What if we introduced our kids to a huge video screen that updates constantly, is infinitely beautiful and definitely educational? What if our kids got as excited by the real world as they do by the worlds on their iPad? Star gazing with your kids is an opportunity to bond, to learn and to enjoy some peaceful “off the grid” time as a family.
Summer is the ideal time to explore the skies. You’re probably outdoors a lot anyway and the summer night sky is often clear and bright. No fancy equipment is needed to star gaze. A telescope is ideal but not necessary. Binoculars can be helpful. But if all you have are curious kids and a clear sky, that will do. The darker your location, the more you can see. If you live in the city, a short drive to the country is in order. Bring along reclining lawn chairs or a blanket for maximum viewing comfort.
Once you get comfortable, play dot-to-dot with the stars – creating pictures of your own. Kids can name the newfound “constellations”. They can also pick out particularly bright stars or patterns and name them after family members, distant or departed. Each time you view the skies, you can look for your family member’s space in the sky. Viewing the moon through binoculars or with the naked eye is very interesting. Noting the change in phases of the moon over time can offer a good introduction to the workings of the universe.
Make an effort this summer to introduce your children to the beauty of the night sky. Who knows? You may have a budding astronaut or astrophysicist on your hands! Check out this site for fun family activities related to the skies and this site to fascinate your kids with fun star facts. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Adventures of Willy Nilly & Thumper: Stella Star – the exciting adventure of a star who fell to earth.