When teaching children about the fundamentals of astronomy, it’s often easiest to use images, games or projects. Here are a few fun projects that you can use to teach children about the wonders of the universe!
Elementary School Level
Paper Sun – gather up some yellow and orange construction paper, paper plates, safety scissors, glue, and crayons. The paper plates can be used as the base of the sun, children can either color them or glue construction paper on them for the right color. With the leftover construction paper, children can actually trace their hands and cut them out to paste on as the sun’s rays.
Glitter Stars – use black paper, glue and glitter to make stars or even a galaxy by spreading the glue on the black paper in different spiral patterns and then pouring the glitter over the glue patterns.
Making Craters – fill a large sturdy bin with dirt and have your child throw a tennis ball into the bin. This activity will display a meteorite and the craters that they make when they hit the Earth’s ground.
Middle School Level
Make Your Own Comet – instruct your children to use objects such as tennis balls, golf balls, clay, tissue paper, markers, etc., to make their own comet.
Build A Solar System – instruct your children to use objects such as Styrofoam balls, rings, toothpicks, paint, wooden crafting dowel rods, and glue to construct the solar system. Prompt them that in order to be 100 percent correct, they need to match the locations, colors and sizes of each planet. Encourage them to add character and any other celestial objects into their project.
Classroom Solar System – remove or move the desks out of your classroom or living room (if possible) to make it as open space as you can. Place a large yellow ball in the center of the room. Prompt your children to use balloons, balls, Styrofoam, and any other items to turn your room into a planetarium setting. Don’t forget to be creative and go beyond just the planets. Incorporating asteroids, meteors, comets, and stars will help in the teaching process.
Build a Space Telescope – using Styrofoam cylinders or cups and cardboard, direct your children to build a Hubble Space Telescope replica and explain why they built it the way they did and describe its important features.
Observe the Stars – instruct your children to go outside on a clear night (with an adult) and look up at the sky in one direction. Ask them to sketch the clusters of stars that they see and if they can label which ones in their drawing is the brightest. If they see an image in their group of stars, ask them to write it down. The next day in class reveal a full skyline image of the constellations and see if they can recognize the constellation they saw or if it is a famous one!