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Astronomy for Kids: Constellations

Discover free online resources about star constellations for kids

Constellation For Kids
By: Mindy Scirri, Ph.D.

What is a constellation? Essentially it is a picture made by the stars in the night sky that our ancestors described and named.  Each constellation has become what we identify as a part of the sky with defined boundaries that include all the stars and other objects found within that boundary.  The constellations have rich stories behind them, so they are not only fun to observe in your backyard, they are also fun to learn about!  Constellations for children can be fascinating gateways to their imaginations.  Here are some free online resources to help you and your child explore these images in the sky:

 

 

Constellation Facts for Kids

There are plenty of resources to get you started learning about constellations.  Here are a few:

 Alphabetical Listing of Constellations
See a full listing of the constellations along with some information about each, including its position in the sky, named stars, messier objects, and information about the myths and legends behind it.

Constellation Facts for Kids
Learn the basics about constellations here, including some statistics, history, effects on human life, and other interesting information. Did you know that the largest constellation is Hydra, which takes up 3.16% of the sky?

Constellations
See simple pictures of the major constellations here. Click on each one to learn a little bit about the history of the constellation and when it is best seen in the night sky.

Constellations and the Calendar
What is the difference between Astronomy and Astrology?  Take a brief look at the symbols and history of the constellations and how constellations relate to the zodiac.

Constellations Sorted by Month
“This is a list of all 88 constellations split up into the months when they are best seen in the sky. The months listed assume that you are looking at the sky at 9:00 PM. For every hour later than 9:00, add half of a month. For every hour before 9:00, subtract half a month. The constellations are typically visible for more than just one month, depending on where you are on the Earth. If you need to know exactly when a constellation is visible, check in a star atlas or on a planisphere.”

 

 

Do Constellations Ever Break Apart or Change?
Find the answer to this question as you explore what constellations really are!

Exploring the Sky – Finding Stars and Constellations (Documentary)
In this Space and Universe video, we are going to take you through a journey where you can learn about the exploration of the southern sky by Europe using the European Space observatory. By watching this space documentary, you can learn about the exploration of the sky, space exploration, finding stars, finding constellations, stargazing at night, European space observatory, finding the biggest stars, etc.”

Imagine the Universe
Welcome to Imagine the Universe! This site is intended for students ages 14 and up, and for anyone interested in learning about our universe.” Search for information about constellations to find the most recent postings.

Starchild: A Learning Center for Young Astronomers
How do you explain constellations to preschoolers and young children?  StarChild is a learning center for young astronomers ages 5-13 to learn about the solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and the universe beyond. Search “constellations” for some fun ways to learn about these sky pictures!

What are Constellations?
So just what are these constellations you keep hearing about? You may go outside some night and see all kinds of stars, and maybe you have even spotted the Big Dipper (northern hemisphere) or the Southern Cross (southern hemisphere), but what about Leo the Lion or Pisces the Fish? What are they?” Find out here!

 

Constellation For Kids

 

Finding the Constellations

Constellation pictures for kids help them learn how to identify constellations.  Here are some resources and tools to help your family find and name the constellations in the night sky:

 

  

Constellation Guide
The International Astronomical Union recognizes 88 constellations covering the entire northern and southern sky. Here is a selection of the most familiar and easily seen constellations in the northern sky.”  Also find out how the constellations got their names and how the signs of the zodiac relate to astronomy.

Google Sky
“Traveling to the stars has never been easier. To help you explore the far reaches of our universe, we have teamed up with astronomers at some of the largest observatories in the world to bring you a new view of the sky. Using Google Maps this tool provides an exciting way to browse and explore the universe. You can find the positions of the planets and constellations on the sky and even watch the birth of distant galaxies as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.” Get the Sky Map app to use the tool while you are mobile!

Make a Star Finder
Make a Star Finder. Learn your way around the night sky by finding some of the constellations. Download and print the Star Finder for this month.”

Make Your Own Star Wheel
“Uncle Al’s Star Wheels are inexpensive star maps, adjustable for any time of night in any month of the year. Such maps are also called planispheres. These star wheels were created by the Hall’s Hands-On Universe project, and based on the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) Sky Challenger.” Just print the template for the area in which you live and put it together.  Then use the current date and time to match your map to the stars in the night sky.

Sky Maps
To help find your way around the night sky, Skymaps.com makes available for free each month The Evening Sky Map — a 2-page monthly guide to the night skies of the world — northern and southern hemispheres, and the equatorial regions. Each issue contains a detailed sky map, a monthly sky calendar, and a descriptive list of the best objects to see with binoculars, a telescope, or using just your eyes.” Use this tool to help you find the constellations! 

 

  

Major Constellations

There are some constellations that are simply easier to find in the night sky.  Most children will try to find the Big Dipper, but did you know that the Big Dipper is not actually a constellation?  It is really part of the constellation called Ursa Major, otherwise known as the ‘Big Bear.’  Similarly, the Little Dipper is part of the Ursa Minor, or ‘Little Bear,’ constellation.  Other commonly found constellations for kids are Orion ‘The Hunter,’ Gemini ‘The Twins,’ and Taurus ‘The Bull.’  Check out these resources for more information about five easy constellations for kids to see:

 

 

Gemini Constellation for Kids

Gemini Constellation Facts for Kids
Learn the basics, including the mythological legend, about Gemini here.

Orion Constellation for Kids

 

Orion Constellation Facts for Kids
Learn the basics, including the mythological legend, about Orion here.

 

 

Taurus Constellation for Kids

Taurus Constellation Facts for Kids
Learn the basics, including the mythological legend, about Taurus here.

Ursa Major Constellation for Kids

Ursa Major Constellation Facts for Kids
Learn the basics, including the mythological legend, about Ursa Major here.

Ursa Minor Constellation for Kids

Ursa Minor Constellation Facts for Kids
Learn the basics, including the mythological legend, about Ursa Minor here.

 

 

Constellation Activities for Kids

Looking for some hands-on activities to make learning about constellations even more fun?  Try these activities with your kids:

Candy Constellation Game
Just a few simple supplies come together to make an edible take on a classic game. Roll tiny jaw-breaker type candies around on a star scape until they find their way onto a constellation.”

Constellations with Rocks and Sidewalk Chalk
Create sidewalk pictures of the constellations using some sidewalk chalk (which kids naturally love) and some rocks from around the yard.

Constellation Sewing Cards
Learn to sew while also learning about the constellations. Download the printable cards and go!

DIY Constellation Projector
Create your own constellation projector with just a few supplies and some printable constellation cards. Then design your own constellations and project them on the wall, too! 

Dot-to-Dot Printables: Constellations for Kids
Connect the dots to show four well-known constellations: Orion, the Little Dipper (part of Ursa Minor), Cassiopeia, and the Big Dipper (part of Ursa Major). 

Geoboard Constellations
Use push pins and string to learn about constellations while developing fine motor skills.  Win win!

If I Was a Constellation
Get your younger kids interested in constellations by having them make constellations using their bodies. Take photos and then have them draw the shapes they created. Use star stickers to really make the constellations stand out!

Marshmallow Star Constellations for Kids
Build your favorite constellations using marshmallows and toothpicks. Then celebrate your constellation knowledge with a snack!

 

Have you discovered a great resource on constellations for kids?  Please share it with your fellow homeschoolers in the comments below….

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