Mae Jemison is an American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut who became the first black woman to travel into space. February is Black History Month, and Mae Jemison is an exceptional figure to teach young children about. Reading the book Mae Among the Stars written by Roda Ahmed and illustrated by Stasia Burrington is a great way to share the life of Mae. The story shares Mae's curiosity, intelligence, and determination from a young age that will inspire to reach for the stars, dream big, aspire for the impossible, and persist with imagination.
After you read the inspiring story you can set up a small world play where the children can explore being an astronaut through play. To set up this small world play you will need a sensory tray, black sand, rocks, space figurines, and planets. Simply invite the child to explore, imagine, and play in space just like Mae.
Small world play accompanied with sensory materials are a great way for extending literacy, language, imaginary play, and tactile play. Through play they can reenact what they see in stories and deepen their understanding to the concepts of the book. This type of play can be defined as where children accept and assign roles, then act them out. When children engage in play they break through the walls of reality, use their imagination, pretend to be someone or something different from themselves, explore different worlds, and have actions to go along with the roles they have chosen to play.This type of play is an integral part of the developmental learning process by allowing children to develop skills in such areas as abstract thinking, literacy, math, & social studies, in a timely natural manner. They are able to play and manipulate a variety of materials and textures that stimulate their mind & body while deepening their connection and understanding of the book.
For more Black History Month Activities and Invitations check out this 20 here!