There is something almost magical about the night sky. The moon, the planets, and the millions of stars are amazing sites to see. The more you look at the night sky, the more you realize there is so much to see. As you start stargazing, search out the constellations on view in your part of the world. Finding constellations is a fun way to spend some time with the night sky. Learn more about the constellations and spend some time with your kiddos making these fun and easy constellation crafts. They are a great way not only to pass the time, but they also teach kids more about the night sky.
There are 88 officially recognized constellations in the sky. The more common constellations include the signs of the zodiac – Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces. There are also a handful of others that are fairly easy to find in the sky – Orion, Ursa Major also known as the Great Bear and Ursa Minor or Little Bear.
Whether you know it or not, you are probably well-acquainted with Ursa Major and Ursa Minor because they contain the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. Most of us think of the Dippers as constellations, but astronomers actually classify them as asterisms. An asterism is a group of stars that are arranged in a pattern of there own and are also part of a larger constellation. The handle of the Big Dipper, for example, is actually the tail of the Great Bear and the cup part of the Dipper is the back part of the bear’s body.
Most of the constellation names we use are from ancient Middle Eastern, Greek, and Roman cultures. Forty-eight constellations are considered ancient or original, meaning they were known to the Greeks and often the Babylonians and sometimes earlier groups of people – Scorpio and Orion, for instance, are both mentioned in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Just because we use the Greek and Roman names and patterns, for the most part, does not mean they were the only ones to use the stars. Pretty much every culture on Earth has references to star patterns and constellations, they just are not always the same star patterns.
In some cases, constellations may have once had ceremonial or religious significance. In other cases, the location of certain constellations helped mark the passage of time between planting and harvesting. Today, most people just enjoy searching for and finding the constellations in the night sky as a hobby.
Now that you are armed with some information on constellations, it is time to make some out of this world constellation crafts!
5 Constellation Crafts for Kids
As far as constellation crafts go, this one is cute, fun, and tasty! Armed with a constellation chart, mini marshmallows, toothpicks or skinny pretzel sticks, black construction paper, and a white crayon or colored pencil you can make your own miniature versions of the constellations. Start by gathering your materials. Find a printable constellation chart online. For example, there are some different options at Skymaps.com showing the sky at different times of the year.
Once you have chosen which constellations you want to create, use your white crayon or colored pencil to draw dots for the stars. Play connect the dots with your stars and draw lines connecting them to see the shape of the constellation. Place a mini marshmallow on top of each star. Then connect the marshmallow “stars” with toothpicks or pretzel sticks. You may have to break some of the toothpicks or pretzels in half for shorter distances between stars. Or, like for Orion’s belt where there are three stars in a row, you may want to use one toothpick and put the middle star in the middle of the toothpick with one on each end.
If you use pretzel sticks, you can enjoy eating these constellation crafts when you are finished!
Constellation Sewing Cards
Now that you have a printed constellation chart, use it to make sewing cards (sometimes called lace-up cards). You can use the black construction paper constellation drawings you made for the Marshmallow Constellations or you can make new ones by choosing a constellation from your chart and drawing circles for the stars and connecting them with lines.
Use a hole punch to punch holes for all the stars. Use a yarn needle or a child-safe needle, like those plastic needles that come in many kid’s sewing crafts. You can fashion a needle if you do not have one by cutting an approximately three-inch piece of pipe cleaner and bend a loop at one end for threading the yarn. Thread your needle with some yarn and have your little one “sew” the constellations.
These sewing cards make great constellation crafts for teaching motor skills to your littlest astronomers.
If your little ones can not get enough of the starry sky, this constellation jar is one of the perfect constellation crafts for them. It is simple to put together and uses only three things that you likely have around the house – a jar with a lid and a wide mouth (like a pickle jar or a large mason jar), a small battery-powered light (one of those little battery-powered tealight candles would work great), and a disposable aluminum cake pan or a piece of aluminum foil.
Using scissors, cut a strip of the cake pan or aluminum foil that is long enough to curl around the inside of the jar and tall enough to reach the top of the jar. Next, punch holes in your aluminum strip with an awl or a large safety pin to represent your favorite constellations. Add extra holes around the aluminum strip to make a starry sky. Making the extra “stars” a little smaller than the stars in the constellations makes the constellations easier to find.
Roll up the aluminum strip and fit it inside the jar. Place the battery-powered light inside and screw on the lid. Turn off the lights and your little stargazers can enjoy their very own starry night constellation crafts.
Check out Design Mom for step by step pictures and instructions.
Perfect for a space-themed birthday party or for the little astronomer or astronaut in your life, these constellation crafts are both super cute and functional. To make these constellation coasters, gather felt, craft paint, a jar or other circular object for tracing, a sharpie marker, scissors, a pencil with eraser, some self-adhesive mounting board or other stabilizing material like leftover cardboard or cardstock, and your constellation chart.
Start by using your jar and sharpie to trace circles onto the felt. Make as many circles as you would like. These will be your coasters. Pick out the constellations and asterisms (Hello, Big Dipper!) you would like to put on your coasters. Pour a little of your craft paint onto a paper plate or bowl and dip the pencil eraser into the paint. It is a good idea to test a few dabs on a scrap piece of felt first to see how much paint you need on your eraser and how hard you need to press the eraser onto the felt to get a good “star.”
Once you have the hang of it, dab your felt rounds with the paint-covered eraser in the pattern of your chosen constellations and let them dry. To make your coasters a little more stable, trace the same jar onto some self-adhesive mounting board, cardboard, or cardstock and glue it to the back of your felt.
For step by step pictures, check out Assemble: A Well-Crafted Life.
Share your love of the stars with these constellation cards. These cards make cute space-themed birthday party invites, Christmas cards, or for notes to send a little “hello” anytime. To make these constellation crafts you need black cardstock or construction paper, a pencil, a gold or silver pen, gold or silver star stickers, a ruler, and your constellation chart.
Choose which constellations or asterisms you would like to put on your cards (or even make up some of your own!). Fold a piece of your black cardstock or construction paper in half and sketch out your constellation in pencil. Use the ruler to get straight lines between each “star.” Once you are happy with your sketched out constellation, use the gold or silver pen to draw over the pencil lines. Place the star stickers where the stars belong in the constellation. You can label the constellations if you like or see if the people who receive your cards can figure out for themselves which constellation they have gotten.
Check out Little Fish for similar constellation crafts and some made-up constellation inspiration.
If star-gazing is something your family enjoys or something you are considering for the first time, these constellation crafts can make for some fun family time. They are each a fun way to teach kids (and maybe adults) a little about the starry sky. The cool part about these constellation crafts is that next time you are spending a beautiful night on the back deck, a weekend camping, or enjoying a nighttime stroll on the beach, you will all be able to look up at the sky and find Cassiopeia, Orion, and Ursa Major.
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Sources: Constellation Guide