Does your preschooler or toddler run through the house at mach speed or try to fly off the end of the couch? Turn that curiosity and energy into entertaining learning experiences. Remember that Ben Franklin flew kites as an adult, and most astronauts dreamed of flying through space from a young age.
Give him wings! Cut two wings from cardboard and have him decorate each one with paints, markers or even feathers. Use duct tape to fasten the wings to the shoulder and wrist on each of your pilot or junior bird man's arms. Make airplanes to fly. Follow paper folding instructions from an instructional online site. Although your preschooler or toddler won't understand all the learning aspects of flying airplanes, he will love folding his own planes and letting them soar through the air, and the paper ones usually don't break lamps. He can also create birds with construction paper and feathers. Tie a string onto the front of the bird, then allow him to hold the string and run in a safe area to make his bird fly. He will learn three different aspects of flying through these activities -- being the body of the plane or bird, throwing a flying object out in front of him and then holding a string to help one fly.
It really is rocket science! Introduce your toddler or preschooler to rockets and how they operate. Make rocket toys from cardboard tubes with a bathroom-sized paper cup taped to the "nose" end. Try an experiment suggested by NASA for children. Have her sit on a merry-go-round, and make it turn slowly to emulate the earth turning. Encourage her to launch her rocket toward a basket while she is actually going around in circles. Try several times so she understands the basics of launching rockets from the earth. Use the same cardboard tube rocket and a jump rope for a different activity. Slip the rocket over the jump rope. You and the rocket-pilot should each take an end of the rope and move it up and down to make the rocket go one direction, then another.
There are many different types of kites to buy or make, with many kite-making resources available online. Let your Ben Franklin feel the wind pulling on the string of a flying kite. Make homemade kites in different sizes for him to try to launch. You can also have him make a simple kite from a paper bag. Tie strings onto the two sides near the open end of any size of bag. He can hold both strings and run with the bag kite behind him to feel the pull of the wind as the bag raises into the air.
What goes up must come down. Show your curious toddler or preschooler some pictures of parachutes on the ground and in the air. Make simple parachutes from handkerchiefs or cloth squares. Attach a string onto each corner of a square and gather the strings together. Tape the strings in a bundle and then onto a cardboard tube or even a small toy. Have your little skydiver toss the parachute into the air and watch it float to the ground. Try dropping the chute from different heights and even attaching different weights and sizes of objects to the chute for a variety of experiences.
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