Your child can’t actually blast off into space — at least not yet — but he can explore the idea of space right from home or the classroom. Pretend play encourages your child to imagine how things might really look or behave in outer space. Gather some basic props and make a few more to turn your living room into outer space.
You can’t pretend to be an astronaut without a cardboard rocket. Snag a refrigerator box from an appliance store to make a rocket large enough for your child to climb inside. If you can’t get one tall box, stack several together and cut out the sides that connect so the rocket is open all the way to the top of the boxes.
You’ll need to cut a door at the base of the rocket. You can leave the cardboard flap attached on one side if you want an actual door your child can open and close.
Let your child decorate the inside and outside of the rocket. Add the name he gives the rocket to the outside. On the inside, paint a variety of instrument panels and screens so it looks like a real rocket.
Now your child is ready to suit up. An adult’s track suit made from slick material works well as a makeshift space outfit — bonus points if it’s white. An old football helmet or a metal colander is a good substitute for a space helmet. Make an oxygen tank from two large plastic bottles taped together.
You can make things interesting by including alien costumes in the dramatic play area. Use brightly colored clothes. Stuff socks and sew them onto the shirt to make tentacles. Use a stocking hat with extra googly eyes and antennae sticking out from the top. Or let your child design his own alien costume.
Cut out large circles or cardboard or paper to be the planets. Your child can pretend to land on the planet and explore it. You can also add pictures of planets or stars on the walls to create the space feeling. Draw maps of made up planets for your child to use during exploration.
A well-stocked dramatic play area gives kids the inspiration to use their imaginations. The space theme is the perfect springboard for hours of imaginative play.