Use these freebies to teach your kids about the solar eclipse


(Photo: Pixabay)

A total solar eclipse will happen August 21 over a broad swath of the US, as the sun’s trajectory cuts diagonally through the country. The rarity of this event makes it a perfect opportunity for memories and learning for families able to witness it.  And, you don’t have to do much homework to make this an experience your kids will remember for a long, long time– we’ve done it for you!

National Park Service

The National Park Service’s Junior Ranger program and the Planetary Society have joined forces to offer a solar eclipse workbook and accompanying video featuring a Junior Ranger and Bill Nye the Science Guy. If you live close to a National Park, you should be able to pick up a hard copy of the Eclipse Explorer book for free. (Just call ahead to make sure they’re in stock.) If you’re not close, you can still download a PDF version so your kids won’t miss out.

Astronomy Magazine

Astronomy.com is offering an eclipse guide which includes answers to common questions and help for practice viewing the solar eclipse before the big day. You will have to sign up for Astronomy Magazine’s email newsletter to receive the download.

NASA

NASA has developed age-appropriate resources for kids interested in astronomy and the solar eclipse. Perfect for grades 5 to 8, this page provides text and graphics to help children understand an eclipse. The bottom of the page also includes more links including one that explains how to view the eclipse safely. This page offers short videos that will engage children and adults alike. NASA also maintains an official page for the solar eclipse. It will be difficult for young children to navigate, but it will be age-appropriate for tweens and teens. NASA also provides activity ideas including how everyone can become a “citizen explorer”– something that could be a family activity during the eclipse.

National Science Teachers Association

The NSTA is providing a free lesson plan with digital resources for everyone regardless of teaching affiliation.  It’s best for middle school students, but some of the resources may be suited for younger children with parental help.

Local organizations

Schools, libraries, and other community groups around the country are planning solar eclipse parties and events. Keep your eyes out for flyers in your area and Facebook events. If there aren’t any where you live, why not plan one yourself?

By J.G. Noll

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