Exploring outer space and alien worlds with Cosmic Surfer

Help children learn as they play by sharing a story and building on it with a fun activity

Meet Cosmic Surfer, a super-stylish spacecraft designed and built by graphic artist Daniel Weatheritt. Cosmic Surfer is the star of Daniel's latest junk modelling project for children – there’s  a link for downloading instructions on how to make it later in this blog, if you’d like to have a go! 

Daniel is a graphic artist who enjoys building beautiful and surprising objects from the most ordinary things, and his studio is a treasure-trove of mechanical oddments and found objects just waiting to be re-purposed. 

For this project, Daniel used readily-available household materials including juice cartons and eggboxes together with basic crafting materials like paint and glue, and his detailed step-by-step instructions (see link below) make it easy for you to construct your own models and share some imaginary space-themed fun. 

And once you've built your Cosmic Surfer, why not send us a photo or tell us about your adventures in Outer Space? We'd love to hear from you! 

You can contact us at Cast of Thousands HERE
The Cosmic Surfer resource pack is free to download and includes games and learning activities, plus a great selection of books to help you make the most of your modelmaking adventures - click here to download your free Cosmic Surfer pdf resource pack You can also view the resource pack and modelmaking instructions by clicking on Creative Workshops at danielweatheritt.com HERE


Dip into our super-special space-themed book collection


Here Come the Aliens by Colin McNaughton, published by Walker Books       

Suggested age range 4-9 years 

Watch out - a fleet of UFOs piloted by the grisliest, most wildly-tentacled aliens you’ve ever seen is heading straight for Planet Earth! Their Admiral is planning an invasion – until he sees something REALLY scary. Who’d have thought a school photo could save the world? 

This rhyming poem is illustrated in bold, humorous style and makes a great read-aloud. 

Which alien is the funniest? The scariest? Give them names. Where have they come from?

What happens when your Cosmic Surfer meets this fearsome fleet? Tell the story! 

 

Look Up! by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeola, published by Puffin 


Suggested age range 4-7 years 

The Phoenix Meteor Shower gives Rocket an opportunity to share her knowledge with neighbours in the local park. Big brother Jamal is told to mind her, but he isn’t keen. What will Rocket do if the meteors don’t appear? And will Jamal stop looking at his phone for long enough to see the wonders up above? 

Strong characterisation and bags of energy drive this entertaining story, with ‘added facts’ from the irrepressible Rocket throughout. 

Be an astronomer like Rocket and observe the night sky.

Which stars has you’re your Cosmic Surfer visited? Draw a map and label it. 

 

Franky by Leo Timmers, published by Gecko Press
Suggested age range 
4-7 years 

Sam’s Mum and Dad laugh when he tells them about the robot planet, so he builds Franky to help him prepare for a visit from the robot spaceship.  

Stylish artwork, minimal text and lots of intriguing details encourage observation and imaginative thinking in this appealing picturebook. 

Design and build your own junk robot, Franky-style.  

Draw a picture of Sam and Franky welcoming your Cosmic Surfer and its crew. Add speech bubbles. What happens next? 

 

Toys in Space by Mini Grey, published by Random House          
Suggested age range 4-9 years

When the toys are left outside all night, Wonderdoll keeps their spirits up by telling them a tale. But was their adventure in the spaceship just a story? Or did they really meet an alien? 

Humour and emotional depth extend the age appeal of this graphic novel-style picturebook, and there are plenty of details to explore.

Which toys will you beam up into your Cosmic Surfer? What will happen once they’re on board? Draw and write their story. 

Check out lots more great ideas in our Meet the Books feature HERE

 

Field Trip to the Moon by Jeanne Willis and John Hare, published by Macmillan 


Suggested age range 
5-9 

An exciting school trip turns into a rescue mission when one child wanders off. The Moon-creatures are very pleased, though, because crayons are involved. And no-one can resist the chance to decorate a rock!  

Fun to share and bursting with curiosity and kindness, this book makes a great starting point for discussion and activities.

Make your own Moon aliens from plasticine or clay. 

Draw pictures on stones and leave them where aliens might find them! 


 

How to Be on the Moon by Viviane Schwarz, published by Walker Books  
Suggested age range 
4-7

Anna wants to fly a rocket to the Moon. This, as her friend Crocodile observes, will be almost impossible. But with Anna’s energy and optimism, and Crocodile’s common sense and kindness, the friends discover that they have all the necessary skills.  

Funny and uplifting, this beautifully written book has illustrations that fire the imagination and touch the heart.  

Build a rocket from the biggest cardboard box you can find. Where will it take you? Don’t forget to pack your sandwiches! 

 

Lights on Cotton Rock by David Litchfield, published by Frances Lincoln
Suggested age range 
5-10

Deep in the forest, Heather encounters a friendly alien. But their time together is limited, and no amount of signalling will bring the flying saucer back - until Heather, now a grandmother, rediscovers the friendship and is faced with a tough decision. 

This bittersweet story is told in pictures with a strong supporting text and will engage older as well as younger readers. 

How would you communicate with aliens? Draw a picture that tells your visitors what they need to know. 

Wrap your Cosmic Surfer in fairylights to create an awesome night-time display!  

 

Space Kids: An Introduction for Young Explorers by Andrea de Santis and Steve Parker, published by Little Gestalten  
Suggested age range 
5-9 years

This non-fiction book introduces concepts using a conversational ‘first-person’ voice, backed up with manageable chunks of text that take a more conventional approach. Topics include galaxies, the Moon, alien life and rockets, and the subtle palette and mid-century styling ensure wide age-appeal. 

What have you learned from this book? What could you share? 

Record yourself presenting a podcast about Space. 

Click HERE to download your free Cosmic Surfer pdf resource pack

Six ways to extend the fun and learning with our Cosmic Surfer-inspired activities 

Make a Cosmic Surfer playden 

Create a playspace (under a table, behind a sofa...) and furnish with the equipment you need to pilot your Cosmic Surfer: a captain’s chair, a command deck made from a cardboard box, levers to operate your engines, a viewing screen….  

Enlist your toys as crew. What will happen as you surf through space? When you’ve finished, snuggle up on cushions and read space-stories to your toys! 

 

Explore the universe with Cosmic Surfer 

Observe the night sky and learn about stars and constellations. Draw maps to record your Cosmic Surfer missions and add notes explaining where you went and what happened.  

Look at photos of distant galaxies and planets, nebulae and comets. Mix watercolours, oil pastels, chalks and other media to explore interstellar art effects, then use to create a space mobile. Fly Cosmic Surfer through your mobile and imagine you’re on a mission! 

 

Get moving with your Cosmic Surfer 

Move as though you’re weightless like an astronaut. Then match your movements to some starry music to create a cosmic dance. 

Use a marker to draw your Cosmic Surfer on a Frisbee. How far will it fly? Chase it! 

Draw planets grid-style on a flooring offcut or large piece of card - scaled so kids can stand on one planet and reach the others if they stretch! Colour and use as a PE challenge – can you stand on a green planet and touch a blue one with your left hand? Or label with exciting space-words, and use in a Cosmic Surfer-inspired story as you jump from one planet to the next...    

 

Let Cosmic Surfer introduce you to some aliens 

What kind of aliens will your Cosmic Surfer encounter on its next mission? Draw your ideas, then model your favourite using plasticine or craft materials. How does your alien move? Talk? Behave? Can you dress up like your alien? 

What happens when Cosmic Surfer makes contact with your alien? Pretend you’re a journalist and present a news report. 

 

Direct a Cosmic Surfer photoshoot  

Transform a cardboard box into an Outer Space diorama, using paint, foil and other materials to create an interstellar or alien world backdrop. Hang your Cosmic Surfer from the top of your box using dark thread (or place it on the base) and take photos. Use a table lamp or torch to create exciting effects! 

Direct your own Cosmic Surfer photoshoot... photograph by Daniel Weatheritt for the Cosmic Surfer activity pack 



Become a Cosmic Surfer engineer 

Draw a labelled diagram of your Cosmic Surfer. Invent some extra features – telescopes? shuttle pods?- and add them to your diagram. How is your Surfer powered and maintained? Write and illustrate a technical manual for your crew. 

Click HERE to download your free Cosmic Surfer pdf resource pack


Support Cast of Thousands by buying online from our bookshop at uk.bookshop.org

You'll find these titles on our Exploring Outer Space with the Cosmic Surfer booklist - to view it click HERE

Cast of Thousands receives a small commission on every purchase from our Bookshop UK online shop, helping us stay independent and freely accessible for everyone. Thank you for your support! 

 

Resources

Find out more about Daniel Weatheritt via his website HERE and instagram HERE

Copyright: Cast of Thousands 2021 All rights reserved.
This article/information may be printed freely for use in schools and other learning settings but may not be reproduced in any other format without the permission of Cast of Thousands

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