Astronaut Play = Soaring Dreams

Ignite a child's imagination and they will forever be learning... {Cool gift ideas for your young astronaut}The imagination is truly a wonderful thing…  Watching it unfold in each of my children has been one of my favorite parts of parenting.  Ignite a child’s imagination and they will forever be learning.

Back in 2009, Xander was getting into everything “space” related.  One day, he ran up to me to show off his latest costume which consisted of his sleeping bag backpack, a small laundry basket and dog ears that stood in for his headset.

Just days before he had announced that he wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up.
He then asked me:
“Mom, when you grow up, do you want to be an astronaut too?”
Isn’t that “almost 5″ age so magical?
This craze prompted the idea of gifting him a costume to further launch him into this imaginative phase.  The costume was a hit and continues to be worn by his two younger boys to this day.  It is a beautiful and extremely well made costume that has withstood the test of time.  As you can see from this picture below, he still had to be a little inventive with a helmet…
Amazing astronaut costume.  Pair it with a good book for a great gift combo!

The perfect gift combination for a kid who loves everything SPACE related! {Day 16 of a 31 day series on Gifts that Inspire Learning}

Well, fast forward a few more years and we were officially learning about astronomy in our studies.  These three boys of mine were obsessed yet again.  We discovered the book, Moon Shot, and fell in love.  I promptly went out and bought our family a copy.  It is a mesmerizing book that draws you into the drama and adventure of that first trip to the moon.  I couldn’t help but think about what a perfect gift combination it would make with our astronaut costume. Sometime in the last several years, our space-obsessed boys also received this Space Mission playset.  It has been played with so many times and still routinely comes out from time to time.

So here you go…

The perfect gift set for a kid who loves everything outerspace!

Orange Astronaut costume (it comes in white too)

Moon Shot: The Flight of Apollo 11

Space Shuttle Figurine Set


Blog Posts on our Astronomy Unit
InCognito Testing: A Homeschool Mom’s Secret Weapon {Comets}
Heroes in History and Faith: Johannes Kepler
Rainy Day Reading: More Astronomy Books
Why Shouldn’t We Look at the Sun: An Experiment

Woot!  I’ve made it past the half-way mark in this fun series!  

31 days of gift ideas that will spark and foster your children's love of learning and feed the imagination!

My love/hate relationship with LEGO/DUPLO + my favorite accessory

Weighing the pro's and con's and realizing that lego's really are pretty awesome!

I have this love/hate relationship with legos and duplos.  I’ll admit that there are days when I’m tempted to pack up each and every tiny little sliver of a piece and send them off to Goodwill in the blink of an eye.  But then I sit to ponder.  Would I really do that? Ha.  Probably not.  Would I really want to?  At this point, I start to analyze (it’s the scientist in me, I guess).  And my analysis goes something like this…

Why I HATE Legos/Duplos:

* The mess, the clutter.  When my kids are playing with them, they take over the room and sometimes the house.  We try to relegate them to one room in the house, but I have to be ever vigilant.

* The danger that comes with the mess.  Yes, that stray lego impaled in the bottom of your foot in the middle of the night…

Lego's and Duplo's Inspire Creativity and are a great addition to your #homeschool!

Why I LOVE Legos/Duplos:

* The creativity it inspires.  You know, when they create a solar system out of duplos or furiously worked to create a skeletal model to share at co-op, or the day he recreated the Boston Tea Party.

* Teaches my boys how to read directions – Sort of an important skill for my future men. ;)

* Promotes “thinking outside of the box” – I love watching my boys then ditch the original way something was designed to be put together and make up their own versions while mixing and matching between different sets they own.

* Promotes fine-motor skills.  A fun, no-fuss way to build fine-motor skills!

* Promotes imaginative play.  I love watching them design make-believe worlds and then get lost inside of them for hours on end.

* And finally, it’s forced me to be more intentional in training my boys to tidy up their creative messes.

Lego's spark all kinds of creative play opportunities.

I have to think about this every once in a while so I’m reminded why we do in fact love them and agree to bring them into our home!

Do you have a love/hate relationship with legos too?  What would be on your list?
And because this is installment #15 in my 31 day series on gifts that inspire learning, I have to share…

My Favorite Accessory – Reversible LEGO/DUPLO MatsThese large lego/duplo reversible mats are perfect for any age.

One of my favorite finds that has made our lego/duplo play so much more enjoyable has been these 2 sided block mats.  They aren’t LEGO brand, but they work beautifully with both legos and duplos.  I also love that they are sized to fit perfectly into our train table.  Sometimes both mats are being used for lego creations and other times one child will be playing with legos while the other plays with duplos.  Any of you who have priced out extra mats knows how expensive they.  They now come in green, gray, and pink!

As for general lego recommendations.  I love having a starter set or two of general blocks.  I wanted to promote creativity and open-ended play instead of just going with a fixed, one-dimensional set.  I’ve found our two general lego block buckets plus the themed sets they’ve received over the years have all worked together beautifully.

Bottom line on picking out sets?  Go with your child’s interest coupled with your values. (You are the parent and yes, you can do that!) What kind of lego’s do your kids enjoy most?  I have one who loves the City themed ones.  He’s the son who wants to build houses when he grows up.  The other two loved anything medieval until we finally let the boys watch the original Star Wars movies last year.  Now everything is Star Wars

If you are looking for more inspiration along the building/engineering side, we’ve been thrilled with the Lego Crazy Action Contraption set.  My budding engineer loved putting these together and my two imaginative play focused boys enjoyed the finished results.

Well now that these thoughts are out of my mind and onto virtual paper, I’m feeling better about the whole lego thing…  Which is perfect, because I’m sure I’ll get to teach another “how to clean up your legos” lesson tomorrow.  With the fresh reminder of the good, I’m resolved to keep up the training aspects…

{Affiliate links used.  Thanks for your support.  While purchases through these links don’t affect your price, I receive a small commission which helps to pay bills and keep this site running.}

31 days of gift ideas that will spark and foster your children's love of learning and feed the imagination!

Ignite Wonder and Inspire Exploration: 6 Awesome Science Kits


The beauty of science is how play-oriented it can be.   Science is about exploration.  It is about asking questions and solving problems. And it can be a whole lot of fun when we turn them loose to explore in a relaxed, playful context. Here are 6 … [Continue reading]

Science Gift Ideas: Microscope Edition (Day 13)


I still remember that magical Christmas when I opened up an amazing microscope kit. I was over-the-moon excited and we spent hours looking at things under the microscope.  All three of us girls enjoyed it even though I was the only one that ended up … [Continue reading]

What Had My Kids Begging to Do “School” on a Saturday…


"Mooooooooooooom.  Mooooooooooom.  What’s this?  Can we open it?" Startled, I look up from my piles of books to inform him that we'll get to take apart and explore our new squishy human body model next week. Seemingly satisfied with my response, … [Continue reading]

Gifts that Spark Nature Explorations: Nature Walk Bag


I was talking to a friend of mine about this series and made her promise me to never let me commit to a 31 day series again.  I absolutely love designing themed gift guides and do it all the time for my family.  What I failed to take into account was … [Continue reading]

Exploring Creepy Crawly Bugs: A Gift Guide (Day 10)


Bugs!  What's not to love about bugs.  Ok, they are slimy, creepy, sometimes dangerous, and frequently annoying.  But they are also fascinating - especially for our children.  I'm sure you've experienced this...  You are out for a walk with the … [Continue reading]

World War I and II Themed Gifts


It seems a bit morbid that several of my themed gift posts have centered around war, but they do have a tendency to shape the course of history and provide a benchmark to place other historical events into context. Today, I want to give some ideas … [Continue reading]

We’re Learning about the Civil War: Gift Ideas


I hesitate a little with this list because we will be studying the Civil War this spring, so I don’t have direct experience with most of these items.  But these are ideas that I’m considering for our Christmas this year and as you'll see when you get … [Continue reading]

Little House and Other Pioneer Inspired Gift Ideas (Day 7)

Gift Ideas that Inspire your Pioneer

Yes, this is vintage homeschooling and that lanky girl in the magenta shirt is me. One of my favorite field trips as a girl was down to the historic town of Tubac in southern Arizona.  Our group had rented the old school house for the day.  Girls … [Continue reading]