Planets and the Solar System

The Solar System craze started about a half a year ago (August 2014). Planets caught E.’s attention while having the usual pre-dinner-youtube-video-watching session. Since then she’s been an expert in this field just like we needed to become.

Let me start with our favourite videos:

The very first song in the line – The Solar Sytemn Song by KidsTV123

She liked it so much that we had to watch it several times and of course more came:

The planets song by KidsTv123

She quickly learned the next one, so at bedtime I had to sing this song 7/11:
(Carful, this tune is so catchy that you might wake up in the middle of the night singing it in your head)
After What shape is it? here is another video from the same youtube channel with the title: What planet is it? Annoying for parents, fascinating for kids 🙂 You can also learn about some dwarf planets like Pluto, Ceres, Makemake, Charon etc.
E. loves the next  Solar system video too, although the colours of the planets are not so accurate. She mentions it every time we watch it. I guess it is an Indian video, and the pronunciation is a little funny. Still, we watch it a lot. She knows exactly how to pronounce the names of the planets and I want her to listen to as many different accents as possible.

These videos are not only about the names of the planets in our Solar System but also give some interesting information about them.

Then, we found Storybots on youtube. It’s hilarious. Even for parents. At last something I and Daddy love watching, too. Well, the next videos are not typical children videos. First: The Solar System Rap
(For a week we were playing the “Microphone game” i.e. throwing a microphone to each other – E. was the Sun, I was Mercury, Daddy was Venus (!) and  Doggie was Mars. The game always ended with Mars as the dog couldn’t catch the microphone 🙂 By the way, Daddy made the microphone out of a kitchen roll tube, a deodorant cap and some duct tape.)

I’m hot – the Sun song

I could go on and on adding more videos in the topic. But if your child is intereted in the planets you’ll find them anyway through the above mentioned examples.
Other fun with planets and the solar system:
After the videos, I had to make the Solar System on her plate. The following is just one occasion. The Solar System made out of frankfurters, but I’ve already made it out of fruit, cheese and bacon, vegetables etc.:

 

Here is a link where you can find a fruity solar system snack for kids together with a colouring sheet of planets.
I love the asteroid belt 🙂
 If something is in the  middle of E.’s attention, she recreates it in all fields of life – like drawing:
(While she was drawing the picture below she was in English, later we changed languages and she asked me to write the names of the planets in Hungarian)
Why did she put the cotton buds on the planets?  – It beats me…

I prepared a pom-pom colour sorting activity for her one afternoon (in September), which turned into a Solar System activity again. (It’s a kind of size comparison as well.)

Here is a video about her naming the planets in English and at the end she also sings one of the planet songs.

At the playground (at the beginning of October) we made the Solar System out of sand. It wasn’t my idea, but hers.

Sand Solar System

 

Destroying the Sun

 

Destroying all the planets

I made her a magnetic Solar System to play with. I found the following printable online at 2teachingmommies.com. You can find their Planet shadow match in their Space unit. (After downloading a zip file you need to print the Planet_shadow_match.pdf)

I printed and laminated the shadow sheets (2 x A/4) and the planets (1 x A/4). I cut out the planets first then I laminated them and cut them out again. In this way they are more durable. Adding Velcro is recommended in the explanations of the original planet shadow matching task but I used small magnets (you can buy them in Creative Hobby Shops) which are sticky on one side (I couldn’t glue the Velcro on the laminated sheets)

Sometimes we play with it on the floor, but nowadays the Solar System is on our fridge:

Here is a video how we play with it in Hungarian.

Last, but not least – salt dough planets. I’m sure the time comes in every family when they make salt dough, or some sort of home-made dough but you can use any kind of modelling clay as well. In this way E. could see the sizes compared to the sun (which is a yellow plastic ball). Originally we wanted to paint them, but somehow they disappeared during Christmas time.

E. wanted Pluto added. It’s made out of kitchen foil

For Christmas, E. got a Solar System Model Making Kit.

On Boxing Day the three of us were working on it all day.

mixing the right colours

We needed to paint and assemble the planets, then hang them on rods with fishing lines placing them around the sun in the centre.

drying the planets

I added some glow plaint (which was included in the set. The planets glow in the dark.) It was a great family activity (in English). It looks nice in our living room hanging from the central lamp. (Sorry, the photo was taken with my mobile phone.)

Let’s read how we should put the whole thing together

 

measuring the fishing line
This post has turned out to be a long one, but my main aim was to show you how many different activities you can do around a subject, let it be the Solar System, fruit or cars. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on buying props or toys (see the sandpit or the pom-pom or the drawing fun). And there are just a few activities which needs preparation (planet shadow match or the model making). So let your and your little one’s imagination fly and build the topic of interest in your everyday playtime.

"Amimals" – in zoos

Going to the zoo was always my favourite activity as a child (still love it today) so I could hardly wait for E. to get at least a little bit interested. And the time has come.

Our first time to the Budapest zoo was when she was 6 months old. It was more fun for me than for her. She had a look at the camels (and smiled when saw them pee) and the farmyard and then fell asleep. She only woke up for nursing (which I managed in the disabled loo) then went back to sleep again.

But now as she is over 1 (15 months old more precisely) she takes pleasure in walking around and looking at animals.

Visiting relatives in Debrecen gave us the sudden idea to visit the zoo there. It was actually a great idea. We all loved it. We were already in the zoo for half an hour (saw some parrots, giraffes and monkeys) when I realised what a good occasion would this be to use English (our Hungarian relatives didn’t accompany us). So we just sang our song to signal the change in using languages and continued our animal adventure in English.

As we were walking around, we described everything to her in English (and as usual she was repeating everything like a parrot):

  • what animals we saw (turtles, a hippo, penguins  – her favourites, more monkeys, laughing doves, roosters and hens, camels, goats, ostriches and lions)
  • what they looked like (“Look, the camel has two big humps”; “Wow, this rooster has a huge red comb on his head”)
  • what sounds they gave (roar, squeak, cock-a-doodle-do, coo-coo etc.)
  • what the animals were served for dinner (fruits, vegetables, mouse, rabbit etc.)

At the end of our visit we found a wooden playground where there were a lot of animals. E.’s favourite was the caterpillar. She climbed on it and rode it for about 15 minutes. We also counted and named the caterpillar’s legs, eyes, mouth and antennae.

Our second English tour in the zoo was in Budapest with our native nanny, A.
I learnt some new animal names (e.g.:cassowary) and we had a wonderful day with a lot of English (I tried to stay in the background and let A. and E. interact with each other a lot). The photos speak for themselves.

E.’s favourite place was the Butterfly House, where we could see how butterflies come out of their pupa, and of course, there were plenty of different types of butterflies flying around, eating oranges or just resting on the plants. We had to go back once again before leaving the zoo. E. was running around and one could see on her little face how amazed she was. Her favourite animals are butterflies at the moment.

Morpho peleides butterfly – blue on the inside
E.’s pointing at the butterfly she liked the most, saying: “orange”

After the zoo experience I found a nice page where the metamorphosis of a butterfly can be seen quite nicely. So I printed it and E.”coloured” it 🙂 with my help.

We also watched the seal show at 11 o’clock. A big crowd gathered to see the seals but everything was explained in Hungarian only. (Sorry A., I didn’t interpret it at all 😦  )

E. was fascinated by the ball (and not the seal…)

 

Baby Giraffe

E. was sleeping when we went to see the Neanderthals. It’s a relatively new exhibition of a (wax) Neanderthal family. This little boy with the cave drawing was my favourite.

After E. woke up we had some lunch (vegetable dish for E. and sandwiches for A. and myself – I wish E. hadn’t said “people” for the first time while I put a spoonful of her dish into her mouth)

 

Flamingoes

We also went to see the baby elephant, but E. was more interested in a turtle shell:

Another favourite place was the traditional Hungarian farmyard. Rabbits were E.’s favourite. We had to return for a second visit. E. was repeating the words like “rabbit”, “hop”, “carrot” and “apple” all the way through. E. had an incident with the foal, which wanted to eat her shoes.

All in all, we enjoyed ourselves to a great extent and will return to practise our English as well as having fun around “amimals” – as E. says.

Games in the playground

I was in trouble with the names of some playground games, so here is another wordlist and pictures to identify them more easily:



hammock
sandbox

English
Hungarian
swing
hinta
hammock swing
függőágy (hinta)
seesaw
mérleghinta
jungle gym, monkey bars
mászóka
slide
csúszda
rope ladder
kötélháló
sandpit, sandbox
homokozó

swing
see-saw
slide






jungle gym

monkey bars

Our playgrounds are not so varied as for the games. As soon as we come across some other playground equipment I’ll write about them.

Swinging up and down – games in the playground

Swinging and seesawing

When we go to the park, we always visit one of the playgrounds nearby.
As I didn’t know a good swing song in English, I asked a good friend of mine, K. and she recommended the following:

Swinging up and down in my great big swing,
Swinging up and down in my great big swing,
Swinging up and down in my great big swing,
Won’t you be my darling?

Looking all around in my great big swing,
Looking all around in my great big swing,
Looking all around in my great big swing,
Won’t you be my darling?
Swaying back and forth in my great big swing,
Swaying back and forth in my great big swing,
Swaying back and forth in my great big swing,
Won’t you be my darling?
Swinging up and down in my great big swing,
Swinging up and down in my great big swing,
Swinging up and down in my great big swing,
Won’t you be my darling?

By the way K. is on facebook with her Rhyming nursery. She’s got lots of great ideas to have fun in English with kids.

Another playground game that an 11-month-old can enjoy is the seesaw. Here is a song to sing along:

See Saw Margery Daw,
Johnny shall have a new master;
Johnny shall earn but a penny a day,
Because he can’t work any faster.

 

I really like the Gracie Lou character, so here is a version of it.

This song has been made into a swing song by Helen Doron. I don’t want to breach any copyrights so here is the lyrics only:

 

See Saw Margery Daw,
Johnny is swinging with granny;
He is swinging and it’s lots of fun
And it can be very funny.

 

Well, I sing it with “mommy” instead of “granny” and I, of course, replace “Johnny” with E.

I also know some other seesaw rhymes:

See-Saw Sacradown,
Which is the way to London town?
One foot up, the other foot down,
That is the way to London town.
or
See-Saw, up and down,
Tommy goes up, Tommy goes down.
I’ll be back with more playground stuff.