Grandchildren Activities: Astronomy for Kids

Make star gazing part of your grandchildren activities. It can be a fun and educational family ritual that grows richer each year as you share lessons about history, myths, beauty and science. Until the sixteenth century, people believed that the stars were close to us and to each other. Now, we have a greater understanding of how vast our universe is. Enjoying astronomy can mean a small step into your own backyard or a giant leap through deeper study and world travel. Summer is prime time for checking out the night sky, but there are opportunities all year round. Different constellations become visible depending on the season and your location. To find out what’s on view in your area, pick up a book or search online for a star chart like this one from NASA. You can start out with your naked eyes or binoculars. If you and your grandkids want a better view, visit specialty shops or websites for suggestions for a beginner’s telescope. Even if you’re a city slicker surrounded by street lights, you should be able to see the moon. Track its path by picking out a nearby landmark. From there, you can work up to the biggest and brightest constellations you can find. Moonless nights provide the best visibility. Select constellations that will entertain children like their birthday signs or favorite animals. Any constellations with a good story will also help. Talk about the labors of Hercules or how Delphinus the dolphin rescues people at sea. Of course, there’s no shortage of science lessons either. Ask your child’s science teacher for ideas or search online for lesson plans and games and crafts. If you’re ready to venture out further from home, take outings to local astronomy clubs, science museums, planetariums and observatories. Research astronomical events you can work into your family vacation plans. Let your grandchildren’s curiosity about the world awaken your own sense of wonder. Astronomy is a rewarding hobby for all ages.
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