The Nature Friends program is for 4- or 5-year old children with an adult. Maximum group size if 20 child-adult teams. Programs are outside unless weather does not permit.
Stargazing Sky by Deborah Kogan Ray
“What does night mean to you? Where does the sun go at night? What is the large rock in the sky called?” (The moon) Show pictures of day and night, sun and moon.
Activity: Earth and Sun Model
- a small ball
- a flashlight
- a sticker or tape
- Place a small sticker on a ball or globe. This will represent your home on earth.
- In a dark room, set the flashlight on a table and turn it on.
- The flashlight represents the sun.
- Hold the ball in front of the light so that the sticker side is lit up. It is daytime at your home.
- Slowly turn the ball around in your hand until the sticker side is in the dark. It is night-time at your home.
- Turn the ball around again. What’s happening?
The earth is like a ball that spins around once every 24 hours. When the sun shines on earth, it lights up only half of the planet. While that half of the earth has day, the other half has night.
*Excerpted from The Night Book by Pamela Hickman
Animals of the Night: (rainy or cloudy night discussion)
Use duck, fox, and opossum puppets while you: Discuss how the duck and geese will travel at night. Discuss the fox, opossum, and other nocturnal animals.
Good Weather Activity
Take the group out to look at the night sky. Bring binoculars, spotting scope, or telescope to view the moon’s craters and dry seas. Point out Venus, the North Star, the Little Dipper, the Big Dipper and Draco the Dragon constellations. These constellations can be seen any time of year.
Craft: A Star Scope
- toilet paper tubes
- black construction paper
- a star map
- a pencil
- a pin
- Stand the cardboard tube on a piece of black construction paper and trace around it. Cut out the circle.
- Choose one constellation from the star map and copy it onto your black circle, using pencil dots.
- With the pin, poke a hole through each pencil dot, or star, in the constellation.
- Tape the circle to the end of the cardboard tube. Make sure the tape doesn’t cover any of your pinholes.
- Hold the open end of the tube up to your eye and point the other end at a window or light. You should be able to see the constellation shining through.
- You can use several tubes and make a different constellation for each star scope.
- Make different constellations with your friends. Take turns looking through the star scopes and guessing which constellations they show.
Sara Lee Snack: Star cookies or moon cakes and beverage Or cheese and crackers (For the cheese on the moon wife’s tale.)
Star light, star bright
The first star I see tonight
I wish, I may, I wish, I might
Have this wish I wish tonight.
Song: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Twinkle, twinkle little star.
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky.
- The big rock in the sky that revolves around the earth is the moon.
- The large dark areas on the moon are the huge sunken seas that have no water.
- The round holes, or craters, were formed when objects in space, like rocks, crashed into the moon’s surface.
- It is 29.5 days from one New Moon to another.
- Shooting stars are actually meteors or bits of stone or metal burning up as they pass into the earth’s atmosphere.
- Binoculars are great for star watching. You will notice some stars are brighter than others due to different sizes and distances from earth.
The Night Book by Pamela Hickman
Activities provided by:
Polk County Conservation Board
Nature Friends is funded by Polk County Conservation Board, West Des Moines Park and Recreation, and the Des Moines Chapter of the Izaak Walton League.