These warm summer nights have lured my kids outside in search of toads, lightning bugs, and other creepy crawlies. But while they’ve been searching for nocturnal creatures, they’ve also been doing a lot of stargazing. And since this week’s free iTunes download happens to be the episode from Dinosaur Train: “Stargazing on the Night Train,” my kids had the ingenious idea to create their own constellation centerpiece for our dining table. It’s a fun way to learn the constellations as they can gaze at the centerpiece while they are eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner to memorize everything from Ursa Major to Aquila.
It’s fun, easy, and the constellations even glow in the dark, so if it is raining or cloudy outside – no problem! After dinner, you can turn out the lights and see the different star groups on your own dining room table.
What You’ll Need:
- one black poster board
- glow-in-the-dark paint
- 2 pencils
- kids’ constellation books (optional)
Put it all together!
First, take your pencils and tie a string around one of them. Find the middle of your poster board and hold your pencil point on that mark. Then stretch your string out and tie it around your second pencil so that the pencil stands up straight on the poster board without going off the edge. Then, holding the string firmly, swing your second pencil around the poster so that it leaves a circular line giving you a complete circle.
Next, cut out the circle with your scissors.
Now it’s time to draw your constellations. We picked up a couple of books about them at our local library. Just pick out your favorite constellations and reproduce them on the poster board using the chalk, and then highlight the stars with your glow-in-the-dark paint. The tube comes with a thin nozzle to make writing and drawing easy to do. Be sure to start in the center of the circle and work your way out toward the edges so that you don’t smudge your chalk or paint. Don’t forget to label each group of stars!
If you make a mistake, don’t worry! The chalk easily erases. You can just rub it away with your finger or use an actual eraser.
Finish it off by adding a decorative border to your centerpiece! We used colored chalk to just draw a wavy line.
More Adventures in Learning
- Stargazing with a Pocket Guide
- Learn About the Weather with a Homemade Weather Vane
- Iceberg Science Experiment For Kids
Download a Free Episode
Whether you’re at home or on the road this summer, PBS KIDS can be your partner in on-the-go learning. With our award-winning mobile apps (including the PBS KIDS video player) and PBS KIDS video available for download you can ensure your kids will have a trusty educational travel companion all summer long. Stop by our PBS KIDS Raising Readers home at iTunes and download a free episode this week! This week’s free episode is Dinosaur Train: Stargazing on the Night Train.