Ready to Launch—Space Toys
Have an astronaut wannabe? Here are some gifts that will truly nurture that interest, all while inspiring creativity and critical thinking.
Little Labs: Stars & Planets
5 to 7 years
What it is: The Little Labs Stars and Planets Science Kit by Thames and Kosmos packs a big punch despite its pint-sized package. The kit includes materials and a 20-page instruction manual for ten space-themed experiments as well as “Try It” sections for follow-up activities. Experiments and projects include, but are not limited to, testing to see which planets can support plant life, creating moon craters and constructing a model solar system.
Why we like it: Each experiment is prefaced by a simple, easy-to-understand question. Directions are entirely visual with little to no reading required. The subsequent summary and answers are written in equally clear language. In general, this kit is an adequate, age-appropriate introduction not only to stars and planets, but to the scientific method as well.
Solar System Adventure Pack
4 to 8 years
What it is: A solar system themed activity set for use with the LeapFrog Tag reader. One side of the board lets children learn about the temperature, moons, year length, and day length of each planet. There are even games that test your recall of the knowledge you learned while playing with the set.
Why we like it: We appreciate the time and effort LeapFrog puts into the study of how children learn and retain information. It is evident in this toy, which merges fun, exploration, and learning seamlessly.
Star Wars: Darth Vader: A 3-D Reconstruction Log
8 & up
What it is: Darth Vader is deconstructed page-by-page, and each page lets readers peel back a layer of his armor and anatomy. Text reads as a how-to for creating the villain.
Why we like it: Discover how Darth Vader eats, breathes, studies, and moves. Kids will learn about sci-fi technology and organ systems, since each step is rooted in actual human biology.
Discovery Spaceship and Lift Off Rocket
3 & up
What it is: A four level space ship, two astronauts, a working robot, land vehicle, a flag, solar panels, and many accessories
Why we like it: This imaginative set propels pretend-play scenarios that will take young explorers to infinity and beyond.
Kid Pix Deluxe 3D
4 & up
What it is: Kid Pix is a title that has been around for just about as long as software for kids has. The latest installment, Kid Pix Deluxe 3D, does not disappoint with its amazing array of creativity tools.
Why we like it: Though not an obvious choice for this list, the latest version of Kid Pix offers a space background that lets kids put themselves into their own lunar adventure.