Blast Off! Be a Space Explorer
Journey beyond Earth with your kids! There are so many interesting things to learn when it comes to outer space – the stars, planets, rockets and more. These space-themed crafts and activities are a great way to discover. From hands-on ideas for aspiring astronauts to experiences for the whole family, blast off to fun!
Out-of-This World Activities
Get your hands dirty and your brains working with these out-of-this world experiments.
- Soda Bottle Space Rocket: Cut off the top and bottom of a soda bottle. Glue one end into a laundry detergent lid for the base. Add a smaller cap for the nose and fins cut from craft foam. Decorate your rocket with paper and stickers and get ready to blast off! Find directions at alittlepinchofperfect.com.
- Space Rock Cakes: Mix a quick and easy biscuit recipe, adding raisins to the dough. Drop the dough onto a cookie sheet and bake. Cool, then sprinkle with edible glitter and food dust in gold and silver. Find the complete recipe at rainydaymum.co.uk.
- Rocket Snacks: This sweet and fruity snack comes from Devon at mamacheaps.com. Cut strawberries widthwise into three slices and thread them on a wood skewer, alternating with marshmallows and having the rounded strawberry slice at the top. Add cut slices of cantaloupe for the rocket base.
- Galaxy Play Dough: Combine 4 cups flour, 1/2 cup salt, 2 tablespoons cream of tartar and 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add 1 cup boiling water and stir. Divide the dough, adding purple and black food color and glitter; mix well. Blend the two doughs together to make swirls. Get ready to mold some planets! Find full instructions at kidactivitieswithalexa.com.
Before bedtime, take a few minutes to step outside and view these amazing astronomical events.
- Mars at Opposition: On December 8, the red planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and fully illuminated by the sun; it will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long.
- Geminids Meteor Shower: Produced by debris left behind by an asteroid, the Geminids will produce up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak on December 13-14.
- December Solstice: The first day of winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, Earth’s South Pole will be at its southernmost position on December 21. This is also the best night for viewing the planet Mercury.
- Ursids Meteor Shower: The Ursids shower is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, and it will peak on December 21-22. Meteors should be visible anywhere in the sky away from city lights.
Not-to-Miss Space Experiences
Special filters on the observatory’s solar telescope will allow visitors to safely view our nearest star, the Sun. Look for sunspots and loops of hot hydrogen gas called prominences that extend off the disc of the sun. Included with museum admission. Dec. 10.
Head to the new Exhibition Hub at Atlanta Art Center to view The Fans Strike Back: The Largest Star Wars Fan Exhibition. Explore one of the world’s most beloved franchises with the largest private collection of official Star Wars items, including life-size figures, models, photos, posters, costumes and more. Through Dec. 30.
Explore the vacuum of space, radiation, meteoroids and temperature extremes by climbing aboard an orbiting space station in Fernbank’s new exhibit. Learn more with games and multimedia components that show how astronauts eat, sleep and even go to the bathroom while in space. Through Jan. 1.
Take a journey across the galaxy at Illuminarium’s immersive experience, where visitors can fly through a nebula, walk on the moon, see Saturn’s rings and weave through an asteroid belt. Through Jan. 8.
See the wonders of the universe at Fernbank’s state-of-the-art planetarium, which features a variety of shows throughout the week, from “The Apollo” story to “The Cosmic Recipe.” Visitors can also see the Apollo 6 Command Module, an unmanned flight launched in 1968 and recovered in the Pacific Ocean.
Space Centers in Georgia and Beyond
Coca-Cola Space Science Center: Columbus, ccssc.org
Museum of Aviation: Warner Robins, museumofaviation.org
U.S. Space and Rocket Center: Huntsville, Ala., rocketcenter.com
Check websites for hours and public access.
Dr. Ralph L. Buice Jr. Observatory at Fernbank Science Center: Atlanta, fernbank.edu
North Georgia Astronomical Observatory at University of North Georgia: Dahlonega, ung.edu/observatory
Georgia Tech Observatory: Atlanta, astronomy.gatech.edu
Tellus Observatory at Tellus Science Museum: Cartersville, tellusmuseum.org
Space-Themed Toys We Love
Make play time extra special with these fun finds.
- LEGO City Space Sets: Journey to new horizons with these LEGO sets! The collection includes a Lunar Space Station, Research Base and Roving Vehicle, and each comes with lots of accessories for imaginative play. Ages 7 and older. Available at lego.com for $39.99-$129.99.
- Color-Your-Own Rocket Playhouse: Kids can use paint, markers or crayons to add their own color and embellishments to this playhouse, then take an imaginary trip to the stars. After play, it folds for easy storage. Ages 5 and older. Available at orientaltrading.com for $24.98.
- Solar System 3D Puzzle: Create a solar system diorama with this challenging puzzle! The nine planets fit onto a sturdy base for display after assembly; an educational guide is also included. Ages 8 and older. Available at amazon.com for $14.99.
- 4-in-1 Solar Space Robot Kit: Build a moon exploration fleet with this STEM-inspired kit – a walking robot, space shuttle, moon buggy or space station. Each piece is powered by solar panels or batteries. Ages 8 and older. Available at amazon.com for $26.99.
- ToyerBee Telescope for Kids: This portable scope features a 3X Barlow lens and two eyepieces, plus a smartphone adapter and wireless camera remote for taking pictures. A tripod provides steady viewing. Available at walmart.com for $79.99.