Mr. Curiosity decided astronomy would be a good topic on which to start the year off. I was all for it since it’s easy to integrate some history/literature into astronomy since all the constellations have a story associated with them. Not every constellation shows up in every mythology, but we focused on Roman mythology, which did cover many of the constellations. Plus it would be easy to go into the scientific history of observing the stars and how the technology has changed over time.
We used several books in our unit study, including:
Constellations for Every Kid by Janice VanCleave, subtitled “Easy activities that make learning science fun.” This book is a combination of information about the night sky, including what the constellations are and how to find them, exercises to practice the concepts provided, and activities to apply the concept discussed in the section. While we decided not to use the questions, it would have been something Mr. Curiosity could easily have used since the author did provide the answers later in the chapter so you can easily check if you understand what they covered.
Mr. Curiosity did complete one of the activities and constructed an astrolabe. I’m not sure how well it works, though, since the weather hasn’t cooperated very well this month, either being too windy or too cloudy to go out in the cold and measure some stars. It did help him complete one of the astronomer challenges on DIY.
The book Mr. Curiosity read the most, though, was The Kids Book of the Night Sky by Ann Love and Jane Drake. This book broke down the night sky based on season and again discussed how to find all the major constellations in the night sky of each season. Usually, there was an associated activity that could be completed, and each section ended with different myths about the night sky, whether how the constellations got their names or explanations of other parts of the night sky. The myths came from a variety of cultures, so they provided a wide picture of the stories that have been told about the constellations.
I did find one other book in our library: Constellations by Chris Sasaki. I was hoping it would provide more in depth stories on the constellations, but while it does cover many of the constellations, the stories were very short, ranging from a few sentences to a page at the most. There are pictures of all the constellations, but the other books I found were much more helpful and interesting.
Overall, I’m not sure January is the best month to do astronomy since the weather doesn’t really cooperate much. If it wasn’t bitingly cold, it’s been cloudy, so we haven’t even been able to see the stars much. Even so, Mr. Curiosity did seem to enjoy learning about the different constellations, and we’ll have to put some of his knowledge to use when the weather cooperates.