TiNY Club: Constellation Exploration

“If I let the stars
at night
paint my blanket with milky light
with shapes of hungry birds
while I
slept outside,
imagine what you could do . . .”

Imagine by Juna Felipe Herrera

In our Tiny Club book of the month, Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera, we see an illustration of the author as a child laying under a starlit sky. As he gazes up at a full moon, birds fly overhead and – as it says in the poem – his blanket is painted with milky light.

For today’s Tiny Club activity, we’re going to learn more about the stars and create our own constellation cards while also practicing some prewriting skills.

First, what are constellations? Constellations are groups of stars that form patterns. Many constellations are named after mythical figures. Constellations change positions in the sky each month, and some were used by sailors to help them navigate (that is, plan which direction they needed to steer their ship).

Have you ever seen a constellation? Some of them, like Orion’s belt (three bright stars in a row) and the Big Dipper (which is a part of Ursa Major, or the Great Bear), are easy to spot in the night sky. Others are harder to find.

For this activity, we’re going to use a push pin to poke holes into a piece of paper. Because push pins can be sharp, you’ll want to help your child with this activity and supervise closely. The act of grasping the pin strengthens hand muscles that your child will need when they begin learning to write; it also works on their pincer grasp (using the thumb and index finger) and tripod grasp (using the thumb, index, and third finger). These are also important prewriting skills.

Materials:

A push pin (or, if you’re not comfortable with that, a pen)
A piece of dark construction paper or cardstock
Markers
A towel

Instructions:

1. First, look at images of constellations with your child. Pick one that you would like to copy, then help your child draw the outline of the constellation onto the construction paper. Use your markers to draw circles on the outline to represent the stars in the constellation.

2. Lay your towel on a hard surface like a table, then place your constellation paper on top of the towel. Use your push pin or pen to poke holes wherever there are “stars” along your constellation outline. Encourage your child to hold the paper with their non-dominant hand while their other hand pokes the holes.

3. Once the paper is done, help your child make the holes larger. A pen or pencil works great for this step!

4. Next, you can hold your paper up to a light or against a window to see the constellation emerge. The light should shine through the paper like stars! 

A DIY Constellation!

Next time you’re outside at night, encourage your child to look up at the sky and see if they can find their constellation.

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