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Projects for Third Grade: Observing the Sky with a Sky Map

written by: Alicia • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 1/20/2012

Get your 3rd grade students to have fun while exploring the night sky. Use a sky map to find constellations visible in your area.

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    Teach:

    Give the students facts about constellations. See how many constellations your students are already familiar with and write the names of them on the board. Constellations have been observed for over 2,000 years. Scientists spent long hours studying the sky and discovering the essential stars that formed the constellations. Tell the students the hard part has already been done for them-the discovery of the constellations. This project is going to teach them how to observe the sky.

    Materials:

    1. Printed sky map
    2. Flashlight
    3. Blanket
    4. Pillow
    5. Compass
    6. Notebook
    7. Pencil

    Instructions:

    1. Print a free sky map for each child. Click, "Sky Map" and scroll down to enter your latitude and longitude. If you don't know your coordinates, then choose, "Set for nearby city". Then choose the dates and times for the children to observe the sky. Print out the sky map (one for each student).
    2. Hand out the sky maps and tell the children the date and time that they are to observe the sky and when to report back.
    3. Give students a list of constellations to find. When they find them, they should record their observation into a notebook. They should also write about anything that they find interesting or anything that surprised them. Find out if locating the constellations was made easier by using the map and compass.
    4. You may want to have the children observe the sky every Monday for one month and report back as to where the constellations were at the beginning of the month and where they were at the end of the month. Did they stay in the same location? Did they move farther down the street? Were the same constellations there or were there new ones at the end of the month?

    Review:

    This project is more like an exercise in observation. It will give students a hands on experience learning how the sky moves as well as how to read a map of stars. Students will develop a greater appreciation for the constellations and the scientists that study them.

    Image by Lynne Lancaster