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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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Space Theme Train Tracks & Old Tracks, New Tricks

My 6-year old has a favorite Space Theme joke: "What planet is the most musical?" Do you know? I'll put a picture here so you have half a second to think...

Did you figure it out? The answer is... "Nep-tune!"  :D

I will seriously never get too old for 6-year old jokes.

Obviously, today we're talking about space, train tracks, and one of our new favorite books: Old Tracks, New Tricks.  This book is incredible...it has inspired LOADS of new train track creativity, experiments, story-telling, art work, and more!

The "track tricks" and track-themed inventions inside this book are genius. I'm not even joking when I tell you that we read the book, dumped out a bag of train tracks, and found the kids obsessed with creating their own "track tricks" and cool designs for days. On the first day, they literally played with tracks for hours.

Fun Fact: The author made sure that every track trick balanced on its own before she took pictures and included them in the book! That way kids can reproduce any of them!

Our kids built new tracks with pillows, couches, blocks, and other props and experimented with stacking up tracks in ways inspired by the book. The tracks literally became a STEM exploration as the preschoolers experimented, measured, engineered, and used tools to build the coolest tracks they could think of!

The next day, my 4-year old started to decorate a track, and pretty soon everyone was drawing on them. We have read the book many times now, and the kids continue to invent all sorts of fun tracks.

Jessica Peterson is the author and illustrator, and she is amazing! You can get to know her at the book's website Old Tracks, New Tricks or at the train-themed blog she has run for years: Play Trains! AND, she even has this page on the website where you can submit your own "track tricks" and she'll "send [them] through the Track-stagramatic Photo Developer to reveal the tracks' faces!" My son was **so excited** to see himself in "book pages" with his own "track tricks." I'll share his pictures here for you so you can see what the "Track-stagramatic Photo Developer" does:

I mean...seriously! How cool is that?!!

Anyway, we've had the tracks out almost constantly now since our copy of Old Tracks, New Tricks arrived, and we've also started working on some Space Theme activities. Honestly, Space is one of those themes that my kids love so much that we spend time on it at least once every year...often once in the spring and again in the summer.  :)

And, a lot of our tracks are a little beat up (ahem...we've had a lot of kids play with them throughout the last five or so years...), and I thought it would be fun to surprise my kids with a Space Themed Track Set. Jessica totally inspired me--there was actually a time when I thought the tracks should be kept in pristine shape, and I even got after the kids if they colored on them! Now I feel like there are SOOOOO many possibilities for tracks.

Of course, nothing really stays secret for too long here, so once I started making the space tracks, the kids wanted to help too. I loved seeing their take on a "space theme." For example, my daughter made a "fairy planet." They also used copious amounts of glitter.

I originally painted about a dozen pieces in black and then let everyone put their own space themed pictures on the black backgrounds. However, once we started painting, several of my kids went back to "the bag" to get pieces that still had a plain background so they could make their own track all by themselves. And they were awesome (glitter and all).

We used acrylic paint because it sticks to just about everything!

When the pieces were all dried, they were a HUGE hit...it was the perfect Space World on train tracks!!

In fact, they played with them so quickly it was almost impossible to get a picture of their hands in focus!

Besides being loads of fun, making the space tracks let us talk about the planets, dwarf planets, the sun, asteroids, the Kuiper belt, comets, moons, and more. It's the perfect play prop for a space theme, space unit, or space summer camp!

And, it is ridiculously fun to hear kids say things like, "I'm driving over Saturn!"

I'll sign off with one more space-y joke...I hope you can handle it!

Q - "Why did the cow go to outer space?"

A - "To see the Milky Way!"

If you make space themed tracks I would *love* to see pictures of them!! Feel free to send them to my email or leave a comment here or on my Preschool Powol Packets Facebook page!

ALSO...Did you know that March is National Reading Month? I am sharing this book-themed solar system small world as part of the Reading Month series hosted at Learning and Exploring Through Play! Click HERE to see loads of other fun books with paired projects and activities for kids!

And have a wonderful reading month!!

Amazon Affiliate Link:

Disclosure: We were provided with a free copy of Old Tracks, New Tricks to use in any way we saw fit. 

Happy Educating,


I may share at any of these parties!

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Monday, March 20, 2017

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13+ Butterfly Crafts ~ Easy & Awesome!

I am planning our next butterfly unit and decided to make a collection of some of my favorite Butterfly Crafts for kids from around the internet!

Some of these are projects we've done and loved and some are butterfly crafts I've seen our friends do and can't wait to try them!

I love to pair a butterfly craft with a picture book or science activity. Some of the things I have planned for our kids include butterfly songs and music time, butterfly crafts, butterfly books (I love Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert), raising painted lady butterflies, and a few science and art activities I'll share in the next few days.

So, without any more introduction, here are my favorite....

Butterfly Crafts:

Okay...admit it: those are some of the most adorable butterfly crafts you've seen! And I LOVE how they are all made by kids!! 

Do you have a favorite? I'd love to know what your plans are! And if you make another butterfly craft, drop me a note and let me know...I'm always looking for new ideas!

Happy Educating,


I may share at any of these parties!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!

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