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Outer Space Pattern Block Mats

by Stem_ED

Kids of all ages love learning about outer space! Whether you’re looking for a fun math activity to add to your space unit or you want to entertain your future astronaut with a quick prep activity, these free outer space pattern block mats are a perfect fit.

Grab your copy below and then hop over and download our Outer Space Activity Pack, too!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Getting Ready

Prepping for these mats was as quick and simple as they come.

I printed the space pattern block mats (below) and then cut along the grey lines to separate the halves. (Included in this download is one color copy for preschoolers who are just beginning to recognize shapes, plus a black and white version for more advanced mathematicians.)

Awesome space pattern block mats for preschool and kindergarten. Fun for a space unit!

Then, I grabbed our set of pattern blocks and called Middle Brother (age 4.5) over to join me!

Building with Pattern Blocks

Middle Brother has had plenty of practice building with pattern blocks. (They’re an incredibly entertaining quiet time activity!) He is still learning the names of each shape though, so we began by picking up one shape at a time. We talked about its unique characteristics (the number of sides, the number of corners, etc.) and then practiced saying its name.

After our quick review, I gave Middle Brother the colored rocket and invited him to cover it with pattern blocks.

Each time he picked up a new shape, I named it. For instance, when he grabbed the red trapezoid below, I said, “Now you’re sliding the red trapezoid into place.”

Free pattern block mats for preschool and kindergarten. So fun for a space unit!

Once he was finished building, I wanted to take the learning one step further so we worked together to count each of the shapes. There were no hexagons in the rocket, so we wrote a zero on that line.  But when we moved on to trapezoids, Middle Brother was excited to count four!

When our counting was finished, Middle Brother was eager to move on to the next challenge: a black and white pair of stars.

I love these free space pattern block mats! Such a fun math activity for preschool or kindergarten.

Although Middle Brother wasn’t quite ready to tackle it, his older brother (age 6) loved playing around with the pattern blocks to see how many different ways he could cover the star shape. These pattern block mats kept him focused and entertained for a LONG time.

Grab Your Copy

Ready to start building?! Click the blue button below to download your copy and then hop over and snag our Outer Space Activity Pack, too.

Awesome space activities for kids! Math games, sensory bins, Bingo, name activities... tons and tons of fun outer space ideas for preschool, kindergarten and first grade!


Outer Space Bingo // Playdough to Plato

Rocket Name Puzzle// Teach Me Mommy

Space Theme Sensory Bin // Pre-K Pages

Space Counting Mats: Addition and Subtraction // Liz’s Early Learning Spot

Solar System Scavenger Hunt // Mom Inspired Life

Space Themed Matching Cards // Powerful Mothering

Outer Space Pattern Block Mats // The STEM Laboratory

Google Drive Space Facts Activity // DIY Farm Wife

Stars in Space Sticky Wall // Modern Preschool

Space Theme Grid Games // Stay at Home Educator

Counting On Planet Puzzles // The Kindergarten Connection

Aliens in Underpants Save the World // Adventures of Adam

Play Dough Constellations // Play & Learn Everyday

Solar System Bracelet // Still Playing School

Space Sensory Bin // Sugar Spice and Glitter

Space Syllables // Fairy Poppins

Space Themed Number Writing Practice // Preschool Inspirations

The post Outer Space Pattern Block Mats appeared first on The Stem Laboratory.

Solar System Hats

by Stem_ED

Children love learning about outer space – twinkling stars, faraway planets, infinite miles of unknown. – it’s all pretty magical.  Whether you’re organizing a space unit or just want a fun way to help kids learn the order of planets from the sun, these solar system hats are a must-try.

Grab yours in the Outer Space Activity Pack available in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!

What an awesome outer space craft for kids! Make solar system hats to teach them the order of the planets. Great space activity for kindergarten and first grade.

Getting Ready

To prep for the making of our out-of-this-world solar system hats, I printed a copy of the solar system coloring sheet (available here) for each child.

Then, I grabbed several sheets of black construction paper and cut them into 3 inch wide strips. I wanted to make a headband that was 3 inches wide x 24 inches long.  Since my paper was 12 inches long, I glued the ends of two strips together to make one long piece.

Making the Solar System Hats

My boys (ages 4.5 and 6) love space activities, so they couldn’t wait to get to work. They each grabbed their own coloring sheet and started fancying it up using the details they already knew about each planet. Mars looks red because it’s covered by red iron oxide, Uranus’ blue-green color comes from its frozen ammonia and methane, etc.

I love, love, love this outer space craft! Make a solar system hat.

When they were finished coloring, they grabbed a pair of scissors. We were ready for the next step: gluing the pieces to their black headband.

Starting with the sun, the boys cut out one object and label at a time so that they wouldn’t get the pieces mixed up. They glued the sun on the left hand side of the strip and then followed up by attaching the planets in the correct order:

Mercury – Venus – Earth – Mars – Jupiter – Saturn – Uranus – Neptune

Awesome outer space activity for kids! Make solar system hats. Perfect for kindergarten or first grade.

In case it helps them remember the order, there’s a silly mnemonic phrase that says:

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos.

When all of the planets and labels were in place, I helped them wrap the black headband around their head snuggly.  Then, I stapled the ends together to make a hat.

I love these solar system hats! Such a fun outer space activity for kids.

Such a fun, hands-on solar system activity for kids!  Your own kiddos or class will love this activity.  And, of course, will love wearing them the rest of the week!

Grab Your Set

Ready to start crafting too?! Grab your copy in the Outer Space Activity Pack available in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!


The post Solar System Hats appeared first on The Stem Laboratory.

Oreo Moon Phases

by Stem_ED

My little astronomers love observing the night sky! After they asked how the moon shrunk and grew, I knew it was the perfect time to teach them about the moon’s phases with this oh-so-yummy Oreo moon phases activity. Who knew science could be so tasty?!

Getting Ready

To prep for the Oreo moon phases activity, I needed:

  • 1 medium ball (baseball-sized)
  • 1 globe or larger sized ball
  • a flashlight or a desk lamp
  • a bag of Oreos
  • black construction paper (or the printable moon chart from our space activity pack)

Why We Have Day and Night

Before beginning the demonstration, I asked my 3 and 5 year old what they thought made the moon shine.  They both guessed that it made its own light like the sun.

Next, I asked about the moon’s shape.  They both said it was a circle with a “duh, Mom” look on their faces.

That look quickly faded when I then asked them the next question.  “Why the moon doesn’t always look like a circle?  Where does all of its light go when it looks like it’s missing part of the circle?” They were stumped.

So, I handed my 3 year-old the flashlight that would act as our sun.  I gave my 5 year-old the earth (a ball we covered in clay) and grabbed the medium ball that would be our moon.  I intentionally made the moon a little on the large size so it would be easier for my kiddos to see the light reflecting off it.

First, I explained how Earth spins on its axis to create night and day.  We used a tiny red bead and stuck it in the clay Earth about where we lived.  I gave Earth a gentle spin in front of the flashlight sun. My kiddos could easily see that when it was night, the red bead was away from the sun.

Teach kids why the moon has its phases!

The earth kept rotating, the sun rose on the red dot, and it was day.  They both loved spinning the earth and saying “good morning, good night” over and over as the sun rose and set on the red bead.

Why the Moon Shines

Now, it was time to throw the moon into the mix.  I explained that the moon did not make its own light but simply reflected the light from the sun.  Then, I demonstrated how the moon circles Earth.   The type of moon we see depends on where it is in relation to the earth and sun.  (Here, you can find a good diagram to help young astronomers visualize the moon’s rotation.)

We started our demonstration with the moon was on the opposite side of the earth as the sun (the flashlight) like the picture above.  All of the sun’s light was reflected so it was a full moon.

Then, when we slowly rotated the moon around the earth and it ended up between the earth and the sun, the side of the side of the moon facing us up in the sky was in a shadow, causing a new moon.

Love this hands-on science demonstration teaching kids about the moon's phases!

Once my kiddos got the idea down, I explained how we were going to move the moon around the earth to see how its shape changed and record what we saw using Oreos.

Oreo Moon Phases

We started where we left off, with the moon’s face being shadowed.  This was the easiest moon to create with the Oreo.  My 3 year-old carefully separated the Oreo.  She was thrilled when he got a perfectly clean cookie to use for the new moon.

Tip: Our first attempt a this demo failed to the delight of my husband and kiddos who got to eat the rejected bag of reduced fat Oreos.  The original Oreos are much easier to separate than the low fat version.

We continued moving the moon around the earth and copied what we saw by scraping off the Oreo cream to match the visible parts of the moon from Earth.

Teach kids about the phases of the moon with Oreos!!

My 5 year-old daughter wanted to use her teeth to scrape off the cream filling.  But, she had to settle on simply eating the unused cookie tops instead.  For the scraping, a child sized butter knife was the easiest for her to manage.

As the moon continued its orbit around the earth, the visible part grew.  When the visible part gets bigger, it’s called waxing.  When it’s getting smaller, it’s called waning.

Here, the moon was half way around the earth and my daughter was super excited to have made a perfect full Oreo moon.

Teach kids about the moon phases with Oreos! I love this!!

At this point, my 3 year old simply wanted to eat cookies and be the sun.  So, my daughter continued making each Oreo moon phase and placed them on the Oreo moon phase paper.

Such a fun way to teach kids about the phases of the moon! Make Oreo moon phases!

We continued rotating the moon and observing the light that reflected off it.  My daughter then asked how long it took the moon to go around the earth.  I said that on average, it takes 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes, about the length of a month.

We didn’t have to wait nearly that long for the Oreo moon to complete its rotation though.  My daughter really wanted to color each moon on her paper.  So, she grabbed a grey and yellow crayon and carefully colored each circle to show the correct phase.

Now, whenever we glance up at the night sky, my kiddos love trying to track the moon and name its phases.  Any activity that encourages my kiddos to take a moment to observe the world (or universe) around them is a win in my book.

20 Out-of-this-World Space Activities

Continue the outer space fun with 20 of our favorite activities under the sun – science projects, math games, literacy activities… even crafts! Grab your instant download in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!

20 out of this world space activities for preschool, kindergarten, first grade and second grade. So many fun ways to learn about space!

The post Oreo Moon Phases appeared first on The Stem Laboratory.