Welcome back to the Creative Cuties Craft Corner, finding you awesome activities that you and your mini-me can do together while creating lasting memories. This time we explore galaxy jars and how children can use them for sensory learning and science.
We know that the world is full of adventure, but what about the stars? Space has always been a mystery to us but learning about it is tons of fun, especially for creative cuties.
This DIY project for kids is a fantastic way to learn and express oneself with fun and easy to get supplies you most likely may have around your home already. It helps children feel a sense of accomplishment and creativity they can use in other aspects of their lives.
Creating a galaxy or nebula jar not only sparks a conversation about the space beyond our planet but is also a fun way to explore sensory education. Sensory play and learning assists little ones with smelling, touching, and understanding texture in an environment with little expectation. Additionally, it encourages motor skill development, scientific thinking, and problem-solving using mindful activities. These skills, in turn, help build positive pathways that tell little learners it's safe to engage.
Need another reason? How about learning attributes and ways to describe new things? Sensory play helps set up questions for children to draw their own conclusions. Whether they something is rough or sticky, cold or dry, bright or smelly, they naturally increase their vocabulary and understanding of the world around them. Learning what types of information are helpful versus what can be filtered out can also help calm an anxious, frustrated, or overstimulated child. Not to mention, it's just plain fun!
What You'll Need...
These supplies may already be in your home and, if not, require a simple trip to the dollar store. Another relatively simple craft, directions are adjustable to fit the age of your little learner best. Moreover, clean-up is as simple, so there's no fear of big messes when completed.
- mason jar/ water bottle
- cotton balls
- 3-4 types of food coloring/ watercolor paints/ acrylic tempura
- cotton balls
- glitter/ confetti
A Little Something Extra...
Feel free to save money by recycling a jar or bottle from your kitchen. Depending on the size of your container, you may need more ways to fill and create more "space" on the inside. For this, you would use more water and add in a few drops of baby oil and a few squirts of glue. If you happen to have glitter glue, don't be afraid to go a little wild.
Tools For Crafting...
We recommend using a flat surface for handling potential spills, drops of paint, or sprinkles, or rouge glitter to apply a large sheet of construction paper or washable/disposable table cloth big enough to cover your entire workspace. Also, to help add items to the jar, a funnel or cup may be helpful in tiny hands. If your jar or bottle is tall or has a slim opening, using a spoon, straw, or other utensils will help stir ingredients together. Otherwise, feel free to shake or swirl contents instead.
How To Make...
Time to create a galaxy! For this example, we will be working with a small mason jar with a lid. We're going to fill 1/3 of the jar with water. From here, add several drops of the paint of your choosing in one color. Close the lid and shake to mix until color and water have blended. Throw in a bit of glitter and swish around to incorporate. Take your cotton balls and stretch them out with your hands. Next, push the stretched cotton balls down to the bottom of the jar until the base is covered. The cotton balls will absorb some of the colored water and glitter.
Now we'll fill the next 1/3 of the jar with water and repeat the process using a different color. The second color will begin to blend slightly with the first, which will create the galactic hues found in space. Repeat steps with your glitter "stars" and stretched cotton balls "nebula clouds." Once some of the liquid and color is absorbed again, repeat all the steps until the jar is full! Tightly secure lid in place and you've got yourselves a galaxy in a jar.
Fun Ways To Play...
Ask your small scientist questions throughout the making process and see what kinds of answers they come up with. These questions will help reinforce the experience and help their brains create stronger connections to sensory information. Again, you can adjust questions to reflect the age of your tiny tot. Yes or no questions are a great way to begin and increase the complexity, so answers require more thought. A few examples are:
How do the cotton balls feel as you pull them?
Do you think outer space is big or small?
When you shake or stir the jar, what does it sound like to you?
What do you see happening inside the jar?
What does the mixture inside the jar smell like?
Do you think we did a good job?
The final result will not only be a fun, pretty reminder of space, a learning experience unlike any other. The best part? You can create a collection of similar jars using different colors or adding in various shapes or mini-figures. The possibilities are as endless as space itself!
Aaaaaaand She's Bored. Time To Store...
Clean up is a simple as storing your paints, glitter, and cotton balls. The added benefit to this craft is that instead of hiding it away in a closet, toy chest, or cubby, your sweet child can put their galaxy on display for all to see. Additionally, they can use it as a calming exercise by shaking up the jar and focusing on how the colors and glitter mix. Place a bright light underneath the jar and see if the contents can light up in the dark or bring it to school for show and tell.
The rest is up to you! Have you tried this process with your little one before? If so, leave a comment below on your experience and what you both learned. We'd absolutely love to hear from our creative cuties out there.