There's something magical about being able to stay up late at night when you're a kid. Being outside on a warm summer evening is one of those things that 'makes memories'!
And of course, the kids will notice the stars. Stargazing can be both a fun and educational activity. There are some fun activities you can enjoy with the kids to help them become more familiar with the nighttime sky.
Make Your Own Constellation
Before heading outside, spend a few mintues talking to the kids about the stars and constellations. Constellations are groups of stars that have been identified and named. There are some fun ones to find like the Big Dipper, Orion and Hercules!
You may want to explain that the night sky changes as the Earth rotates and tilts. So some of the constellations that you are able to see overhead at 9pm are different from those that can be viewed at 3 am.
We've used two methods for making our own constellations. The first is a popular one -- poking holes in a paper cup.
Choose a constellation that you are likely to see at night and draw it's outline on the bottom of a paper cup and then poke holes where each of the major stars would be located. Use these diagrams of the major constellations from the University of Potsdam to see where to poke your holes.
We chose to use Orion and the Little Dipper on our cups.
Once you have the holes punched in the cup, turn out the lights, place a flashlight into the cup and point it toward a blank wall. You should be able to see your constellation's major stars on the wall.
You can see above that we were able to see ursa minor (the Little Dipper) when we shined the flashlight through the cup and on the wall.
Another fun way to make your own constellations is to use glow-in-the-dark stars and a dark piece of paper.
This is my son's version of the Southern Cross constellation. Both of my kids really like to have these in their room. The stars absorb light during the day so when the kids go to bed, the constellations glow.
You can find glow-in-the-dark stars at many stores -- here's an example from Amazon if you want to learn more about them:
By creating hands-on constellations, the kids will be more likely to see the star patterns and then be able to locate the actual constellation during your nightime excursion!
And of course, we'd highly recommend a few great books to go along with your night sky observation! Note: the books are also affiliate links if you'd like to read their reviews.
Zoo in the Sky is a fun read because it focuses on the constellations that are named after animals. The paintings in the book are beautiful and there are some fun facts about each group of stars.
The Big Dipper is an easy Science Reader and one that introduces the concept of constellations in a way that kids will understand.
And one of our favorite non-fiction series -- There's No Place Like Space follows the Cat in the Hat as he tours the solar system. Kids will enjoy the information about stars, celestial bodies and planets in our solar system.
And for a real treat, take a trip to visit a local observatory or planetarium! Many observatories have public viewings when you and the kids can look through the huge telescopes to see different parts of the solar system. Planetariums are indoor observatories that have fun star shows that appear on the ceilings of the building.
Both are lots of fun and I would highly recommend adding it to your list of things to do this summer! Go Astronomy has a great list of observatories so you can find one near you and they also have a list of planetariums you can visit.
Share Your Ideas for Star & Moon Projects
We can't wait to see what amazing activities you share during this week's Discover & Explore Stars, Moon & the Nighttime Sky linky!
Make sure to visit our co-host Fantastic Fun & Learning to see what great nighttime sky activities they are sharing too!
May 8th - Flowers
May 15th - A Day at the Park
May 22nd - Art & Museum Fun
Please read the following guidelines for sharing:
- Share family-friendly posts related to the weekly topic -- kids activities, crafts, recipes, nature outings, printables, etc.
- By linking up, you are giving me permission to share your post including one photo in our weekly feature post and on social media channels.
- Visit 2-3 other posts that have linked up, find some new ideas & meet new friends!
- If you'd like, grab a button for your post -- we love to share and want to find lots of great activities to highlight for you!
The linky will be open for 2 weeks so feel free to come back and link up any new posts you do.
Each of the host blogs will be choosing a few great ideas to be featured in a round-up post and pinned the Discover & Explore Pinterest Board!