September 9, 2011

Enjoying God's Creation: A Child's View of the Heavens

Gasps pierced the silence followed by exclamations of "I see the moon!" -- "I hope I see a satellite." -- "Heeeeeeey! I see a circle right over there!" -- "It's so sparkly!!"  **giggle** -- "Elijah, you can't see a satellite. They're way out in the universe... that's out where God lives." -- "And boy, He sure is BIG!"

The grandkids (ages 2-7) came over for a backyard camp-out Labor Day weekend, and we took advantage of the gorgeous night for a little trip through the Milky Way. They had a great time exploring, and I had fun just listening to their little minds processing audibly.

The moon, observing target #1, was actually visible during daylight hours. The kids responded to this discovery with squelched snickers and feigned indignation, as if they didn't know whether to scold him for sneaking out of bed -- or praise him for pulling it off. Even the two-year-olds joined in with lots of jabbering and pointing.

Later, as the night deepened I pointed out the Big Dipper to them, and their excitement at recognizing the shape of the handle and the cup surprised and delighted me. Mission accomplished with observing target #2.

Stargazing with young children doesn't have to be complicated. It shouldn't be. It's a wonderful and unique way to make lasting memories that foster family bonding. These are the kind of moments that encourage your child to open the window of their heart and invite you into their world... to give you a glimpse of what they perceive... what they feel. It encourages their creativity and expands their awareness of God's great big universe. 

Here are some suggestions to help you create a successful creation-focused star party for young children.
  
Keep It Simple and Short
Focus on the kids, and on expanding their awareness of God's created marvels in the night sky. For the very first outing – simply plan to look up and talk about what you see. Talk about what the bible says about the moon, stars, constellations and who made it.

Plan Ahead 
  1. It helps to know what objects will be visible and to have at least one target in mind. 
  2. Set your blankets or lawn chairs up while it's still daylight.
  3. Don't forget the bug spray (if you plan to be out for 5 or 10 minutes or more)
  4. Prepare a Red-light flashlight for each child.
    This is a fun and easy project made by covering a flashlight lens with red tail light tape, available at any auto supply or hardware store. Remember from last week's post, the red light helps protect dark adapted eyes, and is essential for reading your planisphere (Star Wheel) in the dark.

    Moon Fun for Pre-Schoolers
    1.  The moon changes shape every night
    2.  The moon grows (waxes) and shrinks (wanes)
    3.  The surface of the moon is covered with mountains and craters
    4.  The shaded areas on the moon make pictures. What do you see?

    Links
    Make a Star Wheel -  a fun and easy project; (or purchase on-line by searching for a planisphere)
    Getting Started in Astronomy - a great beginners guide
    This Weeks Sky At A Glance - to help you determine what will be visible, and what events to look for

    Scriptures About God's Heavens:
    (Leave a comment with your favorite creation scripture and I'll add it to the list with a link back to your blog.)
    Psalm 8:3-4 
    Psalm 147:4
    Job 38:31-33



    2 comments:

    1. I love your ideas--how you integrate God's Word into all that surrounds us! My grandsons would be thrilled to do this. I'll have to try it next time I am out their way (1200 miles separate us). They live in big sky country so it will be especially fun there. Thanks!
      Blessings!
      Pam at www.2encourage.blogspot.com

      ReplyDelete
    2. Pam, I'd love to stow away in a trunk on your next journey to big sky country! I can't imagine the beauty you'll behold under truly dark skies. Someday.... :)

      ReplyDelete

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