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Solar Eclipse Activities for Children

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to a solar eclipse. Depending on where you live, you may experience a total eclipse, where the moon will fully cover the sun for a few minutes.

Click here to see if you’re one of the lucky ones who live in the “path of totality”.

While the solar eclipse is an awesome thing to see and experience – for those with small children, there is concern over safety because of the potential damage that can occur if a child accidentally stares at the sun. That said, we’ve come up with some fun and safe activities for children who won’t be watching the solar eclipse. Check them out below.


Games & Activities to Try

Not planning to have your kids watch the solar eclipse? Give some of these fun activities a try!

#1 – DIY Time Capsules

Have children create their own time capsule to commemorate the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. A good date to open it may be April 8, 2024 when the next total solar eclipse is set to cross the United States.

Ideas for what to include in your time capsule:

  • Letter to yourself describing what your dreams for 2024 will be
  • Printed photos
  • Newspaper or magazine clipping (seal in plastic bag to prevent damage)
  • Ticket stubs
  • Favorite toy

[via NASA]


#2 – Solar System with Button Planets

solar-system-buttons (2) What you’ll need:

  • 9.5 inch plastic canvas needlework circles
  • Spray paint
  • White paint pen
  • 9 buttons
  • Embroidery thread
  • Sticker paper
  • Needle

[via Deceptively Educational]


#3 – DIY “Space” Globes

diy-snowglobe What you’ll need:

  • Old jars
  • Plastic figurines or FIMO
  • Glycerine (the secret ingredient)
  • Glitter
  • Water
  • Glue (hot glue gun or superglue works too)
  • Fishing wire for the planets (& plastic ring to suspend them from)

[via Red Ted Art]


push-light-planets #4 – Push Light Planets

What you’ll need:

  • Push lights (available at Dollar Tree stores or most hardware/general stores)
  • Glass paint
  • Mod Podge
  • Space-related book (to look at pictures of planets)

[via Play at Home Mom]


#5 – Total Solar Eclipse Painted Plates

solar-eclipse-paper-plates What you’ll need:

  • Small sections of a pool noodle
  • Yellow paint
  • Red paint
  • Gold paint
  • Black paint
  • Two paper plates per child
  • Hole punch
  • Brass fasteners

[via JDaniel4’s Mom]


#6 – DIY Constellation Projector

Constellation-Cards-8 What you’ll need:

  • PGPB printable constellation cards
  • Light source (Smart phone, flashlight)
  • Push pins
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Tape
  • Styrofoam or cardboard

[via Playground Park Bench]


Activities for Toddler & Pre-Schoolers

The following are activities more suited to smaller children, as suggested by WakeMed Child Life Specialist, Sunisha Barbee.

Fun with Play Dough

  • Make or buy Play Dough and make the moon and the sun.
  • Simulate the moon covering the sun.

Shadow Play

  • Using a flashlight, move a ball or other round object in front of the flashlight to simulate the moon passing over the sun.

Painting

  • Draw and cut out a picture of the sun and moon.
  • Help little ones paint a picture of the eclipse.

Facts About the Solar Eclipse

  • The last time most Americans experienced a total solar eclipse was in 1991.
  • The earliest writings we have showing that people paid attention to eclipses in any official way are around 5,000 years old.
  • Babylonian Clay Tablets provide physical records of ancient eclipses viewed by humans.
  • The path of the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse has been crossed by the tracks of 15 previous eclipses over the continental United States between 1503 and 1970.
  • Solar Eclipses Happen when the moon moves between Earth and the sun.

[source]

There are 4 Types of Eclipses:

  • A TOTAL ECLIPSE happens when the moon completely covers the sun.
  • A PARTIAL ECLIPSE occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun, off center and only a portion of the sun’s disk is obscured.
  • AN ANNULAR ECLIPSE occurs when the moon passes dead center in front of the sun but, because the moon’s orbit is elliptical and so is sometimes closer and sometimes further from Earth, it appears too small to fully cover the disk of the sun.
  • A HYBRID ECLIPSE is a combination of total and annular eclipses. The eclipse begins as one type and ends as another.

Solar Eclipse

Ways to Safely Experience the Solar Eclipse

NASA offers several ways to safely watch the solar eclipse:

Planning to watch the solar eclipse? These glasses are reputed by NASA to be safe for use during the solar eclipse.

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