Teaching Astronomy For Kids
As an elementary school science teacher, I always have a lot of fun teaching kids astronomy. It is natural to want to look up at the sky with a sense of wonder and ponder the nature of the whole universe around you. This is just the desire that astronomy for kids caters to. It is a great place to use a child’s natural curiosity to inspire a lifelong passion for the study of science.
One of the things that a lot of adults do not understand is that kids want to learn. It is all just a matter of making things seem accessible and important to them. That is why I usually start my astronomy for kids classes with a field trip. Rather than looking for the things they have already studied, they go in with fresh minds, ready to record details about the celestial bodies. I let them look at stars and planets through the telescope and make observations. Then, the next day in class, we use these observations as a starting point.
Of course, astronomy for children is not all just looking at neat pictures from the Hubble telescope or gazing through our own telescope (although there is a fair bit of both of these activities). Once we get back from the field trip, the class launches right into a lesson. The students make a list of questions they have. Usually, they want to know why the stars twinkle, why Mars is red, what the moon looks like up close, and things like that. Once they ask these questions, we can begin the class.
The great thing about starting my astronomy for kids class this way is that it is driven by student interest. They want to know about the moon so, when I tell them about the moon, it does not come across as just a bit of boring lecturing. The same goes for all the other subjects. They are motivated to learn, and that makes the learning happen.
At the end of the astronomy for kids class, I usually take them out to look at stars again. This time, however, we know a lot more about the heavens. When the children look out through the telescope, they can make meaningful observations about the universe around them. By comparing how they felt the first time they looked through telescopes to how they felt the second, they can see the importance of learning.