Brought to you by the Moon, Rocks in the Sky, Star Gazing, and Paper Folding
As the seasons change, now is a great time of the year to get a blanket, hot chocolate, binoculars or a telescope, and do some sky watching. The clearer the sky, the easier it will be to see the moon, stars, planets, comets and satellites.
Find a nice dark spot away from street and porch lights.
Take a few minutes for your eyes to get used to the dark.
You may be able to see many objects in the sky even with your naked eyes.
With a preschool child, the easiest object in the sky to identify is the moon. You can best show this during a full moon. In fact, this a great way to show the changes of the moon by charting its shape every night for a month. Draw a picture each night of the moon to show its changes. A low powered telescope can easily show the craters in the moon.
Stars can be identified easily because they twinkle, like the song
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"-
Our sun is a star. Young stars are called blue giants. They are so big that they don't last
very long. Older stars are called red dwarfs. They are the longest lasting stars.
Our sun is a star called a yellow dwarf. It means our sun is still "alive" and producing
energy. It should be around for at least 5 or 6 billion more years.
Planets are bright, but they don't twinkle. Some appear quite large in the evening sky
because they are so bright. It's great to compare and contrast other planets to Earth.
Our sister planet is Venus because it is almost the same size and is made of rocky
material. Mars is smaller that earth, but may have polar ice caps like Earth.
Mercury is closest to the sun. Venus is the hottest planet. Earth is the only planet
with life because of its oxygen atmosphere and liquid water. Jupiter is a
gaseous planet, there may only be a small amount of rock in the center. Pluto is
the farthest away from the sun and is the smallest planet.
My favorite objects to look for are satellites.
They are bright and move quite quickly. Some twinkle like stars and some don't like planets.
Keep a close eye on them because they will cross the sky in a matter of a few minutes.
They are easiest to find in the early evening.
Here are some objects to find in the evening sky:
The Big Dipper is easy to find because it is shaped like a big dipper.
The first planet to show in the evening sky, is Venus.
Jupiter is the biggest planet and is often one of the brightest.
A shooting star is a meteor.
Simple Facts about Our Solar System.
1. Our sun is a star.
2. We live on Earth, which is a planet.
3. The planets circle the sun.
4. The moon circles the earth.
5. The earth spins like a top.
6. It takes the earth one year to rotate around the sun.
7. Earth is the only planet with life in our Solar System.
8. Our galaxy is called the Milky Way.
9. The sun is always shining. The spinning of the earth causes day and night.
10. Sometimes meteors hit the earth. They are rocks that hit the earth from space.
Here are some more links for your Sky Watching-
This site helps locate the local sky shows via your own backyard
You can find constellation maps from around the world-just find the city closest to you
This Star gazing link has great charts, weather, and even an email address to ask questions.
Constellations-This site has the basic star charts.
Discovery School has tips on "How to See the Sky" and Sky Event Schedule.
Dot to Dot Constellations
Star Child has a great introduction to the solar system, the universe, black holes,
at various levels
Space Games-My kids used to play Space Hop all the time. It was a great way to study and learn about the solar system.
These games are fun for the whole family. Younger players can be your partner. Let them move the skittle or roll the dice and count with you.
Here are some more space games you can make.
Astronomy is a great life long hobby. It's awesome to see the universe from our back door.
Children have great eye sight so they are especially good at spotting celestial bodies in the dark.
You can see even more objects in the sky if you use a good pair of binoculars or a
low powered telescope. The higher power telescopes are difficult to calibrate
and the objects look blurry. Also, the high power ones have a very narrow
field of viewing.
Solar System model
You can make your own solar system with nuts, balls, and pinheads. This is a great activity for the size and distance of planets.
Space Rocks Snack
This a great cereal treat to eat while watching the night sky-
Here's how to make it:
Let your child measure out different size cereals with a measuring cup into a
bowl and gently mix. You can add different ingredients, such as nuts, raisins and chocolate chips.
Paper folding Paper 101
Folding paper is so much fun. It helps with perception and small motor skills.
It is also a hands on geometry experience.
Here are some easy ideas.
Paper-about 8 x 10 inches
Tape, glue, or staples
Easy Method: Fold paper in half towards you.
You can visually match the edges, hold down the front edges with one hand
and with your other hand, gently push towards the end of the paper,
and lightly push down the fold.
With your thumbnail, make a crease on the paper.
Open it up, and you have a folded piece of paper.
Advanced paper folding-
1. Fold a piece a paper in the same manner, only fold away from you.
2. Fold the paper into fourths-fold the paper in half and fold in half again.
3. Fold triangles at each corner of paper.
4. Make a cone. Use a square piece of paper cut at the diagonal.
Roll into a cone. Secure by taping.
5. Fold a fan. Use the long side of paper and fold about a 2 inch strip.
Turn the paper, and fold over the strip.
Continue turning the paper and folding the fan strip until you run out of paper.
Trim the left over fan fold if it is too wide.
Pinch one side together and clip, staple, paste or tape together.
You can decorate the fan with markers, stickers or stamps.
Advanced fan-use oval paper, square piece of paper, make smaller fan folds
This site shows step by step how to make a basic airplane and also has great links.
Here are some astronomy images and references .
Nine/Eight Planets has lots of links and images, it's a great site.