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Volume 2 Issue 6
July 2004


Shoot for the Stars

WELCOME! to Education World's Early Childhood Newsletter. Each month, I'll share some ideas on a familiar teaching theme. Hopefully you will find a new activity idea or two -- or a new twist on one of your old favorites! Since I know you are very busy, I'll be short and sweet -- like most of activities I suggest.

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It's July -- Shoot for the STARS!

July is all about observing and savoring the beauty surrounding us, and developing senses of wonder and curiosity in our children and students. That thought came to light earlier this month when, while on vacation far from city lights, I spent several nights reveling in the star-filled sky. Children too, look up at the night sky and feel a bit of the largeness, the distances, and the seemingly unending numbers of those lights twinkling above them. This month's theme capitalizes on our summertime fascination with the night sky and can overflow right into August when the Perseid meteor shower will be at its height.

Anne Guignon
Editor, Early Childhood Education Newsletter


SING A Song or Learn to Recite a Poem
Sing songs and listen to recordings about stars. Here are just a few popular favorites:
--- "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"
--- "When You Wish Upon a Star"
--- "I Only Have Eyes for You (Are the Stars Out Tonight?)"
--- "Catch a Falling Star"...

WRITE/Talk About Stars
Use some of the above song lyrics as writing/speaking prompts. Children can finish the sentence, create poetry, or write a story. Youngest children can fill in the blank with different words as you pause in the lyrics. Examples: "...like a ______ in the sky"; "When I wish upon a star, _____________"; "Catch a falling star and put it _________."

Create Starry ART
Provide materials for children to make starry art, then display in and around the classroom. Play "starry" music as they work.
--- Sponge Stars. Paint with star-shaped sponges.
--- Starry Sky Drawings. Draw stars with crayons, then paint over with thin wash of black or dark blue. Crayoned areas will "resist" the paint and glow!
--- Put Your Name in the Stars. Connect the dots (tiny gold stars) to make your name. Students, depending on level, can trace their names with the beginning and ending of each letter marked with gold stars; write their names and stick stars on the beginning and ending of each letter. Older students can begin with a blank paper. (Math connection: sort by number of stars, number of letters, etc.)

--- Talk about the sky and what children see there. Spend time outdoors listing all the things children see in the sky. (Don’t forget the planes and helicopters, and the birds and bugs students see there too.)
--- Talk about the sun (but caution children about looking *at* the sun) and its relationship to Earth. The sun keeps the planet warm, provides light, and can provide energy too. Depending on the level of the children, discuss the fact that the sun is always shining, that the earth turns.
--- Explain that the sun *is a star,* just like the stars children see at night. It looks so big because it is close to Earth. The stars seen at night are far, far, far away.
--- Help children begin to understand that stars (the sun included, of course) is a huge ball of burning gas (for very young children, it’s a ball of fire). A sunburn is evidence of the sun’s heat and power.

WISH Upon a Star
When you wish upon a star, will your wish come true? Help children write their wishes on star cutouts and place them around the room.

MORE About Stars
--- Watch for stars, especially shooting stars -- called meteors. Tell children about the upcoming meteor shower (August 12 -- wish for clear skies!).

--- Inform parents about the meteor shower. The time of day of the meteor shower is difficult for young children, but some might enjoy the wonder of being awakened about 2 a.m. to watch shooting stars from the porch steps or window. Whisper softly to enhance the experience. Teachers: *You* are old enough to get up -- it is a wondrous sight!


Check out the following Web sites for more background and activities.

Astronomy for Kids
Sky maps, planets, sky wonders, and constellations are sections of this site, plus it has a special section just for "beginners."

Astronomy Picture of the Day
Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

This site provides background information and resources for teachers and interactive activities for children. Learn about the constellations, the solar system, and be connected to astronomy news stories. And, right in the middle of the home page, is The Sky Tonight.

Star Stuff Kindergarten
This lesson is from the Institute for Connecting Science Research to the Classroom and based on the Virginia Standards of Learning. Contains science facts, songs, poems.

Hawaiian Astronomical Society
From the Hawaiian Astronomical Society come stories of the constellations and a deepsky atlas.

Kids Earth and Sky
Find transcripts of radio shows that would make great read aloud stories. Contains articles, activities, quizzes about all areas of science. Print outs of constellations and a pronunciation guide to the names of stars. (Comes in handy when faced with Rasalhague and Alphecca!)

Enchanted Learning Astronomy Crafts
Find instructions for a sun, a glitter galaxy, and more.