Monday, September 10, 2012

Planets, Stars, and Solar Systems

This summer Lil Guy has been really into learning about the planets.  We’ve checked out numerous library books about the planets and watched videos about the Mars Rover on the NASA website.  We have a jumbo floor puzzle featuring the solar system and plan to visit the planetarium soon.  I will admit my 3 year old Lil Guy knows (and seems to really understand) things about the solar system now that I didn’t know just a year ago.  Moments like this are truly amazing as a parent.

Here are a few of our favorite Space themed books:

First Facts Books

The First Facts books from Capstone Press feature books on many space related topics.  Each planet has its own book, as does the moon and the sun.  There are also individual books about NASA, Space Stations, and even Space Junk.  The level of the books is perfect for young readers and learners.  Each page features large photographs or illustrations and 3 or 4 sentences of text.  I am also impressed that as non-fiction books for the youngest of readers, this book has all the basics of non-fiction.  Table of Contents, Index, Glossary, Charts/Graphs, and even a list of additional Sources are all part of each book.  While we don’t spend too much time reading through these text features, pointing them out and preparing Lil Guy for future non-fiction reading is an important step!  Recommended for young scientists, K-2 readers, and young non-fiction lovers.

Explorers: Stars and Planets

A perfect place to start exploring space is a book like this.  The Explorers Series offers a beautiful photos and illustrations combined with levels of information and text.  The page on Moon Exploration for example has a large font paragraph about the basics of astronauts and telescopes.  The page also has a few smaller font paragraphs with more details and plenty of photographs and captions.  We choose to read just the large font paragraph or just look at the pictures and summarize captions.  (I find myself doing this often with non-fiction texts featuring ‘too-long’ text.  One tip I will share is to keep the thoughts clear and concise using vocabulary that reflects the topic, but doesn’t overwhelm young readers.)  Overall, this book would be good for elementary students K-4 who enjoy non-fiction and want to explore space.

Nook Book: Solar System! Booksy Level 1

My Nook e-reader is full of books and apps for Lil Guy.  We found this very cool interactive book - Booksy App: Solar System !  The app features 20 pages of an e-book.  You can turn on or off the ‘read to me’ feature and some pages offer interactive graphics.  Following the e-book is a short comprehension quiz.  I was rather impressed that the short quiz WASN’T just recall of facts!  The app tracks the number of times the book has been read and the quiz completed.  Also available in Booksy format are books about Dinosaurs, Animals, and Volcanoes.  Lil Guy really enjoys these types of apps and they are very toddler friendly.  I recommend you try the free “Booksy: Learn to Read!” app if it is available on your e-reader device.

Finally I wanted to give Lil Guy a chance to tell you a little bit about Space.  For our first ever blog interview, I would like to introduce Lil Guy, age 3 1/2.

Mommy: Hey, what are you learning about Space right now?

Lil Guy: I am learning about planets right now.  Did you know that Uranus is on its side?  Do you know why it’s on its side?  I think Jupiter or another big planet crashed into it and knocked it on its side and it can’t move back now.  (This is semi-true.  Although scientists are unsure, Uranus’s tilt was most likely caused by a planetary collision.)

Mommy: You know a lot about the planets.  What else can you tell me about the planets?

Lil Guy: There is an asteroid belt that is rocky and icy. It’s in space between Mars and Jupiter.  I really like it.

Mommy: Very cool.  I like the asteroid belt too.  What’s your favorite book about space?

Lil Guy: Well, I like to read about Earth.  It has blue water and clouds.  I live there too!

So, I can’t help but wonder how long we will be reading about space and exploring the planets.  My little guy is curious and ready to learn.  Maybe he will be an astronaut or NASA scientist?  Then again, he also loves garbage trucks, so maybe he will be a garbage man?  He likes to help make cookies and cakes, maybe a baker?  All summer he has been asking to go to hockey games again, maybe he will be an all-star athlete?  I know one thing for certain, he will be a reader!

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