Longest Night Stargazing for Kids – May Help Fear of the Dark

What to do on the shortest day of the year? Night starts in the afternoon so there’s plenty of time for this activity: longest night stargazing for kids. It’s something to anticipate all day long, but no worries because the day part seems so short.

stargazing for kids

When it’s dark enough, dress for the weather and go outside to check out the stars. The clear, cold nights seem to make them shine brighter. So often, something we do as a child can make a life-long impression and memory. Pat McCarthy, the director of the Giant Magellan Telescope says, “I remember as a kid with my small telescope – going out in December and looking at all the beautiful things in the winter sky….It’s a lot of fun and I hope other people do it as well. It’s a nice thing to do over the holidays.” (How To Stargaze on the Winter Solstice) While very few kids will have telescopes, it’s still exciting to see all the stars twinkling in the sky.

Back inside, a cup of hot chocolate warms up cold fingers and toes. There could be plenty time before bed to read a story about stars too. Astronaut Chris Hadfield tells about being a young child with a fear of the dark in his new book, The Darkest Dark. Although the story in the book happens in the summertime, being afraid to sleep or stay in their own beds happens for many children at any time in the year. In the book, Chris is impressed by the darkness of space and calls it the darkest dark. That night, instead of seeing scary things in the dark, he sees “the power and the mystery and the velvety black beauty of the dark” and wants to explore the night sky.

stargazing for kids

Spending part of the longest night stargazing for kids may help your child enjoy the dark instead of being afraid. Kids can also sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Don’t we all wonder about the stars?



Star Wars Play: Self-Directed Play

The star of all play ideas is self-directed play, and kids themselves will remind us if we forget. As adults, it’s so easy to get caught up in planning and orchestrating children’s play, instead of allowing them to direct it themselves.

self-directed playToday, I was trying to think of another Star Wars play activity for today but the kids beat me to it. Little Sister rounded up all the shapes from a toy she hadn’t played with in a long while. Each shape has a small hole in the middle so it will sit on a peg board. She didn’t stop until she had a shape on every peg so the board had no empty spaces.

I thought I was suitably enthusiastic when I said, “Wow, look at all those shapes. You worked to fill up the whole thing,” but I guess not. Little Sister had to point it out. “See, the shapes are in lines.” My second wow was much better. I hadn’t even noticed, but sure enough, the shapes were separated so all of the circles, triangles, stars, etc were in their own lines. There was no need for me to get bent-out-of-shape thinking of something to do. The stars had already aligned.

It’s so important for us to let kids be the stars in their own play. We can support their play by being there for them to ‘show and tell’. Many times kids will invite us to come and see. Even though they are playing, this is their work. They are proud of their own efforts and want us to be too.

We can also support children’s play by giving them a space where they are free—with a few guidelines, of course—to choose how they will play. They may want to spread out a puzzle, build high and wide with blocks, or zoom cars in a big, empty space.

As kids play, we can notice what they are doing and occasionally ask questions or make comments. For instance, if Little Sister hadn’t placed the shapes in their own line, I may have noticed where there were a couple of the same shape already and asked if more of that shape could go in the same line too. There are often ways to extend play, once we take the time to really look.

This Star Wars play-of-the-day was very different from my perspective. Today, self-directed play gets the star.

Star Wars and Stars in Nature

Star Wars is certainly a people-made phenomenon while real stars are from nature. In order to see stars in nature, we have to wait until night—most of the time. We can even eat stars or, at least, eat around in appleStars in nature may be as close as your fridge or bowl on the counter. Are there any apples at your house? When we cut an apple in half, starting at the stem and going to blossom, we see the core in the middle. But it looks very different when we cut the apple in half going the other way, that is across the equator. This way the core makes a star! (You may have to shake out a few seeds to better see the star.)stars in natureFrom a star in the sky, to one on the beach, to a star on the table. Nature uses patterns and finding these is a way of encouraging a connection to nature. We often limit our idea of nature to what is happening outside, but we are part of nature, and so is the food we eat. Checking out the star in an apple is another way for kids to think of nature as what’s happening up close and personal. Now, kids will look for more stars in there any other things in the fridge that make a star? Although you likely won’t discover any, kids will look at what is there in a different way. A carrot is pointy like part of a star, a cauliflower (if you can afford one these days) has little tiny parts that are sort of like stars, and a banana looks more like the moon. Sometimes in the store, there is a piece of fruit called star fruit. Have you ever tried one?To find a star with other foods, we might just have to cut in a star shape, like this sandwich Discovering a star in an apple, isn’t a “play-of-the-day” but it has encouraged a connection to nature, used action for problem-solving,  sparked curiosity, and  raised a new question—what else has stars?

Star Wars Tortilla Planets – Breakfast Or Dessert

There are dozens and dozens of ideas for Star Wars foods, but this is one of the tastiest, Star Wars Tortilla Planets, so nutritious they can be breakfast and so good they can be dessert. Thanks to Heather Tallman, at Basilmomma for these. Don’t they look delicious? Place two tortillas on a cookie sheet, (lined … Continue reading Star Wars Tortilla Planets – Breakfast Or Dessert

Star Wars Activities for Kids: Exploding Stars

Star Wars activities for kids do not need expensive toys or high-tech materials. Your kitchen cupboards likely have some items you can use for some science fun about stars. Yesterday, we looked at some pictures on the computer about stars and star dust. In one, there were gazillions of little white specks covering a dark … Continue reading Star Wars Activities for Kids: Exploding Stars