A constellation is a group of stars that creates recognizable patterns in the sky. When one draws imaginary lines connecting the star patterns together, they form shapes that are named after animals and mythological characters. Children in elementary school learn about space and the constellations. Try some of these fun constellation activities with your third-grade students.
Take your class on a field trip to your local planetarium. Many local colleges and universities have planetariums on their campuses that are accessible to the public. If the local college or university doesn't have a planetarium, check out a telescope for your school. Plan a special constellation event at the school for your students and let the class get a closer view of the stars through a telescope. After the students go to a planetarium, let them create colorful drawings of what they saw and present them to the class.
Making A Constellation
Give each student a printout of a constellation. Make sure everyone gets a different constellation. Pass out a pie pan and projector to each student. Have each student turn their pie pan upside down and place it on the desk. Put the printout on top of the upside down pie pan and tape it on. Poke holes through each star on the printout. Label each constellation with the name on the pan. Take up the pans, turn off the lights in the room and shine a flashlight through the top of the pan. The light beams through the holes, projecting the constellation on the ceiling or wall of your choice.
The Internet can be a great place to fine websites with labeled constellation patterns. Virtual telescopes online are another great source for simulating the constellations. Have the students create a constellation journal with facts and drawings about each constellation they observe on the computer. This is an effective way to connect computer sciences, language arts and science. The website stellarium.org offers a three-dimensional view of the sky, planets and stars.
I'm A Constellation Game
Have students research the different constellations. Let students cut out recognizable patterns for the constellations and let them guess which constellation it is. Let students find 10 facts about each constellation and make questions for the class. After the students figure out which constellation the shape resembles, let students quiz each other.
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