Project #1: Make a model of a comet with a ball, garbage bag, streamers and glow sticks and have fun flying it around in space (i.e., the dark)!
Project #2: Make a model of a comet with ice and sand to get a feel for what comets are really made out of.
What you’ll need:
- garbage bag
- plate or circular object
- ribbon, yarn or both
- glow sticks (try the dollar store)
- ball or other round object about the size of a baseball
While the kids worked on this project, I read to them about comets from The Usborne Book of Astronomy and Space.
We learned about the nucleus of the comet, which is like a dirty, icy snowball, and the tail of the comet, which features swirls and twists of color as the comet’s gases burn up as it gets closer to the sun.
We also searched on the internet for “video of comet” and found a few things. Some were a bit lengthy but the important thing is that the kids got to see some video of actual comets.
We used the internet links in the Usborne book to learn even more about comets.
And when darkness came, we were ready to take them for a space flight. It was an amazingly warm night for February so we went out in the driveway to test them out.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get any good pictures of them flying at night, all lit up. They just looked like blurs of light. But the kids had fun.
They were zinging them up and down the driveway for a while. This was also a good time to take note of the night sky. We are usually so busy getting everybody ready for bed and wrapping up our day, that we don’t often get to stand around outside and gaze up at the amazing night sky. I was glad we got to do this tonight. We spotted a gorgeous crescent moon, some constellations and even a planet, which we are pretty sure was Jupiter.
Then the kids went to bed with their new creations to enjoy the glow-in-the-dark comets until they drifted off to sleep.
Project #2: Make a comet nucleus.
Unless you have actual snow and dirty ice around that you can scoop up and play with, here is how you can make some to create a small version of a comet.
This was a great sensory activity for my kids, who range in age from 3 to nearly 8. They spent a lot of time mixing and molding the ice and sand mixture into the bowls, touching the cold ice and the gritty sand. We talked about how this was just a very tiny version compared to a real comet.
Next up in our astronomy studies: The Stars.
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