We're rather excited about space exploration at the moment. The Astro Pi computers that Tim Peake will be running children's code on was scheduled to launch yesterday, however due to inclement weather it was postponed for 24 hrs. You may still be able to see the launch today.
Tim himself sets off for the International Space Station on his 6 month Principia Mission on December 15th. The Principia Mission website have lots of exciting activities, competitions and missions for kids from ages 4 to 18 and above, to get involved with space exploration.
With Christmas fast approaching lots of kids will be interested in space so why not tap in to their interest with a space-themed gift that encourage skills and interest in the STEM subjects.
Usborne have released a fantastic Mini Astronaut's Handbook which is available online or as a free download. It is a brilliant mini version of the Astronaut Handbook which tells you all about becoming an astronaut and what it is like to live in space.
AstroPi hosted a competition (2014 - 2015) with Raspberry Pi Foundation, UK Space Agency, ESA and UK Space Trade Association which gave kids and teens the opportunity to devise computer science experiments for Tim Peake to run aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The winning projects are available online, and once Tim Peake has collected data in space you will be able to play with the code here on Earth! That is so cool.
Look around your local area of activities and events which will build on this exciting time in space exploration and who knows, you may be inspiring the space explorers of tomorrow.
Space Gifts for Preschoolers and Little Kids
Hape Discovery Space Center
For little space fans, the Hape Discovery Space Center is an awesome toy. It's a high quality wooden space shuttle that comes with posable wooden astronaut figures.
It's aimed at children aged around 3 to 5 and is packed with accessories and features to play with.
Playmobil is a firm favourite in many households, due to the great build quality and creative play elements. The Space Rocket Launch Site is recommended for 3 and up. It will definitely require an adult to help with assembly (there are a lot of small parts) and stickering up.
The Rocket is battery operated and make super cool launch sounds and have light-up blasters. you can also connect the Space Shuttle to the Rocket. The Space Shuttle is a separate set (6196).
Stargazer Lottie DollAlthough I don't have any girls, I am a big fan of the Lottie Dolls. Their body shape resembles that of a little girl and a perfect gift for a girls interested in STEM subjects.
Stargazer Lottie comes dressed ready for exploring the stars on a cold wintery night with a telescope, tripod and solar system collector cards. It also includes an additional sheet of notable women in astronomy.
This set is a special edition "Gold Collection" created in collaboration with the European Space Agency, which has a kid friendly website with space games, quizzes and photos.
The Lottie Doll website have a number of space activities you can download and make at home.
The Thunderbirds, a popular British TV series from the 60s, have made a bit of a comeback this year. The orignal series was produced as a form of electronic marionette puppetry (dubbed "Supermarionation") combined with scale model special effects sequences.
This International Rescue Centre, located on Tracy Island, is littered with rockets and space gadgetry including Thunderbird 5 which is a space station relaying distress signals around the globe. My teen loved the Thunderbirds when he was younger and his little brothers are now equally obsessed.
The Tracy Island set is very cool, with lots of original launch sequence phrases from the TV series. Note the Island Set doesn't include the rockets, which are each sold separately, making it a great set to build up over time. We also think it is brilliant for both girls and boys.
Space Gifts for Big Kids
Thames and Kosmos Rocket Science Kit
The Rocket Science kit is aimed at kids ages 8 - 14 and designed to teach the physics behind rocketry. The set includes various items to carry out 18 experiments exploring gravity and inertia, air and water rocket launches.
Solar System Planetarium
The solar system planetarium is a crafty project for big kids and tweens, to explore the solar system.
The set includes all the planets, stencils, paints, etc needed to assemble your very own planetarium model.
Fimo Space Form & Play
Fimo is a polymer clay which let's your kids create their own toys by forming the pliable clay into shape. The clay is then hardened in the oven to create figures and objects for long-lasting play. There are a variety of Fimo Form & Play sets to explore and make with your kids. It's recommended for ages 8 and up but best for adults to handle the oven-baking process to harden the toy.
The set comes with a printed background scene and detailed instruction booklet for the making process. I've just got this set for my kids and looking forward to have a play.
Space Gifts for Tweens and Teens
Water Rocket Kit
If experimentation is what you are after then the 4M Water Rocket Kit is for you. It uses the power of water pressure to blast a recycled soda bottle up to 30 feet into the air.
Adult supervision is required and the manufacturers recommend this for ages 14 plus. You would also need a bicycle pump to complete the experiment, which is not included in the kit.
Earth and Space Book
Published in October 2015, the Earth and Space book, tours the universe with a collection of phenomenal photographs from the NASA archives. Images include Earth from above, the solar system and stars from deep space.
The breathtaking photos are sure to inspire any kid, tween or teen interested in science, astronomy and space travel.
Space Dress-up Costumes
There are lots of fun dress-up costumes on the market for kids interested in space, ranging from astronauts to aliens and Star Wars warriors. Find a dress-up costume for your little explorer here: Space Dress-up UK | Space Costumes USA