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  • 1.  young children and the eclipse

    Posted 08-16-2017 09:31 AM
    In addition to thinking about safe viewing I was wondering what young children of different ages might understand about an eclipse. What are your thoughts on the balance between letting children observe and adults giving information about the eclipse?

    What might a toddler understand, a preschooler, a child in kindergarten, etc? What are some books adults might read with young children, learning activities, etc. I was thinking of useful info for both teachers and families. 


    Susan Friedman
    Bethesda MD

  • 2.  RE: young children and the eclipse

    Posted 08-17-2017 06:29 PM
    ​A book I have always liked for young children is Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch.  It is a good way to introduce older toddlers, and preschoolers, to the idea that we can see the moon in the sky, but it is too far away to touch.  I think I would share stories and songs about the sun and the moon with children to build the background knowledge a little before trying to explain the science behind the eclipse.  Some children may associate the moon only with night time, and the sun only with day time.

    After the initial introduction, I think a simple explanation about how the eclipse happens, no matter the child's age, would suffice.  Then address any questions that might come up, like you would with other subjects.  If they ask questions you don't know the answer to, find out the answers together.

    Janeen Ward
    Early Childhood Instructor
    Southeast Community College
    Lincoln, Nebraska

    Janeen Ward
    Lincoln NE

  • 3.  RE: young children and the eclipse

    Posted 08-18-2017 09:33 AM

    Last time we studied space, we explored shadows indoors and outdoors using flashlights and other objects. I had books from the library with photos of the moon and space objects. While we were looking at the books, one child asked some great questions and I ended up doing a simple model of how the moon revolves around the Earth and the earth revolves around the sun. A few others got interested, too, and were able to talk about it later. Many children in the class also understood the concept of the sun hiding behind the clouds due to a failed Smores experiment (we tried to make Smores outside on a cloudy day). 

    Amy Latta
    Lead NC PreK Teacher
    "All that is gold does not glitter; not all who wander are lost." --J.R.R. Tolkien

  • 4.  RE: young children and the eclipse

    Posted 08-19-2017 10:54 AM
    The solar eclipse on this coming Monday, August 21, 2017, will be a phenomenon that children can experience safely.
    Another book that is written with families in mind is "When the Sun Goes Dark" by Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz
    I wrote about it on the National Science Teachers Association's Early Years blog: Total Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017!
    Nstacommunities remove preview
    Total Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017!
    If you haven't heard about what is known as the Great American Eclipse by now, it is not too late. This August 21, 2017 natural phenomena promises to be well worth "attending" or stepping outdoors for at least a few minutes approaching the moment when most of the Sun is covered by the Moon in your location.
    View this on Nstacommunities >
     I hope to hear how everyone's experiences went, here and on the NSTA Early Years blog.

    Peggy Ashbrook
    Early childhood science teacher
    Alexandria, VA
    NSTA The Early Years columnist, Science and Children
    Early Years blogger,
    Author: Science Learning in the Early Years, and
    Science Is Simple