Monday, May 20, 2013

Exploring Space: Day 5

Groups of stars seen together are called constellations.

Today's lesson went a bit differently from the book's plan. I do not have any books specifically on constellations or the history of naming constellations. Evan Moor's Exploring Space had worksheets/printables that required that background information, especially about the Big Dipper. So I thought a bit, Googled a bit, and came up with what we did today.

I started with reviewing Psalm 148:3 and the song we learned on Day 4. Builder Boy really loved learning about the layers of the Earth, so I showed him a picture of the layers of a star that I found in a Children's Encyclopedia. I'm not expecting him to memorize the layers like he did the layers of the Earth, but it was "cool" to him, and it also showed sun spots and flares/a prominence.

Then I re-read the two page section in Seeing Stars about constellations. We talked a bit about who named them and why. We used the Exploring Space pages on six constellations and matched the picture to the star configuration, after first just showing them the stars and having them guess why they looked like their name. Builder Boy was very good at picking out the patterns.

Then we moved on to some pages I found online. First I gave some connect the dots constellations to the boys for them to do. I gave Early Bird some basic shape dot-to-dots that I found at the Flutterbud Club (never heard of it before, I ran across it in the Google image search.) Builder Boy got the Connect the Constellations from Then I gave them each a copy of Make Your Own Constellation found at the blog Early Childhood Science Activities. It has a field of stars and lets kids connect them however they want and encourages them to come up with names and even stories for their constellations. Early Bird connected every single star and named it "Giddy, the Giant Dog." Builder Boy made "The Cup" and "The Chair." The picture link on the site is broken, so I am including the image I saved from Google images, but the quality is poor and unreadable when printed at full page size. We finished off with a worksheet I found at Preschool Printables that has kids try to copy some star configurations from an example. They also have cool Constellation Discovery Map and Certificate that I didn't notice until after we were done for the day, and probably makes a better replacement for the Make Your Own Constellation page that we used, if you have a color printer.

Being in the play room with the kids books reminded me of a story in The Children's Book of Virtues, The Legend of the Dipper. I had to keep telling Builder Boy that this was a pretend story, as he kept getting hung up on the dipper changing materials throughout the story. But at least it was an example of the old stories people made up about constellations.

Once we were done with that we went back to the book and made their Star Box with an old tissue box. I made the piece of paper for the constellations a bit too big, and the holes were kind of wonky, so it wasn't exactly a planetarium show. But the kids didn't seem to notice that it wasn't perfect. Builder Boy wanted to make one of the constellations, and he chose Orion, which I thought would be do hard for him, but he actually did a really good and accurate job! He used a white crayon on black construction paper and I popped the holes for him. My camera wouldn't pick up the lights on the wall, so I took a picture of the card on the star projector.

Tonight we'll do the last activity and go outside and see if we can find the Big Dipper. Thankfully the book provides examples of how it can look at different seasons, since apparently it turns around and over throughout the year (I learned something, too!)

Yesterday while unpacking a random box we found our wall stickers that the boys love so much. Yesterday Builder Boy put up the Outer Space Peel & Stick Wall Decals above his bunk bed. Probably not tonight, but tomorrow we will put up the Celestial Glow in the Dark Peel & Stick Wall Decals that we got for his birthday. (I posted about them with pictures previously here and here.) Now that we've learned about constellations we'll probably be more inventive with putting them up. And as before, we'll use the constellation chart to put some authentic ones up.

Here are some cool things to do with constellations that I found on Pinterest, but didn't end up doing.

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