Science Fun: Space Exploration Play

Nov 7, 2014

With the night sky being so crisp and clear this Autumn season, the smalls have been particularly interested in outer space. The moon, the stars, the galaxy...all of it so interesting and intriguing to the smaller crowd. To help quench some of their curiosity and stretch their imaginations, I have put together a space exploration play experience in our sensory table. It has proved to be THE most popular centre in my home for over a week now. Even my own 8-year-old son comes home from school and sits down at the play table for hours at a time. Children love sensory play. They love the whole idea of planets, robots, stars and the vastness of outer space. So it was no surprise to me that they love this activity.

Suggested Materials:


Each time I create a sensory play bin for the kids, I keep a few things in mind. Firstly, toddlers like to fill and dump, which is why I always include bowls, or cups, and scoops of some sort.

Secondly, I try to add materials that provide opportunity for children to experiment and problem solve. In this case, the magnets, along with things that will be attracted by the magnets, and materials that will not be attracted.

Thirdly, I try to add elements that will spark imaginative role play, which is why this sensory play bin contains space exploring play figures and the metal tart cups for "flying saucers".

And finally, I try to add a bit of actual science to the bin. For this reason, the bin contains the tiny planets, and also a book from the library on the night sky constellations for the older crowd. The stars can be placed in the patterns the children see in the book AND when you turn out the lights, they glow!

This outer space play experience is suited for children as young as 2 years (as long as they are past the "put everything in their mouths" stage), right up through school-age children who still like to play.

Helpful Hints For Purchasing Materials:

  • I purchased the black beans at Walmart for about $3/bag and used 6 bags. If you have a smaller bin, you would not need so many bags of beans.
  • The satellites came in the Space Figures Playset Toob by Safari Ltd and can be purchased wherever those products are sold.
  • Pompoms and stars were purchased at our local dollar store.
  • All the metal objects were found in my kitchen cabinets.
  • Plastic planets were part of a mobile sold at the local toy store which I dismantled. If you cannot find toy planets, you can use little bouncy balls or big marbles.
  • Toy astronauts and robots were purchased at our thrift store.
  • *Magnet wands are from our local teacher's store.
Article Author Arlee Greenwood
Arlee Greenwood

Read more from Arlee here.

Arlee is an Early Childhood Educator, earning her degree at BYU Idaho. She runs a government accredited care center in her home in Red Deer, AB. She studied with the New York Institute of Photography and she owns her own photography studio. Arlee is a mother of 6, an aspiring yogi, a lover of books, bento box lunches, travel, good food and wine. She’s a blogger in her “spare time” and she will never say no to chocolate. Find her at Small Potatoes, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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