Most nights, my daughter hurries me through dinner and the washing up to sit in our yard and look at the stars. “Mum! Mum! Want to see the Peter Pan star?”
The brightest star we can find is always the Peter Pan star (in Disney’s version of Peter Pan, Neverland is located “second star to the right and straight on till morning”). We also check in on the moon and celebrate when we see a shooting star. Sometimes, we only last the crisp night air for a few minutes. Other nights, my daughter could be out there all night if we let her!
The night sky is fascinating for children – and adults – of all ages. Best of all, star gazing is something that can be done in your own backyard. Here are some tips for making your family astronomy excursion a fun one!
1. Get cosy.
We’re in the middle of winter so it’s cold! But it’s also the perfect time of year for star watching as the sky is so clear and bright. Make yourselves as warm and comfortable as possible. Lay out a picnic blanket, grab some bean bags or recliner chairs, dress warmly and snuggle under some blankets or sleeping bags as you look up into space.
2. Grab your binos.
You can star gaze without a pair of binoculars, but if you have some, bring them along to your stargazing expedition. Your kids will feel as though they’re on a real mission! If you have older children, you could borrow a constellation guidebook from the library and even consider purchasing a small telescope.
3. Have some snacks.
Snacks will help your backyard outing last for more than a few minutes! Bake some “star biscuits” (any recipe will do – just use a star biscuit cutter!), munch on some “Pluto popcorn” and sip a mug of “Milky Way” (hot chocolate).
4. Play space-themed music.
“Ground Control to Major Tom …” (Sorry, David Bowie “Space Oddity” fan here!). Listen to some of your family’s favourite tunes or try some space-themed music. Here is an astronaut’s playlist from SPACE.com for inspiration: https://www.space.com/11037-space-music-playlist-astronauts-wakeup.html
5. Get talking.
It’s amazing what ideas and discussion the stars inspire. Let the conversation flow. Don’t feel that you must only concentrate on the stars and constellations. Try to relax and enjoy this opportunity to spend quality time with your kids under the brilliance of the night sky. Your children will remember this special time for many years to come.
This post is written by Lauren Shay – Full Stop Publishing, on behalf of My Cubby – on a mission to get kids back outdoors into happy, healthy play.
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