Reach for the Stars! Exploring the Night Skies with Kids

Reach for the Stars! Exploring the Night Skies with Kids

One of the best things about being outside after dark is looking up and seeing the stars. There is a virtual storybook in the sky for anyone who is interested enough and will take the time to explore the constellations and what they mean. It is a great way to spend bonding time with your children as well. Teaching them the constellations also gives them an insight into history for those who know the stories about how the stars were used to help navigate the seas.

Read the Stories Behind the Stars

If you are going to help your children learn about the constellations that make up the designs in the night sky, find a book that tells the stories behind each one. Many are grounded in Greek mythology while others find their roots in astrology. The majority of stars within constellations are also named. As you tell the stories behind the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, Orion’s Belt and Aquarius, you can also let it be known how each was used by sailors to help navigate the largest of the seas.

Use a Map of the Galaxy to Find Your Way

There are several maps of the night skies that show how stars were basically used as a road map. Because of how the earth moves through the galaxy, constellations were used to not only navigate the seas but also to help travelers on land find their way to each respective destination. In some cases, it wasn’t so much the constellations that helped them achieve their goals but single stars that followed a specific path across the night sky.

Recreate the Constellations

Once the stories have been told and the constellations identified, recreating them can be a fun way to make the information real. Three-dimensional models can be easily made to help the kids retain the information they have learned. Using black or dark blue construction paper, draw a constellation on one side. For each star, make a hole in the paper. Smaller stars need smaller holes while larger stores should be somewhat larger than the others. When it’s finished, hold the paper up to a window or light, and let the light shine through, recreating the constellation on paper.

Another way to make a model is using small dowel rods and various sizes of marshmallows. Smaller marshmallows are used for the smallest stars, and the larger stars are represented by the biggest marshmallows. The dowel rods should be cut in different sizes according to the distances between the stars. Once the model is put together, it will show children just how wide-reaching many of the constellations are.

Whether you use a telescope or just lean back and gaze upwards, the stars can provide hours of enjoyment for both you and your child. Providing your children with the history of each constellation allows them to see them from a different perspective. They aren’t just stars anymore. Each has a story and a purpose that makes them more interesting than ever before.