Collecting free constellation activities for kids is a great way to make sure that you have resources on hands for those nights that are cloudless and crystal clear. Whether you want to do something with your own child or you're looking for something to do in the classroom, studying the constellations provides a fascinating look into how the earth works. Aside from going to the planetarium (which isn't necessarily free), there are a variety of free constellation activities for kids to explore and enjoy as they learn about the sky.
Introducing Kids to Constellation Studies
The best way to present a collection of constellation activities, is to simply encourage (or assign if need be) kids to take a look outside each night. For the best observations, children should go outside every night at the same time. This allows them to observe the constellations "moving" across the sky as the earth turns.
Teaching Kids What to Look For
But how do you help kids learn to decipher the constellations and truly watch them as opposed to just staring up at a jumble of stars? Use a map of the sky to help you find your way around the celestial brightness.
Create Your Own Constellation
There is nothing like gazing up at the sky looking at the constellations to capture a child's attention. An enjoyable indoor activity for kids is to create a stargazer. You can find all of the items you need to create this project right in your home. All you need is a paper towel roll, scissors, pin, pencil, black paper and tape or a rubber band.
Constellations and Mythology
Many constellations are based on mythology, and combining a brief study of mythology as it pertains to the constellations is a great way to help kids remember what they are looking at. For example, the stories of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (commonly known as the big dipper and the little dipper) are about the wood nymph Callisto and her son Arcas. Associating stories with the various shapes of the constellations helps kids remember what and even where they are in the sky. While teaching on constellations you may want to look for the book, A Constellation Album-Stars and Mythology of the Night Sky. Not only does the book go into the mythology behind the stars, but it also provides a visual so kids can see what they are looking for.
Resources for Free Constellation Activities for Kids
There are many resources online that provide free constellation activities for kids.
Astronomy for Kids
Astronomy for Kids is a kid friendly site that offers sky maps and a picture of the current night sky (for those that live in the Northern hemisphere), but also a constellation hunt game that kids can play online. Use this game to practice before going outside to observe the real thing!
The Arctic Library at Arthropolis offers a simple list of constellations. Of course, being a site dedicated to the Arctic circle, there are all sorts of other goodies on this site for astronomy lovers including some pictures and explanations of phenomena like the aurora borealis.
NASA of course has just about everything pertaining to space and its exploration that you could possibly think of. Of particular interest, might be the Star Finder. It's a simple paper game that will help kids learn the names of the constellations that they are seeing.
For the more serious student (or adult that needs to do some research), this collection of photos of constellations is a helpful tool to have. In addition to showing the constellations, you can compare how they look at different points during the year.
No doubt, constellation study is fascinating. So fascinating that it has perplexed and inspired astronomers through the centuries. Use your constellation studies to further inspire a study of famous astronomers like Copernicus and Galileo.