Going to Space

A typewriter and my crossed legs. On the typewriter are very small words. It reads, “Status report: the video game computer malfunctioned. He has landed. He passed the asteroid field. Alien life form detected. The alien is transforming. Photo loading… Scientists to analyze… Oxygen support status: broken. Repaired! Light speed in 3…2…1…”
A setup inside a tent with a cardboard box with drawings all over it, an iPad screen with five buttons on it, a cardboard “keyboard”, and a small flat cardboard box that has a pretend screen drawn on it.

This was from a session in which a child and I were pretending that he was exploring space. We built a space pod out of tents and filled it with cardboard box “panels” on which I drew various buttons. I made sure to make some of the buttons interesting and write various labels on them, and I also made just as sure to leave some of the buttons blank and leave a Sharpie lying in the tent next to them. I pulled up a screen on my iPad that had some buttons that would make “boing” noises when you tapped them. He gravitated toward the “boing” buttons first because those were interesting and presented on an iPad screen…but after a couple of moments, “boing” was no longer interesting and he turned to the written buttons on the cardboard box. He quickly realized the potential in the drawn buttons instead of the digital buttons, and he quickly started using the Sharpie to draw his own buttons while he dictated to me what he was imagining happening, and I replied in the voice of “Mission Control” with a hand cupped over my mouth to make my voice sound deeper and cooler.

While he explained to me what pretend things were happening, I typed a few of them — probably every 5th sentence or so — on my old typewriter, sitting criss-cross on the floor next to the child’s tent. As I did so, I dictated aloud, sort of quietly to myself but at conversational volume — but in a different voice than my “Mission Control” voice, so that it was clear I was dictating what I was writing.

At the end of the session the child asked me if he could have the paper. I took it out of the typewriter and asked him if he wanted me to read it back to him (knowing that he isn’t able to read it yet). He said that he did, and I read it to him while he glowed about how cool of a story we had created together.

I added in my Mission Control voice, “The President wants to thank you for your heroic mission,” and grabbed a pencil and wrote (and dictated) “Thank you for your heroic mission, signed, The President” on the bottom of it.

He studied the signature proudly for a moment and then said, “Also, they need to pay me one thousand dollars.”

We paid him one thousand dollars. Then we realized that an alien slug had attached on the outside of his spacecraft and gotten back onto earth and it was now roaming the land killing everybody with its incredibly powerful stinkiness.

We tabled solving the stinky alien slug problem for next time though. 🙂