It’s Not Just a Toy. It’s a Teaching Moment


It’s a space race in our house. For the longest, the space shuttle “Roger”, from the Mater’s Tall Tales series, was the hands-down, numero uno, top dog toy in our house. Toddler slept with it, talked about it, demanded stories about it and showed it off to everyone within a satellite’s distance of our home.

Space shuttle “Roger” is more than a toy, though. He’s the gateway to a lifelong teaching moment.

We’ve used “Roger” to introduce toddler to a love affair with outer space, rockets and all things NASA. We watch videos of space shuttle launches, the international space station and moon landings. We read books about the solar system. We even pretend we’re in a rocket ship and discuss how we blast into orbit. For a science-challenged dad like me, it takes me out of my comfort zone but I’ve realized I don’t need to be Stephen Hawking. I just need to be invested in the moment. And be able to Google.

To prove his devotion, toddler even demanded a Space birthday party this year. Mission accomplished, mom and dad.

“Roger” has a new rival in the house. Toddler’s new suitor is a certain talking, rocking, suave, charming Space Ranger named Buzz Lightyear. Buzz burst onto the scene once toddler encountered him at a friend’s house. Days later, as a birthday gift, Buzz rocketed into our lives.

Toddler is now reminding us, as Buzz says, about the “meteor approaching Planet Delta” and tells us that he “comes in peace.”

My wife and I know that our 3-year-old’s passion about the planets and space travel may be fleeting or it may last a while. He may someday become the first person to set foot on Mars or he may never pick up these toys again. Either way, we’re doing what parents do — immersing ourselves in a new endeavor for the good of our kids, teaching them what we can and searching for ways to enhance their knowledge and ours.

It’s hard to believe that a small piece of talking plastic could stimulate a child’s imagination — opening doors to new horizons and heights that seem far out of reach. He is reaching for the stars and we’re right behind him, guiding him, encouraging him and ready to catch him if he falls. After witnessing it, it seems as easy as one small step for man…


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About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.


  1. Brad the Dad says:

    As a fan of space all my life and watching my sons share that passion for recent Space X launches to the Space Station, I can’t express to you enough how much this article makes me smile. I think their passion for space fed off of mine, whereas to your point, you are using a toy as the “vehicle” since you were never a space/science guy yourself. The point is, whatever it takes to get our kids into space or (insert creative passion that helps further our kids’ knowledge and ours) use it and run with it.

    Great stuff.

  2. Awesome. What is great is, when he retires Roger & Buzz, he will be on to the newest toy and newest adventures and newest lessons to learn. Have fun playing!

  3. happiestdaddy says:

    Thanks for the thoughts and encouragement, gents. This blog crystallized one of those thrilling parenting moments when you realize that you learn as much from your children as they do from you.

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