About Me

I'm a mom, a teacher, a student, a wife, and a scout leader. I am actually an education major currently working on my practicum in a 2nd grade classroom. I also home school my two children. I'm also a cub scout leader, a girl scout leader, and at church I'm the children's music leader. ;) I tend to stay a little busy. My state requires homeschoolers to keep a portfolio. I am going to use this blog as my portfolio.

What am I?

Monday, August 29, 2011


Most people who know my 5 year old son know that he LOVES space. He LOVES any type of science. His plan is to become a  physicist and go to outer space. Hopefully, they'll plan a new space program by then. We'll see.
We are fortunate enough to have a planetarium in our little city. A couple of weeks ago he was able to go and learn more about space. He also watched the little video called "Follow the Drinking Gourd" which is based off the story about the slaves and the underground railroad who followed the Big Dipper to escape. It's a very cool story. Then, last week he went to the observatory and was able to look through the huge telescope and see all kinds of things he can't normally see. He came home and told me about a double star he saw. Did you know there were double stars? I sure didn't. So, my 5 year old then explained to me what a double star is and why one star was blue and the other yellow (I did know why they were different colors -- just to clarify). So, I then set to work to find an activity we can do at home to help strengthen this love of astronomy. His virtual school has an astronomy club but you have to be in third grade to join so we'll just have to do our own. Here is the activity that I found.

What You Need:

  • Empty paper towel roll
  • Stickers of stars and planets
  • Paint
  • Internet or local newspaper
  • Blanket

What You Do:

Make a Telescope
While you won’t be able to see any far out planets with an empty paper towel roll, it will help your child focus on what she’s looking at. To make this homemade “telescope”, have your child paint her paper towel roll and decorate it with stickers of the stars and planets. Getting your child involved in the process will build anticipation for the evening.
Research the Night Sky
Some constellations are easier to see than others. Ursa Major, "The Great Bear", is the most popular constellation because it is visible in the Northern Hemisphere year round. The Big Dipper is actually not a constellation at all, but part of The Great Bear. And the North Star, Polaris, is not the brightest star in the sky, but a very important one. Because of where it sits in the sky it appears not to move, making it the marker to find north from anywhere on Earth! Orion, "The Great Hunter", is another favorite of junior astronomers and easily visible from January through April. Teaching your child the legends behind the constellations may also helps her remember what to look for and get excited about it along the way. For example, Orion is the great hunter of the night sky traveling with his two loyal dogs - the constellations Canis Major and Canis Minor. The three stars which make up Orion’s belt that hold his sword are easy to spot. And from there you can locate an array of other constellations.
Not sure what to look for? Using the Internet is a quick and easy way to find out which stars are currently in your area. Check out googolplex.cuna.org and www.astronomical.org.  You can also often find this information in your local newspaper.
Let the Gazing Begin
You will probably have to let your child stay up a little later than usual, but lying in the backyard with mom and dad looking at the night sky will be an experience well worth it! It will take your eyes 30-40 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so be patient. As your child looks up at the stars with her handmade telescope, ask your child, “What do you see in the sky?” Explain that the stars make pictures called constellations, and that constellations are used to help people remember which stars are which. Check out the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, part of the Big Dog constellation.
On a clear, dark night, you can see between 1,000 and 1,500 stars with the bare eye. Point out a few constellations but also encourage your child to find her own pictures in the sky. If she were an astronomer, what would she name them?
This is a fun way to introduce the beginning concepts of astronomy and get your child excited about something science-related. It’s also a great way to spend a summer night with the whole family involved.

What are your child's interests? Do you do anything to help them grow in those interests at home? I love getting ideas!

1 comment:

Hannah said...

That's why I saved my college astronomy book! Just in case my little guy has questions... :) We might try this activity!