Happy Moon Landing Day! Since the 50th anniversary two years ago, this has become something of a holiday in our house, just a great chance to celebrate adventure, and science, and America, and beauty, and achievement, all rolled up into one spectacular event.
My apologies up front that a lot of what we do is from things we’ve bought, rather than creative fun like the cut-out one of my kids made for the fridge in the picture above. But I’m not drawing money from links or anything, this is just what we do.
• For the third year in a row, we’re watch the Apollo 11 documentary from 2019. This was really nicely done. Instead of adding voiceover in a vain attempt to say how amazing the mission was, they only used footage and narration from 1969, with some modern mood music. It moves me every time I see it. My kids are captivated up through the launch about halfway through, but then their interest wanes. Today we took a break at the halfway mark, and we’ll come back to it later.
• As we often do throughout the year, we read My Little Golden Book of The First Moon Landing. This is charming, has a good mix of story and science, and is the biggest reason my kids know the difference between the Saturn V, the Columbia, and the Eagle, and the different mission roles of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. My 3-year-old likes the book, and it holds interest for the bigger kids too.
• Last year for Christmas, I asked my folks for the Lego Saturn V model. It is beautiful, has cool inner pieces that are fun to put together, and it’s a reasonable price for Legos. Delightfully, it comes apart in the “stages” of the rocket from the actual mission, and the lunar lander fits inside. Around New Years I reenacted the whole mission for my kids, showing how the back parts of the rocket fell away once they used up their fuel. It’s striking to realize how only one little piece made it back to Earth. After a couple of weeks, I re-bagged the pieces so that I can put them together again in the future, probably on the landing anniversary every couple of years.
My kids also have a couple of smaller plastic toy models of the Saturn V they can play with, and as I write, two of them are building replicas of their own from legos.
• And finally, 30 Rock has a glorious episode where Liz Lemon copes with getting to middle age and realizing she hasn’t married an astronaut, as she always hoped. She finds out her mother had once dated Buzz Aldrin, so she seeks him out only to find him yelling insults at the moon. (You might preview it for content before showing kids.) It’s weird and hilarious and a lot of fun. After I showed the clip to my kids, it’s now commonplace for them to be riding in the car and holler, “Hey, Moon! What are you doing out in the daytime? I walked on your face!”