Planetary telescopes

March 28, 2011

Construction paper, pins, tape, hole punch, stickersToday we’re going to teach Little Bear’s classroom about space!  The kids are 3 and 4, so we’re going to keep it hands-on and light. . . literally!

We’re going to help each kid make a “telescope” out of construction paper and point it at pictures of the planets, to see how they’re different.  After we talk about the planets a while, we’ll tape a piece of black paper with pinholes to the end of the telescope and look through it at a light — to see “the stars.”  It’s an easy craft to make, and I hope it will be a fun way to introduce these little ones to the planets and put the stars within their reach.  (Even if they’re not allowed to stay up late enough to see the real ones!)

I can post instructions and a debrief afterwards — but now, I’ve got to run — Widget and I have a date to teach Bear’s class about the planets and the stars, and I am SO HAPPY.

The idea for this craft came from Marissa, at Our Daylight Adventures, who did the toilet paper telescope craft with her son for Team WhyMommy’s Virtual Science Fair last April.  The Virtual Science Fair was such an amazing gift — I read through all the projects again last week, and I still can’t believe it.  I wanted to go through and leave comments everywhere, since I was too sick to do it April 7 after my surgery (though I read and loved them all!), but who checks comments on year-old posts?

Flying towards Saturn

March 16, 2011

Cassini image of SaturnEver wondered what it would be like to fly into space?  I mean WAY into space? 

Although humans aren’t ready to go back to the Moon or to Mars, we have sent out dozens of spacecraft to the planets and beyond.  Most of the instruments send back data that scientists analyze and tell us what it means.  But on almost every mission, there is also a camera — so that everyone can be part of the experience.  Check out this new video from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft as it heads toward Saturn, just missing cloudy Titan and dry Mimas, two of Saturn’s moons.


Happy. Nice. Curious.

February 9, 2011

I worry about my kids.  I worry a LOT about my kids.  How are they making it through this crazy time?  How do they deal with hearing my name listed among the sick that we pray for at church every Sunday?  How do they feel when they hear me say, “No, honey, Mama can’t” wrestle or swordfight or take them for a walk? 

Are they ok?

Are they going to be ok when they’re teenagers, or all grown up?  Will this time be a defining moment for them, something to point to in future therapy sessions?  Will they be ok?

But yesterday, my oldest brought home a drawing from school that made my heart sing.  They drew pictures of snow globes, and, out of anything in the world, he chose to draw himself playing with two friends.  He drew friends.

He didn’t draw the dark scary place that I was in.  He drew the happy, kid place that he was in.

And he’s going to be ok.

Today, he came home with simple homework:  write three words that describe who you are.  We waited to hear what words he’d choose, and, after his bath tonight, he told us:

Happy.  Nice.  and then he asked his Dad what word he’d use to describe him, curious what he would say.  Dad said, “curious.”  Widget smiled, and there the words were, all out in the open.  WhyMommy’s oldest boy had fulfilled her deepest hopes, all at the age of 6.  He is happy.  He is nice to others and his friends.  And he does ask “Why, Mommy?” just like I dreamed, well before he could talk.  They’re still the sweetest words, next to the last ones I hear every night, as I turn off his light and kiss his forehead as he goes to sleep:

“I love you too, Mommy.”

Tooth Fairy FAIL

December 20, 2010

Tooth Fairy pillowWidget is six.  He’s had a loose tooth for a while now, and this week, just before the Christmas pagent, he wiggled it all the way out.  (It may or may not have had anything to do with the stories I told about wanting to sing “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth,” when *I* was six and getting ready for *my* holiday pagent at school.  Ahem.) 

Being the kind of mom that I am, I had a design, fabric, and ideas to sew him his very own tooth pillow – a pillow with a pocket where you put your used teeth so that that fine lady that is the Tooth Fairy can find it easily and see the handy (large) pocket that looks just right for a couple of quarters.

However, also being the kind of mom that I am, the project … wasn’t done yet.  So as the days got closer and closer and the tooth got wigglier and wigglier, I tried to finish what I was working on and start on this project.  I didn’t make it. 

The day of the pagent, we drove to school bundled in winter coats, singing songs about Rudolph — as I sewed frantically patiently on this long-awaited tooth pillow.  We’d be gone for a couple hours, with bedtime swiftly following, but I was NOT going to let my little boy down.  He would have his tooth pillow before he put his head on his own pillow to sleep.

And, thanks to a longer-than-anticipated wait to get into the building and some quick stitching in the front seat of the car, I finished it just before the pagent.  Widget sang loud and strong (I heard him! from the fourth row!). The kindergartners were angelic, the older kids were smart and dramatic, and the oldest kids sang like angels again, or at least angels who were a little nervous in front of all those parents and all.  Little Bear, Grammy and Grampa, and Daddy and I sat fourth row, aisle, next to a brand-new baby and her mama.  The baby was only two weeks old and captured Little Bear’s interest whether she cried, cooed, or just snuggled in. 

By 8:00, we all were tired and ready for bed.  The children changed into their footie pj’s, zipped themselves up, and Widget deposited his tooth into the designated pocket and went to sleep.  All went perfectly.

Dear Tooth Fairy, Please bring my tooth back.  <3 Until the next morning, when he burst into our room in tears, saying, “I want my tooth BACK!”

Apparently, the budding young naturalist would rather have teeth than quarters.  No matter how many there are. 

And so, tonight we wrote a note (it looks brusque, but he did sign it with a heart), folded it carefully, and put *that* in the little pocket in the tooth pillow, now all sewn and stuffed … and outgrown already.  As Widget pointed out on his way to bed: “I won’t be needing that anymore.”

Oh, little boy.  Don’t grow up so fast.  Let’s believe in the magic of childhood … just a little bit longer.