Kids are naturally very curious about the earth and nature, and this curiosity extends into the sky above them. The summer is a perfect time to stay up a bit later and spend some time learning about stars, planets, and constellations in a fun and engaging way.

The Best Location
There is no specific location you have to be in, but a clear view of the complete night sky makes understand- ing the scope of the night sky much easier for children. It is also helpful if you can get away from the bright ambient lights of the city as you will have the ability to more clearly see the light from the stars.

Watch the Moon
One simple and short activity the entire family can do is to watch the phases of the moon over a month. Take the family outside at the same time each evening, or as often as you can, and look closely at the moon. Have the children talk about the change in shape and learn the different moon phases. They can then draw a picture of what they saw, allowing you to create a moon phase timeline.

You will also be able to see different planets, even with the naked eye. Teach children where to look for the planets and then use a graphic of the solar system for the big picture. NASA has some wonderful resources online for parents and kids about astronomy and moon phases.

Shooting Stars and Constellations
Shooting stars are always fun to watch. Have the children watch the sky and look for the telltale trail of the shooting star. At the same time, start teaching children the basic constellations. The Big Dipper and the Little Dipper are always easy to find as is Cygnus (The Swan), Canis Major (The Great Dog) as well as Scorpius (The Scorpion) and Taurus (The Bull).

Don’t worry if you aren’t up on your astronomy either. There are great apps for any smartphone or tablet that will use your GPS to display the night sky and allow you to find the constellations and stars. You can also read the myths that go along with the constellations, something kids enjoy.

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