Astronaut Boy

As of last weekend Jack was still receiving birthday gifts in the mail.  Now every time mail comes, he thinks it’s for him!  This time around he got packages from Grandma D and Aunt Holly.  Aunt Holly sent him the BEST gift EVAR – an astronaut suit.  He has worn it every day since.

And since it’s been a while, here is an interview with our resident astronaut (please excuse the mess – we’ve had a LOT of birthday to clean up after!):

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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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Grateful for imagination

Jack was not happy about getting up this morning.  From the moment he opened his eyes he was upset.  “We have to close the door!  We have to go to sleep!”  I wish, kid!  He spent the next 45 minutes or so yelling at the top of his lungs because he didn’t want to get dressed, didn’t want to watch George, dropped his piece of friendship bread, and then OMG my chocolate egg is broken and I wanted to crack it open but now I can’t!!!  Yeah, you can see how I tried to use bribery when all else failed.  And even the bribery didn’t work.

What did?  A SPACE HELMET.  I told Jack that if he got dressed he could wear the space helmet (David’s bicycle helmet) and we could go to outer space.  He changed his attitude immediately.  We got out of the door within 10 minutes.  I convinced him my car was my spaceship and we were going to take off!  He counted down to lift off at every stop sign.  He was smiling by the time we got to daycare.  I then told him he needed to find some rockets and teach his fellow astronauts about space.  Off he went to look for rockets among the daycare toys!

I lied to my kid – a huge, bald-faced, complete lie.  And I will do it again and again if it gets him out of the house in the morning and saves my sanity.

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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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