Rockets in Space

Our week four summer reading theme was the Night Sky.  Some of my co-workers took this in the direction of lightning bugs and fireworks, but I did lightning bugs last week and my story time was planned for the day after fireworks, so I went with what you may see in the night sky or Things in Outer Space.

The kids did a rather decent job of coming up with various things you may find in space.  The moon, stars, planets, and even aliens were named.  I asked if they knew the names of any planets and Saturn (or Saturen) was a very popular choice.  Mars was another, but I think those rings are a big hit with the preschool group.

The first book we read was Zoom, rocket, zoom by Margaret Mayo.  This book ended up being kind of ho-hum.  It seemed good, there were lots of different space vehicles that I thought would be fun to see.  But, in the end it dragged a little.  When you have both a moon buggy and Mars rover they seem fairly similar.  The book shows astronauts working in space which I thought was neat, but the kids seemed unimpressed.  Perhaps I should have brought back Aliens love underpants.
 Our second book went over much better.  It was Space walk by Salina Yoon.  This book features each of the planets with a lift-the-flap page with a little rhyme about what makes that planet unique.  Very simple with big, planet shaped flaps.  I asked the kids if they knew any of the planets as we went along.  A few required hints like 'this is the planet where we live.'  Guess which one needed no hints?  Saturn!

Instead of doing a third book or flannel story I decided to get out our parachute.  It is only a 6 foot parachute, so it is impossible to use with my regular story time crowds.  But, this summer I have had smaller groups, so the parachute was the perfect size.  Before getting out the parachute I handed out rockets to all of the kids.  I made these out of toilet paper rolls.  There are crepe paper streamers as the bottom and I cut slits at the top and slid in a triangle to be the nose of the rocket.
 First, we did a song with our rockets.  I'm sure there are many similar rocket songs.  I made this one up to be sung to the tune of I'm a little teapot:
I'm a little rocket ready to go,
Turn on my engines and watch me glow.
When I get all revved up I'm ready to fly,
Count me down and shoot me high.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Blast off!!!

When the countdown began we put our rockets on the floor and then launched them into the sky when it was time to blast off.  The kids loved this so we repeated the song a few times.  Then, we got out the parachute.  They all stood around it and took a spot.  I then told them to put their rockets into the parachute.  Most were hesitant to do this at first because they did not want to give their rocket up, but when they saw we were going to 'blast' them into the air they were happy to comply.  We did a few rounds of putting the rockets in and then shaking them out.  I had planned to throw in a few balls as planets, but in hind sight I should have started with them because the kids were rather enthusiastic shakers and we barely got rockets back in before they were flying out again.  The planets never made it in, but the kids did have a blast!

Not many space songs were suitable for story time, but I managed to relate a few fun songs.  Greg and Steve have an upbeat version of I can hammer.  I explained to the kids that astronauts in space sometimes use tools to fix things.  Then I asked them what tools might be used?  They came up with a hammer (among other things) and we were ready to sing.  You hammer starting with one hammer and work your way up to five, using your feet and head when you run out of hands.  What I like about this version is that after you count up to five you then go back down to one.

Ladybug Music has a fun song called Roly-poly.  It is basically the classic baby ryhme (roly poly, roly, poly, up, up, up, roly poly, roly poly, down, down, down etc) set to funky music.  The kids enjoyed this one and the directions were easy for them to follow.  I told them the rolling hands motion was like how the planets travel around the sun, so see, it does not have to be theme-y for it to relate.

For our video this week I wanted to try and show the kids some fireworks.  It has been very hot and dry where we are and some fireworks displays were temporarily cancelled (we got some rain so they were rescheduled, but that was after my program).  I decided on a Thomas the tank engine short video.  The clip is part of the Thomas and Friends: Songs from the Station dvd.  It is a 10 minute story about the trains bringing in a delivery of fireworks, though their show is nearly cancelled when the trains have trouble getting back.  There weren't many fireworks in the clip, but there were enough and, of course, many of the kids love Thomas, so they were just happy with that.

To end story time I had them get out their rockets.  Some of them had been flying them around during the movie so I left the projector on so that they could see the rocket shadows on our big screen.  I had written a second rhyme to use with the rockets, but we had run low on time so I modified it to use as a good bye rhyme.  We said (and did the motions):

 Rockets up,
Rockets down,
Rockets zooming all around.

Rockets fast,
Rockets slow,
Rockets now it's time to go!

The original rhyme went:

Rockets up, 
Rockets down,
Rockets zooming all around.

To the left,
To the right,
Rockets spinning through the night.

Rockets fast,
Rockets slow,
Rockets stop, then go, go, go!

Finally, of course, they all got to take a rocket home with them.  I had a few extras so I replaced any that had been damaged during the parachute fun (which was very few).

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