Space Adventure -5yr- Moon Rock Discovery
Lisa in Tifton, GA USA
We just had a "space adventure" party for my 5 year-old son. I think I had as much fun as he did getting ready for it!
For the invitations, I found a Microsoft clip art piece of an astronaut in a space ship. I inserted the clip art into a Word document, enlarged it, and typed over it in white lettering: "Astronaut Eli is blasting off for his 5th birthday! We'll have lots of games, activities, and yummy snacks, too! We'll take off in our space shuttle, hunt for moon rocks, play with Mars sand, and even visit the asteroid belt! We hope you can join us for lift off! Launch time: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, August 26 Launch site: Eli's house. RSVP Commander Mom or Dad" I printed out color copies of the invitations at Staples office supply store, then glued them onto colorful pieces of cardstock. I folded the cardstock, used a space sticker to hold it shut, and addressed the outside, so no need for envelopes!
About a month ahead of time, I started making astronaut helmets out of papier mache. I took some 12" balloons and blew them up as big as I dared. Then, I set each balloon in a bowl and attached the ballon to the rim of the bowl with pieces of masking tape. I covered each ballon with two layers of papier mache. (To make the glue for the papier mache, I combined one cup of flour with two cups of liquid starch and mixed them well. You can refrigerate any leftovers.) I let them dry overnight, then I covered them with three more layers of papier mache the next night. After they dried overnight again, I popped the balloons and removed them. Then, I used a craft knife to cut out a square shaped window from the front and to trim and shape the bottom a bit so that it would fit easily over a child's head. Next, I put masking tape around all the edges of the helmet and window so that the newspaper wouldn't get torn or shredded. Finally, I painted the outside and inside of each helmet with two coats of white acrylic paint. This whole process took about a week for me.
To make jet packs, I spray painted empty cereal boxes silver. Then, I wrapped empty 18 oz Coke bottles in heavy-duty aluminum foil and hot glued one to each side of the box, with the top of the bottles facing down. I hot glued some red and orange crepe streamers into the mouths of the bottles for flames. I attached some elastic straps to the back of each box for shoulder straps. To decorate the walls of our house, I bought some extra heavy-duty Reynolds wrap foil, tore off two pieces a bit longer than my son, taped them together lengthwise, and had him lie on the floor while I "molded" the foil around his body. He got a kick out of this!
When I lifted up the foil, there was a cool frozen looking space man with the features of his face! It was really cool and spooky looking. We hung those around the house with rolled up pieces of duct tape. Our party's theme was "space adventure," so I arranged some special missions for the kids. When they arrived, I gave them each an air pump rocket from Dollar Tree and let them practice "launching" their foam rockets in a shady part of our front yard. I had some targets made from big cardboard boxes with planet-shaped "targets" painted on them, and I also hung some hula hoops from a tree. These were Saturn's "rings," and they were supposed to try to launch their rockets through them. The only rule was no aiming the rockets at people or animals!
After everyone had arrived and enjoyed launching rockets for awhile, I invited them inside. They set their foam rockets in an empty umbrella holder next to our front door and each received one of the astronaut helmets and a jet pack. As I handed them their helmets and jet packs, I wrote their names on each with a silver paint pen. After they had their gear, I led them to our "launch pad" behind the living room sofa, where I had a washer/dryer box painted to look like space shuttle discovery. (I wasted several cans of white spray paint trying to cover the box. Out of desperation, I found some leftover white interior house paint and tried it. It worked beautifully!) I painted NASA and flag logos on the box, added a cardboard fin to the back and wings to the sides, and hot glued aluminum foil-covered oatmeal cans under the rear fin for jet engines.
The kids got inside the shuttle (there were five kids, which was perfect for this size box), and I counted down. I shook the box from the outside to simulate lift off! When we "landed," we found ourselves on the moon. I led them through a curtain made of shredded black landscape plastic hung from a tension rod in the doorway from the living room to the dining room. In the dining room, I had blue light bulbs in the fixtures (I painted them with blue acrylic paint) and I had attached black plastic to the windows to darken the room. I covered a small loveseat and chair with white sheets for "moon mountains." In the middle of the floor, I placed a small inflatable kiddie pool, and draped a white sheet over it for a "crater." I filled the crater with grapefruit-sized white and silver latex balloons, and hid some "moon rocks" among the balloons.
To make the moon rocks, I mixed a box of baking soda with a little water to make a pasty dough. Then, I molded the paste around some little toys. (For toys, I had plastic astronaut figurines that I bought from kidsfoods.com, some small swirly bouncy balls, small spaceship toys, plastic hologram rings, etc.) I put a cookie sheet full of moon rocks in the warm oven (around 150 degrees) for about 20 minutes; then, I turned off the oven and just let them sit there the rest of the afternoon, until they were nice and hard. During the "moon mission" part of our party, I let them take turns finding a moon rock by taking a pair of tongs and searching through the balloons. When the astronaut found a moon rock, he brought it over to our space laboratory with his tongs and dropped the moon rock into a big dishpan half full of vinegar. The other astronauts watched while the moon rock mysteriously fizzed and dissolved to reveal the toy. Then it was the next astronaut's turn. I made up 10 moon rocks, so each astronaut could have two turns in the lab. (They really thought this was fun! As each toy was revealed, I dipped it into the bucket to rinse off the baking soda residue, dried it with a towel, and put it in their jet pack.)
After the moon adventure, we went back to the spaceship and blasted off again. This time, we landed on Mars! After landing, I led the kids down the "space hall" to the Mars room. To make our hallway look like outer space, I hung two 24 inch fluorescent blacklights at the top of the walls with adhesive velcro strips. I put one at the front of the hall, and one at the back. I painted different sized styrofoam ball "planets" with glow in the dark paint, straightened one end of a paper clip and stuck it in the top of each ball, then tied thread to the curved part of the paper clip and hung each ball from the ceiling with black thread. I also stuck lots of glow-in-the dark foam star stickers to the walls. (I put them on very lightly, and they come off easily when you're ready to take them down.) I let the white paper backings of the stickers fall to the floor in the hallway. With the blacklight on, they glowed and looked really neat! I also hung up aluminum foil "asteroids" and some posters of planets on the walls. The blacklights really made the posters shine and look cool.
To make sure the rooms and the hall were dark enough, I made doorway curtains for each room out of black landscape plastic. I bought a roll of 10' by 50' plastic for $13 from Lowes. To make curtains, I cut a length of plastic about twice as wide as the doorway and about 4 inches longer than the door. I folded the top over a couple of inches and stapled the folded side down all the way across the curtain to make a pocket for the curtain rod.
Next, I took a cheap spring-loaded curtain rod and threaded it through the top of the curtain. I hung the rod in the doorway and then took scissors and cut a slit in the center of the plastic for the kids to get through. I hung one of these in each doorway, and I also covered the windows with plastic. In the "Mars room," I put red painted lightbulbs in the light fixture. I covered my son's train table with a red plastic table cloth and decorated with red balloons.
For the Mars adventure, we explored "Mars sand." I had a large empty jar for each child, a pitcher of water, and a tupperware container of "Mars sand," which I got from Dunecraft.com for about $5. Mars sand is this cool sand that has been treated so that it can't get wet. You use a spoon to scoop some into a glass of water. The stand sticks together underwater and looks really silvery and pretty. You can use your spoon to make shapes and neat landscapes with the sand under the water. When you scoop up a spoonful and bring it out of the water, the sand is magically dry again! They had a blast with this. Beforehand, I had prepared some ziplock baggies of Mars sand for them, and I Xeroxed the label and taped it to each bag. I put a Ziplock bag into each of their jet packs, and then it was time for the next mission. For our next mission, we used our jet packs to travel into the "asteroid belt" (in the space hall). We sat along the wall of the hall to play "save Mars from the giant asteroid."
To play this game, I made a big asteroid out of aluminum foil. The asteroid was made of layers of aluminum foil. In each layer, I put a Dollar Tree toy. (I bought some squishy bugs and light up balls, etc.) The first astronaut unwraps the first layer of asteroid to find the toy, then he passes the asteroid to the next astronaut. By the time they are finished unwrapping layers and finding toys, the asteroid has been destroyed and Mars saved!
After this last game, we went back to Earth (the living room), where the kids looked at their loot and watched a space video while I got the snacks ready. Then they had pizza bites, cheese sticks with marinara sauce, carrot sticks, and strawberries with blue Hawaiian Fruit juice drinks. My son wanted an Earth cake, so I baked a cake in a round glass mixing bowl. I made the Earth's crust, mantel, and core by separating the batter into three bowls and adding red food coloring to one, yellow to another, and orange to the third. I greased the mixing bowl, then poured a layer of yellow, a layer of orange, and a layer of red. I iced the cake with blue icing, tried to approximate the continents with green icing, and stuck on cotton candy clouds. When the cake was cut, the inside looked pretty neat with the colored layers!
After the kids were done eating, my son opened presents, and then the boys had play time until it was time to go home. They really enjoyed playing in the space hall and in the planet rooms with a set of walkie-talkies I had out. All in all, this party took a lot of time to prepare, but it was so much fun! Now that it's over, I'm a little sad! Good luck with your party!
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