Make Your Own Planetarium: Teaching Constellations to Kids

Expose the children in your life to the wonder of the night sky through experiencing it first hand, going to planetariums, reading books, exploring online, and making their own constellations in their very own planetarium.

The night sky has always fascinated, no matter what age you are.  Sadly, in this age of walled back yards and bright lights, T.V. and electric games, children have lost touch with the incredible wonder that the night sky brings.  It is so incredibly important that we, as teachers and parents, try to preserve this sense of a larger universe, this sense of something bigger than ourselves as we look up at the night sky.  That sense of childish wonder will encourage those same children to be scientists, environmentalists, mathematicians and astronauts.  Science is fun!


A flashlight

Empty tin can, preferably a coffee can, but a large soup can would work

Hammer and large nails that are easy for children to hit

Paper and pencil

Some sort of tape

  1. Look at and talk about constellations.  Tell some of the stories that go along with some popular ones where you live.  Orion is a good one, or the Great Bear or Little Bear here in Kansas.
  2. Show how each constellation is kind of like a dot to dot picture with an imaginary line drawn between each star to show the picture.
  3. Using the bottom of the can that you have chosen, trace a circle.
  4. Have the children make a simple picture of an animal or an item inside of the circle that you created with the can.  This is important as the constellation must fit within that circle.
  5. Now have each child tell a short story about the picture they have made, just two to three sentences.  Write down the stories, or have the children write them down if they are able.
  6. Using no more than 10 dots, make a dot to dot directly on the picture connecting joints and limbs and important parts like the head.  Don’t use more than 10 dots, as you will be making holes in the can with those dots, and you don’t want to make them too close together.  The smaller the can, the smaller nail you should use and the fewer dots there should be.
  7. Now tape the circle picture securely to the bottom of the can.
  8. Carefully using a hammer and nail, put a hole into the can over each dot, removing the nail after a hole is made.  Children should be supervised when doing this and an adult should do this for very small children.
  9. When the picture is made with a hole for each dot, remove the paper.
  10. Now comes the fun part.  In a dark room, the darker the better show your constellations with a flashlight turned on inside the can and the picture shown up to the ceiling.    A dark cloak room in a school works great or just a couple of really heavy blankets thrown over some large chairs.  You might have to maneuver the light a bit to get the picture to show the best.
  11. Have the children recite their stories at the same time, and it is a great project for an older group to do for a younger.

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RSSComments: 5  |  Post a Comment
  1. Great Share………………Keep going.

  2. This is interesting, nice ideas. I always like Planetarium too.

  3. Seems like a fun excercise. Thanks for the idea.

  4. Very nice post

  5. very nice like your work

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