Learning About Stars

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We are learning about stars. We began with a fun project, then we got down to business to understand the life cycle of a star. First, let me show you our fun project.

We made a floating star jar. Very easy. Here’s all you need:

  • 1-2 blottles of Karo Syrup (light colored corn syrup), depending on the size jar you use.
  • A clear, empty jar.
  • A handful of glow-in-the-dark stars
  • A tube of glitter

Throw everything into the jar and stir. The Karo Syrup allows the stars and glitter to be suspended in the liquid. It’s sort of like a snow globe that doesn’t need much shaking to make it snow.

The real fun was when we took the jars into a dark room and could see the glowing stars. Of course, those pictures didn’t come out so good, so instead I can show you how sparkly the glitter looks when you set the jar in a sunny location. But at night, my kids have a cool night light for their rooms.

One of my kids is itching to do this again because he wants more glow-in-the-dark stars and less glitter. We did use a lot of glitter for our first project and it does obstruct some of the glow-in-the-dark stars. So if you want more sparkle, use lots of glitter. If you want more glow, use less glitter.







Now, here’s what we did to learn all about the amazing life of a star. We started with our trusty Usborne Book of Astronomy and Space. We read about the stages of a star’s life: stellar nebula (birth), average/middle aged star, dying red giant, planetary nebular (puffing out), and the small, almost dead white dwarf.

We used a Life Cycle of a Star free printable (see photo below) from Mari-Ann at the wonderful Counting Coconuts blog. I added notes to the bottom of each card that matched the description in our book. As we read, I had Firefly, my 7 year old, put the cards down in the right order. When we finished reading, he mixed them up and put them in order again from memory. Then we used them to make a poster to hang on the wall.

After that, we went back and used the internet links in the Usborne Book to learn even more about stars. We also reviewed our book on constellations that we made last week. We have been able to spot two of the constellations we’ve learned about just gazing up at the night sky over the past week. We are excited to see what we can see via telescope soon.

We watched a wonderful DVD that I got for free from NASA , called Journey to the Stars. This is an amazing program about the life and death of stars, including our sun, and shows beautiful images from earth-based and space-based telescopes. Unfortunately, NASA is out of stock with these free DVD’s but you can get on a waiting list to get your own here, watch a trailer on YouTube, or go see it at the American Museum of Natural History in New York  or the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

For my youngest kiddo, I set out some play dough, star cookie cutters, a drinking glass to make round and crescent moons, and, to his delight, his own tube of glitter. He had great fun sprinkling and working the glitter into the dough and cutting out his own shapes. This activity was also inspired by Mari-Ann at Counting Coconuts. Her whole post on Space activities for preschoolers has some wonderful ideas.







For more ideas on learning about astronomy, follow my Astronomy pin board on Pinterest.