When children will be around for the solar eclipse, it’s a great chance to have some fun and teach them about astronomy at the same time.
Using a globe, tennis ball and flashlight is a great way to demonstrate exactly how a solar eclipse works. Just turn off the lights and show how the flashlight can cast a shadow on the globe when the tennis ball passes in front of it like the moon passes in front of the sun.
Big Sun, small Moon
Explaining the differences in size between the moon and the sun can be hard for young children to grasp. After all, when the moon covers the sun in the sky, it may look like the moon and sun are the same size.
In reality, it’s all about perspective, and a simple game can demonstrate that. All you need is a quarter and a dinner plate.
Have one child hold the quarter while their friend holds the plate. Up close, it’s obvious that the quarter is smaller. But as they step farther away from each other, or as the quarter is held closer to their eye, the quarter can soon look like it’s bigger than the dinner plate.
You can also have your child predict how far their friend will have to walk before the quarter completely conceals the dinner plate. How far did they have to walk, and was the prediction accurate?
This is a great way to explain how the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, even if they look similar in size when they cross in the sky.
Watch videos together
Today’s kids typically love watching videos online, and a solar eclipse is a great way to put their digital interests to good use.
There are plenty of child-friendly, age-appropriate videos online that explain what a total solar eclipse is and why this year’s event is so unique. Search on YouTube or other video sites for fun videos that explain the basics of astronomy, then share your favorites with your children.
Help with baking
If you’ll be making eclipse-themed treats, let the kids help.
While it can take a bit more time and perhaps create more clean-up work for Mom and Dad, letting children help in the kitchen is a great way to teach basic life skills and make memories at the same time.
With careful oversight, many kids can mix batters, cut out cookies and pour ingredients. It’s a fun way to let them be a part of making the solar eclipse a very special and memorable day.