There is something magical about the age of 5. Everything is interesting: why? who? what? how does it work? And even though we adults may tire of the constant questioning, the little person asking them is completely absorbed in learning.
One such thing that has been mesmerizing the Bug lately is stars. We’re beyond the magic of the falling stars and into the stories and science behind them. Luckily, there are lots of resources out there to help teach– and this super fun art project!
I’m a big fan of when art and science meet so this starry night constellation card craft is perfection in my opinion. Older kids can research the constellations ahead of time; for younger kids, parents can look up the constellations ahead of time and map them out. The Maryland Science Center posts a monthly audio scicast that tells you what constellations you can see in our area that month, so you can do the craft and then put your cards to immediate ‘real world’ use (hello, parenting win!). You’ll find website links for kid-friendly astronomy at the end of this article.
As an added bonus, these look gorgeous on the wall or fridge.
starry night constellation art cards
- watercolor paper
- shades of blue liquid water colors (we used cobalt and turquoise)
- small bowls
- water color paint brush
- star stickers (like those you’d put on a chore chart)
- constellation maps/images of those you can see in your area
- salt (we used sea salt and kosher salt for variety)
- pen/sharpie marker
First step is to research which constellations are currently being seen in your area. Older children can do this using the links below or by listening to the science center scicast; adults can do this step for younger kids.
Cut your watercolor paper in half. Draw out your constellations with a pencil. (Again, this step can be completed by an adult for a younger child!). We used a purple pencil because it was, well, fun.
Place a star sticker over each one of the dots.
Put your liquid watercolors in a small bowl or jar and add water. Then paint all over the paper, right over the star stickers.
Add some salt and see what happens! This will add texture to the painting. Let your painting(s) dry.
Once your paintings are dry, remove the stickers. Ta da! Stars!
Glue your paintings to card stock and label each constellation with a pen or sharpie marker. We put the cards under a heavy book for a few hours to really help the artwork adhere to the card.
Take your cards outside and go and find your constellations! According to the Bug, proper stargazing attire includes leotards, sparkly tutus, and multiple barrettes — but any old outfit will do.
Astronomy Resources for Kids
Maryland Science Center
The Maryland Science Center provides internet broadcasts which sum up the changes and movement in the night sky over the course of a month. This is a great resource for parents. Listen to a three minute clip and you have a solid grasp of the celestial happenings for the whole month! Point your little astronomer in the right direction.
Grab Star Charts Before heading out, print or download a good sky map! The sky changes dramatically from month to month, so it’s important to make sure you have a map that fits the season and your location. Here is a chart for July 2014.
Stories of the Skies Talk abut the magic of stars. Looking up at the skies has inspired many over the years and the stories of the constellation are fantastic. Tell the story of Hercules or Pegasus and enjoy the illustrations accompanying some of the stories here.
NASA NASA Kids Club has a cool website with a ton of interactive features including the Astro-matic 3000 which will tell your child what age and weight they would be on each planet and some moons! If you’re 7 in Earth years, you would only be 4 in Mars years!
National Wildlife Federation The National Wildlife Federation has some fun craft ideas to get your pint-sized astronomers in the mood for stargazing. Try the Night Sky activity, which will help your kids see how rapidly the sky changes as the Earth moves.
Family Stargazing Lie Back, Look Up is a comprehensive website for family stargazing adventures! From snack suggestions to what times work best for various ages, this site has everything.