DIY Solar System Play Dough Kit

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I put together this sweet little play dough kit as a Christmas gift for my son. I started with a $3.99 GLIS box with lid from IKEA, made some homemade galaxy play dough, solar system story stones, handmade astronaut peg doll, wood craft stars, space figurines and our die cast space shuttle.

This was SUPER simple to put together and I totally see myself making other themed play dough kits to keep my boys entertained. I've taken the time to break it down for you all and included links to all the materials I used along with some other suggestions for those of you who don't want to make the handmade aspects of the kit. Enjoy!

Galaxy Play Dough I typically prefer to buy Play-Doh rather than make my own but the galaxy play dough is so dreamy, I couldn't resist! I put together a recipe based on the many no cook play dough recipes I found online, added black food coloring and various types of silver glitter.

Galaxy Play Dough Recipe: 4 cups flour ¼ cup vegetable oil 1 cup salt 3 tbs cream of tartar 3-3 ½ cups of boiling water Optional: food coloring, glitter, essential oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook and slowly add the 3-3 ½ cups of boiling water. I only used about 3 ¼ cups on the batch I made. I added black gel food coloring, various sizes of silver glitter and a little lavender essential oil to improve the sent. Add a little water if the consistency is too dry or flour if it's too wet. Store in a zip lock baggie or air tight container for up to 6 months.

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Solar System Story Stones No doubt you've seen the super cute story stones all over Pinterest and Instagram. I encourage you to make some yourself! I've been making story stones for my kids, nieces and nephews and gifting them to friends for years. They're always a huge hit. I personally like to hand paint simple images on the stones using acrylic paint and cover with a protective varnish (like this one) to preserve the image and prevent the paint from chipping. Be sure to use unpolished stones! We've even used rocks out of our own garden.

Planets on Wood Coins Another option would be to use wood coins. You can buy inexpensive wood coins in a variety of sizes at any craft store or on Amazon. Simply print and cut the images of the planets and space objects and glue them onto the wood coins. Add a thin layer of glue on top of the paper for extra protection. Tip: you may need to experiment with the paper size percentage in your printer settings to get the right fit for your coins.

Solar System Figurines If you wanted to skip the handmade solar system all together, this Safari Ltd Safariology The Solar System is a great option!

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Astronaut Peg Doll This little guy was super simple to make! You can pick up the wood peg dolls at the craft store or Amazon. I used acrylic paint to make a NASA inspired space suit and a simple smiling face. You can always sketch an outline with pencil first if you're not confident with your painting abilities. I finished with a coat of varnish to seal the paint.

Wood Craft Stars and Alternatives I purchased my wood craft stars at Hobby Lobby in the Christmas Crafts section. Here's a option from Amazon that you can paint silver or gold. My boys have also enjoyed using these glow in the dark stars in our solar system themed sensory play. You could use beads or large sequins. Even balled up pieces of tin foil make great “moon rocks.”

There are so many possibilities when it comes to these diy kits. I mostly used things we already had on hand. I hope I’ve inspired you to put together a kit of your own!

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Moon Phase Unit Study Activities

I've compiled a list of activities that will compliment the Moon Phase Unit Study! I tried to make sure all projects allow my children to truly be creative and are in keeping with the educational philosophies that inspire me.

Most of the activities I’ve suggested can easily be modified for younger or older children and I try to offer examples for a wide range of ages and capabilities.

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Moon Sand Sensory Bin

Although you can use store bought Moon Sand, it's super simple to make at home. I use a 1:8 ratio of oil to flour. Most recipes call for baby oil but I like to use a vegetable oil just in case the moon sand makes it's way into little mouths it's not toxic! Not yummy but safe in small amounts.

Two Ingredient Moon Sand Recipe:

1 cup canola (or other vegetable oil)

8 cups flour

Optional: food coloring, edible glitter

I simply toss the oil and flour into my mixer until it's blended.

Kinetic Sand and black beans also works great for this bin!

For the sensory bin you can offer space figurines, glow in the dark stars, star beads, moon phases wood coins (see instructions below), toy rockets, rocks, anything you have on hand that is on theme and will stimulate your student’s senses. Then, find some tools that will help your child explore the little environment you’ve created. I like to offer spoons, scoops, tweezers, child safe knives, sticks and magnifying glasses. This set of tools is a favorite of ours.

You can simply allow your child to explore the bin using their senses or give them a directive such as “can you find all the star beads and put them in this basket using the tweezers?”

For older children you can offer them all the materials and allow them to create their own sensory bin.

Oreo Moon Phases

Help your child learn to identify the phases of the moon with this popular and fun activity. I've created a worksheet specifically designed for Oreo cookies. We used a butter knife to shape the icing and recreate the phases of the moon.

The worksheet is part of the Moon Phases Unit Study.

Moon Phases Wood Coins

These are a fun and simple little craft you can do along with your little learners. We used the wood coins in our sensory bin, as a sequencing activity and matched them up with our moon phase charts. You could even make two of each and create a little memory game.

You can buy inexpensive wood coins in a variety of sizes at any craft store or on Amazon. Simply print and cut the moon phase images out of the Cut and Paste Activity worksheet and glue them onto the wood coins. I added a thin layer of glue on top of the paper for extra protection. Tip: you may need to experiment with the paper size percentage in your printer settings to get the right fit for your coins.

You could take this craft a step further and paint your wood coins with acrylic paint!

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Moon Phases Garland

Love the way this super easy craft turned out! Print two copies of the moon phase Cut and Paste Activity worksheet, cut out the images of the moon, use a long piece of ribbon or string (mine is about a yard long) and glue the two matching images of the moon together with the string in between. Once the glue is dry your garland is ready to hang!

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Telescope

We purchased a super inexpensive telescope (from Aldi of all places) for our family and it's been a joy! It's definitely not top notch quality but we have been able to get some pretty neat views of the night sky with it. I think it's been a great purchase for our house and expect to invest in a better quality telescope when our children get a little older.

Here we are looking at a full moon in the evening sky Spring 2018.


Visit an Observatory

If you're lucky enough to live near an observatory, I encourage you to visit! Here's a list of observatories in the US: http://www.go-astronomy.com/observatories.htm

Moon Artwork

We always incorporate artwork into anything we're studying, especially in science and nature. We simply painted the moon by first drawing a circle on paper and then used photos of the moon from a book as reference. Encourage your child to include the craters and peaks of the moon in their painting or drawing. We also painted a landscape of the night sky featuring the phases of the moon. I always take the time to do an art project along side my child.

Moon Phases Journal

Create a journal as you study! This is a lovely way to save your student’s work. I usually use a binder or folder for my preschool aged son, but a nice art journal or composition book is perfect for older children.

Ask your students to paint, color or draw their own illustration of the moon phases. Go out in nature, observe the moon in the night sky and use it as reference for your artwork.

If that isn’t a possibility, use the cards and posters provided in the Moon Phases Unit Study as reference.

I like to sit next to my son and create a drawing or painting along with him. We discuss the phases of the moon and I encourage him to include specific aspects of the moon in his work.

Depending on your student’s age and capabilities, you can ask them to label their moon phases or write down any observations they may have.

This is also a great opportunity for your older students to do some copy work. Ask them to look up information about the moon either in a book or from the info cards provided and copy down the information they find interesting or use their own words to paraphrase what they’ve learned. Another suggestion would be to have them illustrate and label the phases of the moon to create their own chart.

Get your free Moon Observation Journal here.

Book Recommendations for Moon Phases Study

I’ve been pleased with my son’s progress as we study and learn about the Moon. I’m so pleased to share with you what has worked for us. Hope you enjoy!

Stephanie

Moon Phases Unit Study

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The moon is a fascinating subject of study for all ages. My Phases of the Moon science unit explores the phases of the moon, facts about the moon's surface, as well as the moon's roll in life on Earth.

As with all the unit studies I curate, this mini curriculum is very hands-on. Students are encouraged to observe the moon in the sky, read about the moon in a variety books, use the course materials to teach as well as reinforce what we’ve learned and of course, create lovely artwork featuring our fascinating subject matter.

Here's what you'll receive:

The 37 page PDF includes a curriculum guide, 10+ printable activities, an activity guide, book list and an additional resource list.

Phases of the Moon Posters

I've included 3 different posters; moon phases with labels, without labels and moon phases in relation to the sun and Earth.

Flash Cards

Eight simple flashcards featuring illustrations of the phases of the moon.

Three-Part Cards

Three-part cards are a staple in the Montessori classroom. They are used to build vocabulary, enrich language and are the foundation of learning classification, reading, writing, culture, geography and art.

Info Cards and Sheet

Eight information cards that have some quick facts about moon and describes the moon phases. I've also included an information sheet that has some interesting facts and quick information about the moon.

Cut and Paste Worksheet

Simply cut out the pictures of each moon phase and paste them in the correct position of the blank moon phase diagram. These images are great to cut out in a variety of different projects!

Color in the Moon Phases

Use the Blank Moon Phase Diagram to color in the moon phases. You can use a variety of art supplies, depending on your child's skill level.

Oreo Moon Phases

Help your child learn to identify the phases of the moon with this popular and fun activity. I've created a worksheet specifically designed for Oreo cookies.

Matching Worksheet

Match the picture with the correct stage of the moon phase by drawing a line between the picture and correct word.

M is for Moon Block Letters

A hands-on way to learn the alphabet! We use these all the time in our homeschool classroom. Check out my post on block letters for inspiration!

Writing Practice

Eight simple writing practice worksheets featuring the moon phases.

The Moon Observation Journal

Print multiple pages for your students to draw and write down what they observe. Staple the pages together or put in a binder to complete your journal.

I’ve really done all the work for you! Not only have I provided you with beautiful and engaging printables, I’ve also included a book list, suggested materials and documentaries as well as an activity guide. I’ve used what I’ve learned from studying the principals of Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emelia and Charlotte Mason to guide me as I created this unit study.

I’ve been very pleased with the progress my preschooler has made and I’m so happy to be sharing this with you!

Purchase your unit study bundle here!

Tinkergarten

Tinkergarten is an outdoor classroom where kids learn through play. My boys (20 months and 4 years old) absolutely adore Tinkergarten! It's been a great experience for our entire family. We love spending time outside, the boys enjoy learning along side their peers and we parents get some helpful tips about child development.

From the Tinkergarten website: “Our expert-designed classes and activities help kids ages 18 months—8 years develop core life skills while enjoying healthy, fun, engaging experiences in the physical freedom of local green spaces.”

We're looking forward to the fall class!

Use my referral link to find a class near you and receive $15.00 off enrollment!

Upper and Lowercase Block Letter Printable Sheets

As we explore a letter, I like to print off one of these pages with the giant block letters for my preschooler to fill with objects that begin with that letter. As he fills up the letter we work on sounding out the letter.

This is a creative way to explore the alphabet with your little learners! This is a great opportunity for sensory play. I like to incorporate some tools as a way to work on fine motor skills.

Below I've included a list of objects you could use for each letter. The possibilities really are endless, you could use so many things you have on hand. I've also included links to Amazon for some of our favorites.

You could laminate them for longevity and use them over and over again. Once laminated they're great to use as play doh mats or to trace with a dry erase marker.

Have you child paste the items to the page and create an alphabet book or simply print them off and have the student color or paint them as they'd like!

Click here to download your own copy of the Upper and Lowercase Block Letter Printable Sheets

Enjoy!

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The Letter A: acorns, apple stickers, animal figurines

The Letter B: buttons, beans, butterfly stickers, beads

The Letter C: crayons, cat stickers or figurines, cookies, cars

The Letter D: dimes, dinosaurs, dog stickers or figurines

The Letter E: Easter egg stickers, egg shells

The Letter F: fall leaves, flowers, feathers, fingerprints, fruit stickers

The Letter G: grapes, gems (rhinestones), glitter, grass

The Letter H: heart stickers or stamps, hexagons (cut out of paper)

The Letter I: insect figurines, instrument stickers or figurines, ice cream stickers

The Letter J: jacks, jelly beans, jack-o-lantern stickers

The Letter K: keys

The Letter L: LEGO, leaves

The Letter M: musical notes, macaroni, moon stickers

The Letter N: nickles, numbers

The Letter O: ovals (cut from paper), ocean animals

The Letter P: pom poms, pennies, paperclip, play doh, pretzels

The Letter Q: quarters, q-tips

The Letter R: rocks, ribbon, raspberries

The Letter S: sea shells, squares (cut out of paper), snowflake embellishments, star stickers

The Letter T: triangles (cut of of paper), toy trains, toy trucks

The Letter U: unicorn stickers, umbrella stickers

The Letter V: vehicle stickers, vegetable figures

The Letter W: walnuts, wood sticks or slices

The Letter X: x-ray stickers, letter X stamps or stickers

The Letter Y: yarn, things that are yellow

The Letter Z: zebra stripe washi tape, zoo animal figurines

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Painted Lady Butterfly Unit Study

Studying the life cycle of a butterfly has become a favorite in our homeschool classroom. We order a cup of caterpillars every year. Witnessing the metamorphosis of a butterfly is special and I believe it’s something every child should see up close!

We usually spend a couple weeks in the spring studying butterflies. I like to present my preschoolers with butterfly themed activities from many different subjects to immerse my little learners in this nature study.

I’ve created several products designed to accompany the Painted Lady Butterfly: Caterpillar to Butterfly Kits such as the Insect Lore kit which can be purchased on Amazon.

As with all the unit studies I curate, this mini curriculum is very hands-on. Students are encouraged to observe butterflies in nature, read about them in numerous books, use the course materials to teach as well as reinforce what we’ve learned and of course, create lovely artwork featuring our fascinating subject matter.

I’ve done all the work for you! Not only have I provided you with beautiful and engaging printables, I’ve also included a book list, suggested materials and documentaries as well as an activity guide. I’ve used what I’ve learned from studying the principals of Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emelia and Charlotte Mason to guide me as I created this unit study.

Now available in my shop for $10.00!

I’ve been very pleased with the progress my preschooler has made and I’m so happy to be sharing this with you!

Our favorite butterfly books:

From Caterpillar to Butterfly, Deborah Heiligman

Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies: Take-Along Guide, Mel Boring

National Geographic Readers: Caterpillar to Butterfly, Laura Marsh

A Butterfly Is Patient, Dianna Hutts Aston

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