Not too long ago there were seven (7!) new Earth-sized planets discovered! They orbit around their own ‘sun’ but don’t appear to have any moons. Of course, at a distance of approximately 40 light years away, these planets probably aren’t going to be visited by humans any time soon. Recall 1 light year is a shy 6 trillion miles. That would put these planets 6,000,000,000,000 miles! But we can use this discovery to spark an interest in our NIGHT SKY!
Over the Moon About Books…
There are some fantastic books with a Moon-theme ranging from fantasy to folklore, cultural to scientific. Moon-themed classics like Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and, from another classic children’s author, Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen.
Other Moon books I’d consider include Man on the Moon by Simon Bartram as well as The Moon Lady by Amy Tan. After reading the previously mentioned books to your kidlet, I think you both will be ready for the Night Sky activity!
READ: Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle, another classic children’s author. In this story the different phases of the moon are prominently featured. The moon and its phases are what the following activity will highlight.
Enrich the Learning: The Night Sky…
A month-long activity, this NIGHT SKY activity, will track how many nights the moon is visible and reveal its phases.
Night Sky month chart–add dates
Scissors ( a parent or other adult can cut out moon and/or cloud squares)
Glue or paste
• Take your child(ren) out and look up at the night sky for the moon Can they see it?
• Let your kidlet draw what they see for that date in the square OR
• Have your kiddo shade in one of the ‘moons’, darkening the area that wasn’t shining and then gluing or pasting it onto the chart of the square for that correct day/date
As the month progresses…
• Point out the changes their chart is revealing
• Share the terminology for the different phases of the moon. Is it a waxing moon or a waning moon; a quarter moon or full moon?
• Hopefully they’ll be able to see all phases of the moon; the apparent growing of a waxing moon and the shrinking of a waning moon
Remember—accept all answers!!
• You might also want to note if you see any falling stars, meteors, and/or planets* on the chart!
• Also, with our typically wet, PNW weather, some nights the moon could be hidden behind clouds. IF the moon is hidden behind clouds give your kiddo the choice to leave the chart space blank or they can feel free to add clouds!
Moon-themed Nursery Rhymes to share…
The Man in the Moon:
At the end of the month:
Tally how many days in the month the moon was visible. Count how many days the moon was hidden by clouds. Compare which amount was greater? Which amount was less? Did there happen to have equal numbers? Count up how many days there was a crescent moon, a half-moon (a quarter phase), a full moon and new moon.
*How to tell a star vs planet: One of the easiest ways to distinguish between stars and planets in the Night Sky is by looking to see if the object twinkles or shimmer. Planets do not twinkle; their brightness remains constant. Stars shimmer or twinkle, hence the nursery rhyme “Twinkle, twinkle little star.”
I might should use Casey Kasem’s sign off from America’s Top 40: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” But instead I’ll use my own….
Yours in Play!
ChristinaMarie Kimball says
I love the variety of ideas and activities around this topic to help families with kids of different ages all have meaningful interaction around a topic.
Karen Whittier says
Thank you Christina Marie–I appreciate your comment! The moon is fascinating to children (of all ages!)–it easily captures their imagination! With this Night Sky activity I wanted to bring the moon down to Earth, so to speak, hopefully, as you said, with a meaningful, interactive project.