We all become children when looking up in awe at the star-filled night sky. It helps us gain perspective and it fills us with wonder. If you have children, the night sky is a wonderful thing to study and share with your kids. As almost all children are intrigued with the moon, stars, clouds and other aspects of the night sky, you’ll have a captive audience from the start. Below are a few ways to teach kids about the night sky.
* Show them the universe
Sometimes you want to start out small, but in this case, show them the universe. Pick a cloudless night and peaceful location, and first expose your kids to the sky. Point out that there are stars and the moon. For younger kids, you want to start with the basics. Let them look up and point with you and sort of take in the night sky. Now that there interest is peaked, you can start breaking this up into more manageable pieces of information.
* The stars
Next, teach the kids about one of the major elements of the night sky: the stars. Show them a simple drawing of a five-point star and encourage them to draw some of their own. Then use a simple resource guide targeting children of the age of your little ones to go over the basics on stars and various configurations. You can then show your kids various online games and tools that are great for helping them better understand. These can be found on websites such as Kids Astronomy. This site is full of resources to help children learn more about the stars, the planets and the night sky.
* The moon
Kids are exposed to myths about the moon from an early age. Now you can help them separate fact from fiction. Show your children pictures of various phases of the moon. Depending on age, you can show them a documentary on the actual moon landing in July 1969. Encourage the kids to draw the moon and ask questions. This will help them better take in the information you are teaching them about this solar entity.
Plan a fun field trip with your children by taking them to the local planetarium. They may be too young to take in all the information made available at a planetarium. However, they will be able to grasp some of the information, and as the parent, you can continue to learn and gain access to books and resources that will improve your ability to be their guide. The planetarium is a great experience for kids and adults, and something you can enjoy once a year or so.
* Spend time under the stars
Finally, kids learn from repetition and exposure. Spend some time each month under the stars so you can continue the conversation with your children. Key events such as eclipses are special times for bonding and furthering the learning. A shared interest in the night sky is something you can enjoy with your children, and a tradition they can then pass on to your grandchildren