3 ways to teach your kids about astronomy

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine

Warm summer nights are a great time to get your kids interested in the universe around them. Astronomy is defined as the science which deals with celestial objects, space and the physical universe as a whole.

For millions of years, humans have look toward the night sky to try and understand and predict what has happening around them.

When it comes to teaching astronomy for kids, let them take the lead, says Telescope.com. Listen carefully to their questions and take it from there. Here are a few tips to help you help them establish a new and fun hobby.

1. Establish basic understanding: Children in preschool or kindergarten will benefit from informal discussions about how the night sky is different compared to the day sky. This will help encourage their interest in astronomy. Ask your child questions about what they see in the sky during the day as opposed to night. As a fun and educational activity, fold a piece of paper in half and ask your child to draw the day sky on one side and the night sky on the other side. Alternatively, you might use a black sheet of construction paper for the night sky and a blue piece for the day sky to help get the intended lesson across more easily. Some things to include in the discussion might be the Sun, clouds, stars, the phases of the Moon or planets. Let your child’s curiosities determine which direction to go.

2. Dig deeper: As kids get a little older and start to understand the basics of the night sky, they will undoubtedly want to dig deeper and explore more. Introduce your kids to the constellations by stargazing on clear nights and picking out some of the more common constellations. Bring a sketchbook and pencils or crayons along so kids can sketch the constellations and later compare them to a real picture. You could even use black construction paper and foil star stickers to create constellations, drawing the lines between stars with a white crayon. Get a book on constellations to teach your kids about the unique stories behind each star formation. Use the Internet together with your child to research particular astronomy topics.

3. Explore the solar system: One of the most exciting concepts in astronomy for kids is the idea that the Solar System includes other planets. Talk about the names, characteristics and facts such as the distance from the Sun of each planet with your child or grandchild. As you learn together about what the climate of each planet is like, role play with the children by asking them to pretend to live on that planet. What would they wear? What would they eat? What would their house look like based on the natural resources available? Comparing and contrasting ideas help children form deeper understandings. Ask your kids to compare each planet to Earth and discuss the similarities or differences.