Hello everyone. My name is Alison and I am the mother of a rambunctious four-year-old. I also have a passion both for literacy and reading (and have worked as an elementary school teacher and public librarian) and STEM/coding. I purchased Mochi because I wanted to introduce coding in an enjoyable, age-appropriate way. My son and I have had a lot of fun learning to move Mochi around his space story mat and I also have been encouraging my son to tell me little “mini-stories” of other adventures Mochi might have in space, after his initial voyage. Telling and listening to stories is a great way for young kids to stretch their imagination, grow vocabulary and practice listening and communication skills. Plus, it’s just plain fun.
This weekend, I decided to take my son’s verbal mini stories about space travel one step further, especially as an important space launch is scheduled—the first launch of NASA astronauts, in collaboration with SpaceX, into orbit from US soil in nearly a decade. I wrote out a “mad libs style” story about a trip my son and Mochi could take, on the SpaceX Dragon capsule and Falcon rocket. I left lots of blank space for my son to give me some fun details, and we ended up with a story about a rocket fueled by jelly beans docking with an International Space Station filled with baby rattles and roaring lion toys. Then, I made up a blank story mat on a piece of poster board, and my son and I filled it with images from our story (including some Internet images and a few of our own doodles). Now my son can put Mochi into his cart and program him to travel around the board, acting out his new story.
We continued our space theme with one more fun activity I’d like to share with you—a balloon rocket launch. We strung about 20 feet of fishing line between two chairs, with a straw threaded onto the line. We taped an image of a rocket to a blown up and binder clipped (but not tied) balloon that was taped to the straw, unclipped the balloon, and whoosh, we had liftoff. And liftoff…and liftoff…and liftoff (my son did not want to stop).
Anyway, thank you for allowing me to share my activities, ideas, and cute kid. I’d like to encourage you, first of all, to watch the launch if at all possible. I personally think it is very exciting that we are “back in the game” of space exploration. Also, I would like to encourage you and your child to bring some storytelling into your Mochi play, whether it be through simple verbal mini-stories or a full-on written original story and matching story mat. You will be building important literacy skills, and you may be surprised at what wacky and wild details your child comes up with.