N’s always been interested in learning about the night sky, the moon and stars, and many a time we’ve stopped to look out of the window. We talk about the different stages of the moon especially, he’s a bit obsessed when it’s a crescent moon.
We’re lucky in that living in the middle of nowhere, we have a pitch black sky and the stars look amazing, but it’s really hard to see one constellation to point it out to N. Without having a telescope and keeping children up late at night, here’s some activities to help teach them about the moon and stars.
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Alternative ways to teach kids about the night sky
1, Constellation tubes
Previously we made star constellation tubes to help teach some of the shapes, but also isolate them from the huge number of stars we see in the sky. You can build up a collection or stick with the same ones until they can pick them out in the sky.
2, Use old fashioned glow in the dark stars
Stick them on walls or ceilings to create a night sky
N has some in his room, and if you buy some with a variety of sizes, you can make your own night sky placing them in shapes of constellations. Ours are just random at the moment (because the OH isn’t keen on things being stuck to walls, but you could have a whole nightscape going on.
3, Look at books
Our favourite book to look at constellations (and the phases of the moon) is a really old, massive atlas that was my dad’s years ago. It’s got a double page spread of the night sky and it’s easy to see the different constellations. But we also have a variety of other books which explain space, earth and the weather, all of which can tie into learning about moon and stars.
Here’s a book we like
Shine the Light On the Space Station – our review
4, Create the phases of the moon
I always think about the jaffa cake advert when I think about the moon….full moon, half moon, solar eclipse…tell me it’s not just me?!
You can do a standard size picture by using paper or card, or go supersized and use paper plates for the moon. The latter saves cutting the circular shape out first.
- Take a black or dark blue piece of paper for the sky
- Take a number of plates (or cut out circles of white card/paper)
- Cut the plates to shape:
- Leave 1 whole = full moon
- Cut one plate in half = last quarter (also known as half moon)
- Cut one plate into a ‘banana’ or crescent shape and save the other size of it = waxing or waning crescent moon
- The remaining piece of plate = waxing or waning gibbous moon
- If you want to make the full set of phases, then repeat the crescent moon again – then have a waxing and waning version of those 4 pieces.
- Stick the moons onto your sky. You could even draw the craters, or have a blood or supermoon as well.
To explain the phases of the moon, it all depends on the angle at which we can see the moon from our position on earth. The angle changes as the moon orbits the earth. We get day and night depending on whether our side of the earth is facing the moon or not.
5, Act out the earth’s orbit
Maybe one for older children, but N is always saying that the moon is going to bed when it’s day time and the sun then gets up. Trying to explain that the moon belongs to earth, and the earth orbits the sun doesn’t necessarily make sense without seeing it visually. A fun way to show how it happens is to have children dressing up and pretending to be the earth, moon and sun.
The sun stands still.
The earth spins round, but at the same time orbits the sun (taking 365 days)
The moon goes round the earth (taking around 28 days)
The alternative is to use different sized balls – why not make your own papier mache solar system to hang up?)
For some other star and moon ideas check out the below:
What other ways have you used to teach children about the night sky?
OH B would love these he is obsessed with the night sky and stars and learning about it all. Lovely. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me and the continual support. #sharewithme
It’s fab when they get really interested in something. Hopefully it might help bring it to life.
I didn’t know they were known as waning and waxing crescents. Learn something new every day! Zs really got into watching the stars ever since someone came to school with a mini star dome and taught them all about the bear in the sky.
The Great Bear’s the only one that N remembers – and that’s mostly because it’s mentioned on Peter Rabbit!
some lovely ideas Emma, I love the constellation tubes, we have the same night sky here, this would be a fun one to do in winter with the children staying for activity hour. #SharewithMe
My step son loves learning and the tubes look like a lot of fun to make! We may have a go over Easter!
Glad you’ve got some inspiration. They’re fun to do even if they don’t take in the actual constellations
These are all lovely! Belle is 13 now but she is still really interested. She has this light thing that projects the night sky onto her bedroom ceiling and plays a commentary. She knows more than I do!
Now that sounds cool. N was given a cheapo projector light thing but he was only 3 and was a bit scared of it (weird child). Reckon I might have to dig it out.
I had glow in the dark stars and moons on my ceiling and I used to love staring at them until I fell asleep, im not usre they were ever placed to replacte space though sadly x
Lovely post. I am going to implement these tips.
We use the apps on the phone my sons are obsessed, its great to see them learning though, they constantly point out orions belt etc in the sky at night x
oh some great ideas here to try out with my own kids
Such a wonderful idea and a great way to get kids interested in this kind of stuff 🙂 xx
I used to be obsessed with space when I was younger, so I wish someone had suggested these to me or my parents! It must be so lovely to live somewhere where you can see and enjoy the night sky 🙂
I am officially full of envy for you. We live in a place with mass light pollution. A long exposure photo of the night sky just reveals loads of orange street light. You’re quite right to take full advantage of the dark night skies – I certainly would 🙂
These are such lovely ideas and great for getting kids interested in the world around them. My little boy is just 3 but he’s begun talking to me about the moon, stars and planets and how rockets blast off to space, I have no idea where he learnt it all from either!
I really like these suggestions. I think my children would enjoy all of these ways of learning. I love glow in the dark stars so this will be something we try
I love how fully immersed you are in this! I used to be infatuated with the moon, stars and space as a kid. Always had my head in a book about black holes or something.
This post is very informative! Never heard of waning gibbous moon before …Thank you 🙂
Glad it was useful. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
What fabulous ideas! My kids are too old now but I’m sure they would have loved these activities:-)
Thanks Camilla. They’re a bit of fun, and hopefully will help the information sink in
AHH! I had the glow in the dark stars on my ceiling, right from a young age up to my teens! Lovely idea.
I never did this as a child but what a creative way to do it! I will be using thus with my niece! I
These are such cute ideas, but nothing beats teaching about the sky with the aid of Jaffa Cakes or digestive biscuits – lovely post! <3
Ha ha, thinking of the moon, that’s always what I think of too. Thanks for commenting.