25 Fantastic Space Activities for Toddlers They’ll Love!
Space is a fascinating subject, and for toddlers, it is even more mesmerizing. It is so abstract, so strange, and so captivating at the same time. The moon, the planets, the rocket ships, the astronauts are all exciting. My 3-year-old son is absolutely in love with anything space-related. So I thought I’d share with you all the space activities for toddlers and play ideas we’ve enjoyed at home.
Our favorite space activities for toddlers
If your little one is into all things space-related, or if you want to expand their horizons, you can choose some of these things to do! There are so many space-themed activities you can do and create at home!
Here you’ll find 25 ideas for playtime, arts & crafts, and storytime. There are many crafts that you can create together! Or maybe you can make them, and your little ones can play with your creations afterward 😅
Honestly, you don’t need to go buying a lot of fancy stuff to keep them engaged and entertained. But if you want, there are also some great space toys and sets that you can find. I hope that you’ll have a wonderful time together doing some of these things side by side.
1. Space sensory bins with black beans
I haven’t been doing these for a long. I was always scared my child would put the tiny things on the tray in his mouth and eat them, so it wasn’t until recently that we bought the Flisat table. It would have been great to have from when they were 18-24 months. Oh well! If you have younger kids, get it before I did 😉
I filled the bins with black beans and some rocks. I used 1,5kg of beans so it would be good depth for playing and exploring. My son has scooped the beans and beads, hidden astronauts and robots under them, and transferred things from one tray to the other. It has kept him busy and entertained.
If you have a child with coeliac disease, check that the beans are ok and there is no cross-contamination. Beans are naturally gluten-free. So technically there should not be a problem. Lentils are naturally gluten-free but due to crop rotation they are usually contaminated and it is hard for them to be GF. I always go with beans, or chickpeas for sensory play to be sure there are no risks at home.
2. Space sensory bins with black water beads
If you haven’t played with water beads yet you have to try these. We bought this set from Ainolway on Amazon and it is wonderful. The set came with beads, 2 astronauts, 3 big foam planets, and 8 bouncy balls space-themed. I suggest this for older toddlers that know they can not put things in their mouths.
You get the beads that are dry and super tiny and you soak them in water. After 4 hours they have grown in size x10 and the children love to play with them. The box says that for each teaspoon of beads you need 3 cups of water. After 6 hours of soaking there was still a lot of water left so I drained it.
3. Space exploration play with cramped paper from delivery boxes
I built a scene of a planetscape. I got a delivery with all this paper cramped in the box, and I thought we’d put it to good use before throwing it in the recycling bin. So I placed our big rocket in the middle and left some loose parts around it so the astronauts could go exploring. He was so excited when he got home and found this set up in the living room.
4. Moonwalking on kinetic sand
It’s fun to create miniature worlds and pretend you are someplace else. So we created this moon landscape with kinetic sand and rocks. Add a rocket, an astronaut, and some rovers, and have fun! My son enjoyed making tracks on the sand with the rovers and just pretending we were on the moon.
5. Build a space rocket with Grimm’s toys
My son came up with this rocket combining Grimms boxes, Grimms semicircles, a wooden bowl, a wooden hoop and an egg. One of Grimm’s rainbow friends is the astronaut here. I love it when they surprise you with their creations.
6. Create a flat design rocket with Grimms semicircles
This rocket will take us to the farthest places in our imaginations. Hop on!
7. Intergallactic loose part designs
You can get creative with loose parts and create space-themed designs! We love to play with our Grapat mandala set. Here you have a rocket ship and some planets. I think we’ll be creating the Milky Way next 😉
8. Space mandalas
Also with loose parts, you can create mandalas. Geometrical and symmetrical designs that are space-related. Imagine adding comets, planets, astronauts, stars, and even asteroids.
9. Build rockets with magnetic tiles
Oooo! We’ve had our share building and creating rocket ships in so many different ways! 3D or 2D either flat or vertical. You can create the flat against the window, fridge, board, or magnetic wall, or vertical like the one in the picture and the play of light is incredible.
10. Toilet paper roll rockets
This one is an elementary paper roll activity.
For this, you need:
- Toilet paper roll
- Aluminium foil
- Clothes pegs (I reused some painted ones)
- Washi tape or stickers.
Wrap the paper roll with aluminum foil and decorate with washi tape or the stickers. Clip 4 clothespins at the bottom. You have the body ready.
For the top, you must cut a circle out of paper. Then, cut a straight line from one side to the center. Finally, fold overlapping and tape to create a cone.
Place it over the body, I stick it with two bits of washi tape from the inside of the toilet paper roll. I press the tape against the top by inserting a chopstick from the bottom of the rocket. That way you can ensure it is secure on both sides and that it won’t fall off.
Combine and play in many ways.
11. Color matching stars and rays
There are many types of stars that have been discovered in our universe. They classify stars into eleven categories depending on their size and color. For example, the White dwarf is the minor star in the cosmos, and the largest is a Red Hypergiant. In between, we have the Yellow Dwarf (which is our sun) and also the Blue Giant and many other types.
So I simplified the categories and created this activity for my son to do some color matching and practice fine motor skills. I set it up with all the painted pegs in a bowl so he could choose and clip the pegs to the same colour one. Here we have a White Dwarf, the Yellow Dwarf, the Blue Giant and the Red Hypergiant.
I love these color-matching peg activities.
12. Create a Comet
This idea we got from Nasa’s activity ideas page (You should check it out). For this, you’ll need:
- Metallic ribbon
A comet is a chunk of rock, ice, and gas traveling through space. When they come near the sun, they heat up, and they leave a trail. The comet has four main parts. First, there is the nucleus, the main body, the chunk of rock and ice. Then there is the coma, which is a glowing part around the core. Finally, it has two tails: a dust tail and a gas tail.
If you have three color ribbons, you can make a shorter one with is the coma, and the rest are the dust and the gas tail. Use two metallic ribbon strings for each trail to make it more visible.
13. Make Peg doll astronauts
Now, this has been fun and relatively simple to make. You can easily get little ones involved with this one. Ours is a very minimalist and straightforward astronaut – nothing fancy really with hardly any details. The only thing is that since it is white, you need some coats and let it dry in between. They can help first, and you finish it up. If you’d like a more detailed explanation with step-by-step pictures of the process check it out here.
To make the astronaut, you will need:
- Plain wooden peg doll
- Washi tape
- White paint
- Acrylic markers: black, silver, and blue
An astronaut suit is white; you only need to leave some space for the face. So to protect that area put some washi tape. And then paint everything around it.
As I said, you might want a second or third coat. Then, again, your child can do it all or help with the first layer, and you finish it off.
Once it is dry, it’s micro detail time. I used acrylic paint markers for this. I am not that good with a paintbrush. Add the eyes, and if you want, frame the face with silver and add a little color circle as a badge. I did a small blue circle with some silver dots. They could even stick a sticker here. Varnish it let it dry.
And voilà! You have an astronaut! I did it with the female and male peg dolls ☺️.
14. Watercolor planets
This activity I did with my daughter but my son could have easily joined in (but he was more interested in exploring the sensory tray with the astronauts). The result would have been more different and chaotic but it would have been fun.
I cut eight different circles in different sizes and then we looked at references in our books to paint them with watercolors and learn about each one. She split the planets into two piles and we did our planets sitting side by side. We had a lovely time together.
15. Stamping the Moon
The result of this one is so simple and so beautiful, that I framed it and it is decorating the room. You won’t be using a brush to create it. All you need is a ball of aluminium foil.
You will need:
- Paper with a circle
- Black and white paint
- Aluminium foil
- Black card
- Paintbrush or stickers
Draw a circle on a white sheet of paper. Take a piece of aluminium foil and crush it together, it will be your paintbrush. Dab some black and white paint and use the aluminium foil to stamp the paint onto the moon.
While it is drying, take the black sheet and add some white dots as stars. I use the rubber of a pencil to stamp little circles (it’s easier than using a paintbrush).
Once the moon is dry, cut it out and glue it on the black card with the stars. There you have it! Your moon.
You could even adapt this as a card with the message “I love you to the moon and back”. Just an idea 😉
16. Moon phases
This activity is a yummy one. You will need Oreos and a knife they can use. You can also set it up as a snack and explain while showing them the different moon phases in a book. We’ll keep it simple for toddlers and do the four main moon phases: New moon, First Quarter, Full moon, and Last Quarter.
17. Read space books
Reading books about space is another great activity to do together. They can see and learn concepts that are not linked to their daily lives and it is fascinating for them. Not only during storytime, but we also like to read right before or while we play and it is fantastic.
I have another post with over 15 books about space (check it out here), but I’ll share with you the ones that I feel are fantastic for kids ages 2 & 3:
Bizzy Bear: Space Rocket – Benji Davies.
It’s a short board book with mechanisms that any toddler that loves space will enjoy. For example, my son loves the countdown: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – Blastoff!
Stars – Peppa Pig
George is obsessed with space, and Peppa can’t understand why. So daddy Pig tells her about stars, and they go and visit Grandpa, who lets them look through their telescope. It is a delightful and basic story that will introduce your little one to some concepts about space. They learn about the North Star, Saturn’s rings, and telescopes. It is exactly like the episode from Peppa Pig with the same name.
8 Little Planets – Chris Ferrie & Lizzy Doyle
Check out this vibrant little board book that introduces all eight planets from the farthest to the closest to the sun. It is a fantastic book to introduce them to the planets with rhymes and a couple of facts about each one.
These last two, I would say, are for kids 4-6 years old, but my son loves them!
There is No Place Like Space – Tish Rabe & Aristides Ruiz
The Cat in the Hat takes us on a trip around space in this rhyming book in a style true to Dr. Seuss. It is a revised edition with our current eight planets in our solar system and a whimsical way to learn about them.
Look Inside Space (Usborne) – Rob Lloyd Jones
One of his latest fascinations is this lift the flap book about space. The astronauts, the planets, the rockets, and the spacecraft all have him mesmerized. It might be for older children, but he enjoys looking at it by himself and pointing out all the things he knows.
18. The Smeds and the Smoos play
I used some plain peg dolls and painted Janet and Bill, the two main characters from this lovely book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. The Smeds are red and the Smoos are blue. What happens when a Smed and a Smoo become friends?
We reenacted the story with our little peg dolls. The rest of characters were Grimm’s rainbow friends and Grapat’s Tomten. I love that they are so versatile that they can be whoever you want in any story.
19. Do Puzzles
Last year, my son’s teacher told us he was having trouble concentrating on tasks and that he quickly jumped to the next activity. His teacher encouraged us to find some activity that would require fine motor skills and concentration to improve his concentration span. We discovered he loves puzzles and went in that direction.
He loves this puzzle by Djecto- it’s too easy for him now, but we did it many times when he was 2.
We like playing with this shapes puzzle set with cards. The rocket is one of his his favourite challenges. It is a great game and creative exercise.
Finally, this rocket from Janod is beautiful and also a magnetic puzzle. We got it for him when he was 1 and he was too young. He ignored it really and I was about to give it away when he was 2 but then he fell in love with it. He plays with it every week. At first as a puzzle and now as a rocket for his pretend play.
We’ve done a lot of coloring at home. With a circle, they can color planets and the moon. They can also color rockets, astronauts, and stars. We are still at a stage where we go outside the lines but at least now color combinations are becoming more accurate.
I like drawing myself, but if not you have some coloring pages with facts from Nasa. Who know more about space than them, right? 😉
21. Space drawings
And of course, there is always free drawing. So I placed some books in front of my son, and I was impressed to see what he drew! It was planet Earth! And a rocket-powered by Magic Jelly power inspired by Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom episode “Picnic on the moon”, which he loves. He was so proud of his creation 😍
22. Create rice art mosaics
If you haven’t played with coloured rice you have to try this. It is very simple and cheap. You just need a few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry (rice, vinegar and food coloring) some paper and glue. Learning how to make colored rice is super easy, trust me! You can check out this post for tips and ideas 😉
23. Create a space scene with stickers
My son – like all 3-year-olds – enjoys playing with stickers. It is also a great way to practice fine motor skills. It is not that simple for them to peel the sticker off and stick it. So practice is good.
We have this wonderful Space activity book from National Geographic filled with over 1000 stickers. Although most of them are meant to be used in some activities in the book we sometimes go rogue and just stick them on a sheet of black or navy paper. He loves it.
24. Create a rocket with geometric shapes on the light table
This is also a nice activity but it requires a bit more concentration. Place a drawing of a rocket on the light table and have them fill it with geometric translucent shapes.
You can also create it tracing the magnetic tiles and they have to fill it in. This version is more simple and easy for them.
25. Play with Duplo Space set
This is one of his favourite toys now. The rocket is fantastic because it can go everywhere: mud, water beads, kinetic sand, the tub, the pool, the beach… the sky is the limit. You can take it apart, so it is very easy to clean.
Space activities for toddlers – a fantastic way to learn while having fun
We’ve always read a lot about space at home and we are fascinated by the Cosmos. But this week is World Science Week and it was the perfect excuse to do some more activities and put this list together.
I hope you will enjoy doing some of these at home with your little ones, or hopefully it will spark new ideas to create together.
Happy space exploring!