Place some small items or cutout shapes on top of a piece of dark construction paper and put them outside on a sunny day for a few hours. The heat of the sun fades the paper around the objects. Match the objects to the shapes.
The concept of space and its vast distance is difficult to imagine, so the emphasis will be on what is observable. However, read lots of books and use the vocabulary anyway, so the children can hear it and tuck it away for later. Vocabulary: planet, galaxy, solar system, astronomer, orbit, rays, universe, gases, radiation.
The sun that we see in the sky is actually a star. It is the closest star to Earth, so that’s why it looks so big, and other stars that are further away look small. Our sun is very hot, so hot that people can’t live on it. The warmth from the sun reaches the earth over 93 million miles, and it helps plants and animals and people grow. It also makes the light that we see during the day.
We see the sun in one part of the sky in the morning, and another part of the sky in the afternoon. Then at night, we don’t see it at all. Is it moving? Are we moving? Where does it go at night?
What things can we do in the daytime? And at night? What if we didn’t have any electric lights? Would the things we do at night be different? Do you prefer day or night?
The sun helps things on earth to live, but it also can burn your skin if you play outside on a hot, sunny day. Let’s talk about some things we can do to protect our skin from sunburn. (Sunscreen lotion, hat, play in shade etc).
Make a sun catcher
Paint with tempera on a window or patio doors and let the sun shine through.
Sun mobile - cut out a sun shape from a large piece of yellow construction paper, and the children decorate with collage items in shades of yellow, orange and gold. (Tissue, doilies, glitter, gold paint, foil, cellophane, streamers, etc). Hang from the ceiling.
Make a simple sundial. Use a piece of card, and stand a pop stick (or any stick) upright in the middle of the card with a piece of playdoh. Put it outside in a sunny day. Some things you can do, depending on the children, are: point out where the shadow is, and the look a while later and notice the difference; write the time where the shadow hits on the card several times during the day; leave it out for several days, and check if the shadow is in the same place at the same time, or not.
Packs and Printables:
The Sun is my Favorite Star by Frank Asch
Sun Up, Sun Down by Gail Gibbons
What Can You Do in the Sun? by Anna Hines (toddler)