What’s cooler than outer space? If you ask most preschoolers, the answer is: nothing. That’s why outer space is such a great theme for lesson plans, and since May 4th is National Space Day, now is the perfect time to blast off with your little learners!
Your children can learn about space and planets through dramatic play scenarios, like the ones in Ann Barbour’s book Play Today. Play Today provides teachers and parents with ways that dramatic play can enrich their children’s learning experiences while also giving children the opportunity to be imaginative and creative. There are plenty of ways educators can guide the play of their young learners and teach them to engage with their peers. Here are some ideas for setting up a space-themed play session in your classroom!
- Cardboard & cardboard boxes
- A chart with stats for the rocket
- Masking or painter’s tape
- Photos of rocket ships, asteroids, planets, and stars
- A table
Setting up the Spaceship
- Tape an outline of a rocket ship on the floor
- Line up some chairs within this outline
- Create a simple control board by cutting a rectangle out of the cardboard panel and attaching it to the cardboard box. Add stickers or paint to make buttons and levers
- Display the maps, stats, and planet pictures to set up a “mission control” space
Props to Add
- Clocks and dials
- Astronaut helmets
- Lab coats
- Oxygen packs
- An American flag
- Point out the instrument panel. Add dials and knobs to the box, and point out where they show speed, altitude, temperature, etc.
- Give students passes to board the rocket, like how real astronauts have ID badges
- Ask questions like “What do you know about rocket ships? What would you like to see in space? What do you think an astronaut needs when they go on a space voyage?
- Play with the children, saying things like “I see a star outside the rocket!” or “We’re moving at more than 100 miles per hour! How fast do we need to go?”