Lost in Space

It’s not easy finding space-themed books for a three year old.  Most of what is out there is meant for older children with diagrams and photos and scientific definitions.  Previously I would have guessed that there would be books galore related to space/astronauts/rockets/aliens/planets/etc. for kids of any age, but I found a serious lack of recommendations out there, even on places like Amazon that have special lists for this stuff!  Rarely does a toddler- or preschooler-targeted webpage have “space” as a category for child interest, although sometimes you can find science (which seems to be more aimed at bugs or machines).

In any case, I’ve amassed a good collection of space-related books and I thought I would provide that information so that others are spared hours on the library floor opening book after book searching for appropriate stories for the under 5 crowd…

Roaring Rockets (Amazing Machines) – gender neutral, animals rocketing to the moon

How to Catch a Star – main character is a boy who loves stars

The Way Back Home – main character is a boy who flies to space in an airplane and meets an alien

I Want to Be an Astronaut – this is gender neutral and multicultural, too!  Super easy read.

On the Launch Pad: A Counting Book About Rockets (Know Your Numbers) – we don’t have this one yet, but I’m excited that it incorporates counting since Jack loves to count down to blast off.

What’s Out There?: A Book about Space (Reading Railroad) – another one on the to-be-read list.  I love Reading Railroad!

Space Boy – This one is a tad wordy but has good pictures.  The main character is a boy.

Note: most of these have boys as the main character.  I have yet to find one with a girl as the main character.  I guess I’m lucky Jack is a boy.

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Birthday Time

Jack is 3 today! I can hardly believe it, except that he woke up in a cantankerous mood and declared that he did NOT want to be 3. I’m pretty sure that the mere disputing of being 3 plants him squarely at that age.

I got lucky Thursday night and found a ton of space-themed items at The Party Stylists store here in San Francisco. There were space shuttle plates, planet party favors, space stickers, star candles, and even a Happy Birthday banner with an astronaut on it. Bingo! I bought some decorative icing and used my mama skills to draw a rocket on his cake, too. I hadn’t intended to have a themed party but it all worked out that way. Don’t ya just love it when that happens?

Friends and family gathered at our home in San Francisco on Saturday to celebrate. We even met some new friends (some of you may know VDog and she is featured in the video below if you have a good eye). Toddler-geared lunch was served in the form of PB&J sandwiches, carrot sticks, cucumbers, goldfish crackers, and juice boxes. Could it get any easier?

So what does a three year old like to receive for his birthday? I think the answer is everything! But here are the biggest hits for the Jackonaut (whose little gems of wisdom can now be found on Twitter, by the way, under that name):

Mobi Tyke Light (aka Glow Alien), accompanied by glow-in-the-dark stars that we stuck to his ceiling (not pictured)

WALL-E and Eve plushies

Space Shuttle
I made the mistake of handing this one to him too early and he did NOT want to open anything else afterward. I tried everything I could think of, and finally told him that the other gifts had rockets in them, too. Luckily he was not disappointed by anything he saw!

Remote control “land shark”

And legos, of course. No need for a picture of those! Other great gifts were hermit crabs from Jack’s dad and a tricycle from David. Those will both take a little growing into but they were a bit hit. He got two space-themed books entitled Roaring Rockets and Space Boy. Space Boy is a bit wordy for his age (or maybe just for this lazy mama) but Roaring Rockets is perfect.

There are still a few items to come (Buzz Lightyear & Woody with a rocket and a LeapPad) and I’m sure those will be hits as well.

Here is the video of Jack’s friends and family singing the birthday song to him.

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Rocket Ride

I finally caught Jack on camera with his imagination running rampant. Now you can experience the rocket obsession for yourself!

Rocket Ride

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Flying is in, monsters are out

Jack’s imagination continues to explode.  Last week he was calling everything cylinder-shaped (from a toilet paper roll to a screwdriver) a rocket.  When he would inevitably lose one of his “rockets” he would ask me where it was.  To which I would reply, “Which rocket are you missing, honey?  Your screwdriver rocket?  Your bee rocket?  Your flashlight rocket?”  He would specify and a’hunting we would go.  We play rockets by launching them into outerspace (or “outerface,” as he says it because he has trouble with pronouncing the sc combo) and big rockets must sound louder than little rockets.  He then began (a few days ago) to take small red or orange toys and hold them underneath the rocket as the fire needed for blast off.  The letter magnets on the fridge are all now arranged as rockets.  And, if you didn’t know, we count UP to 13 before blast off ’round here (um, who taught my kid to count?).

This weekend he created the “baby chicky” game.  This involves swathing himself in blankets, sheets, or curtains and announcing, “I’m a baby chicky in the nest!  Cheep cheep!  And you’re the mommy chicky!”  This morphed a bit over a couple of days when he started hoarding his toys to create his nest.  His pseudo-rockets (comb, bee toy, screwdriver) as well as other random items are piled onto the bed, then he lays on top of them and pulls the blanket over his shoulders.  “Can you be in the nest?” he asks.  This hoarding chicky nest maker game is now a giant part of our bedtime routine.  If something is missing, he demands, “Where’s my screwdriver-nest?  Where’s my bee-nest?”  The specification of which object he is talking about has definitely stuck in his brain.

The downside to imagination is…nightmares.  Jack sleeps more fitfully now and has woken up to call for me a few times.  The most recent nightmare apparently involved monsters and aliens fighting, “and I was sssaared, mama, ’cause they were sarrrry.”  I’m sad because Jack used to love monsters.  Not so much anymore, I guess.

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Our Little Astronaut

Jack’s obsession with rockets rages on and has even expanded.  He now dictates which youtube videos of rocket launches we watch (they usually have to have a countdown, fire, and announce “we have a liftoff!”).  He will sometimes even consent to watching moon landings and shuttle orbits.  I took the opportunity Sunday night to begin educating him on our galaxy, but quickly realized I need to do some more research because I couldn’t remember the names of all the planets.  I knew there used to be nine and now there are only 8 because Pluto is now considered a dwarf planet.  (Side note: don’t you love it when they backtrack on the things you were taught in school?  Shouldn’t we all be notified by mail of the book revisions?)

Joe reminded me yesterday that Jack has had a fascination with the moon and stars since he was a baby.  This is the longest he has been interested in anything – longer than drawing and Curious George combined (although I believe the Curious George movie was the inspiration for his interests expanding to rockets).  So perhaps he will be an astronaut or astronomer!

One thing is clear – we need to get some more space-related educational materials.  My cousin recommended a movie called Space Chimps, but I think we need some more books, as well.  Any recommendations for toddler-friendly space media?

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