Amy Wung Tsao
When the Moon hits your eye...
Updated: Apr 10
A Note from Amy
Happy Spring! While this newsletter focuses on STEM, I wanted to share a couple non-STEM picture books in honor of Disability Awareness Month. It’s hard to talk to my kids about topics that I’m still learning about, but these two picture books helped.
“Not So Different:What You Really Want to Ask About Having A Disability” by Shane Burcaw, illustrated by Matt Carr, is honest and direct, but in a language and style that is approachable to kids. The author also has an active and informative YouTube channel that he shares with his wife Hannah Aylward.
“All the Way to the Top” by Annette Bay Pimentel and illustrated by Nabi Ali tells the true story of child activist Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins climbing the steps of the Capitol without her wheelchair, to push Congress to pass the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). This true story of activism has stayed with me a long time.
If you know any other picture books about disability inclusion and activism, I’d love for you to share them with me!
“Don't tell me the sky's the limit
There's footprints on the moon”
― from “There’s a World Out There” as sung by Paul Brandt
Has this happened to you yet? You tell a child that the moon wakes up at night and goes to sleep in the morning. And then one day that child asks you why you can sometimes see the moon during the day too. And even though you have a PhD in engineering you don’t actually know the answer?
No joke, I learned the answer by watching some of the videos below! And I’ve got some great books and activities to recommend this month too. (Just a reminder - I am never paid to mention any of these resources; there are no affiliate links.)
by the StoryBots
A catchy tune that also explains the moon’s orbit, and how it reflects to Sun’s light! It’s too quick to explain those things in depth, but it’s a fun way to introduce the topic and gauge whether a kid is interested in knowing more. If Storybot videos are too flashy for your kid, there’s now a book version of this song as well.
by SciShow Kids
This is a great video for younger kids who don’t know why the moon changes shape! For older kids who already understand the phases of the moon, this SciShow kids video might be better for them: Why Can I See the Moon During the Day?
Mystery Doug (YouTube)
I did not know before watching this video that the moon had lava rocks on it! For someone who professes to love space science, it turns out I knew very little about our moon.
NASA gives us a quick tour of which planets in our solar systems have moons too, and how they’re different from our Moon. If you prefer reading, NASA has the same information with comic-style illustrations on their website here.
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me
By Eric Carle
I know everyone loves The Hungry Caterpillar, but this is the Eric Carle book that gets read the most in my house. It’s not a straightforward STEM book, as there are imaginative elements (Papa climbs up a ladder to retrieve the Moon and bring it back down to Earth). But the story does a lovely job illustrating the phases of the Moon for a preschool age child!
If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon
By Joyce Lapin, illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli
I mean, the title alone is so great, isn’t it? This book imagines how long it would take to get to the Moon, what you would need to wear to deal with the Moon’s landscape and lack of air, and how birthday games like a piñata would work go.
By Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Let Moon introduce herself, and tell you all about where she came from and what she’s like now! If you like this one, there’s a whole series, including “Sun! One in a Billion”, “Mars! Earthlings Welcome”, and many more!
By Linda McReynolds, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke
This is a relatively simple book more appropriate for preschool or kindergarten age kids, but it captures all the highlights of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, in an appealing rhyme. A great introduction to the human history of exploring the Moon!
Moon Crater Gross Motor Activity
From Pre-K Pages
Have your kids throw a ball at a toothpaste moon to make “craters”. This is a pretty memorable way to reinforce how asteroids made craters on the real Moon, with bonus points for physical activity outside! Perfect for younger kids, but I bet older siblings will join the fun as well.
from SciShow kids
If you’ve got preschoolers working on their tracing or cutting, this activity also works on those fine motor skills. And if you’ve got a kid that likes puzzles, they might feel pretty cool making their own puzzle of the moon!
Make a Marshmallow Lunar Lander
This one is for the older kids who like to tinker and invent! How hard was it to land astronauts safely on the Moon? Make your own lander using a paper or plastic cup, some index cards, plastic straws, rubber bands, and marshmallows to be your “astronauts.” While the instructions are written as a classroom activity, I could also see this as a fun think-outside-the-box challenge for a kid who has a long rainy afternoon ahead of them.
I’d be over the moon if you found any of these suggestions helpful!
Credit: Evite, Giphy
I’ll be back next month talking about the magic (actually the science) of flight! Until then, have fun lighting sparks of curiosity!