With the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Landing coming up on July 16, 2019, my boys have caught space mania just like everyone else. Our local library’s summer reading program is space themed, and we have been reading lots of great space-themed books. Sarah Mackenzie over at Read-Aloud-Revival has a great space themed booklist, which can be found here.
My boys’ top three space picture books are:
1. Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
2. The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean by Dean Robbins
3. Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann
There have been several great space activities over that past few months at a nearby planetarium. Our local minor league baseball team is partaking in the Global Mass Rocket Launch being hosted by NASA. My boys are very eager for this event, especially Thomas, who is hoping to shoot off his rocket at the event. Paul, my oldest is drooling over the new lego NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander.
Over the years, we have visited numerous air and space centers. Space has always been a favorite topic of at least one of the boys at any given time. Paul was only two years old, the first time we visited the Virginia Air and Space Center. During, the five years we lived in the Hampton Roads area, we visited the VA Air and Space Center regularly. It was an excellent fun way to pass an afternoon. It encouraged a great love of all things space, flight, and airplanes in my young boys.
In the years, that we lived in Virginia, we had the opportunity to take the boys to see both of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The great thing is admission is free to all 20 museums/galleries that make up the Smithsonians. It is well worth taking the detour out of the heart of D.C. down to Chantilly, VA to see the Discovery Space Shuttle, which is housed at the Udvar-Hazy Center. It is an awe-inspiring sight.
When we moved to Alabama, one of the first things on the list of things to do in the area was to visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. I put it on our bucket list of things to do before we leave Alabama. It wasn’t super high on my list because I felt like we had already done the big space centers. Plus, it is an expenses museum to visit (over $100 for our family). It is part of the ASTC and the Smithsonian Affiliate and gives free admission to people with memberships to other museums within those two networks.
We finally went up to Huntsville at the start of the summer to see the U.S. Space and Rocket center- our two oldest boys had been asking for several months to go. I used our membership to The Western North Carolina Nature Center to get our family into the Huntsville Space center for free. This is one of the best memberships I have found. It cost $69 for a family membership (two adults and four kids) and includes reciprocal membership benefits to both ASTC (science centers) and AZA (zoos) networks.
The U.S. Space and Rocket Center absolutely blew my socks off. It was well worth the trip. Even having been to the Smithsonian Air/Space Museums, there was lots of awesome stuff to see. We spent about 3.5 hours at the center and only saw half of what they had. It is a large enough museum that you either need a full day (open to close) or several trips to see everything. I was impressed that all of the simulators and rides were included in regular admission price; which was exciting for the boys. We typically don’t do simulators/rides at museums since they usually cost extra, which quickly adds up with four kids. The space center had something for everyone. The boys are looking forward to going back again. Our family gives the place a thumbs up! I would even be willing to spend full price admission to get our family in if need be, it’s that good!