Nighttime can be great family fun time

Explore the night time as a family through these two fun children’s books and activities.

Take advantage of relaxed summer schedules and have a star viewing party with your family.
Take advantage of relaxed summer schedules and have a star viewing party with your family.

Summer is a great time to get outside and explore the night sky. Relaxed schedules and later bedtimes make it a perfect time to do some night exploring as a family. You can use children’s books to help frame your nighttime activities and provide some more opportunities to explore different ideas about nighttime.

“Stars Above Us,” by Geoffrey Norman, is about a girl named Amanda. She is afraid of the dark until her dad shows her all the wonderful things about the dark. “Night Catch,” by Brenda Ehrmantraut, is about a father and son that find a unique way to play catch while being separated by a great distance.

Read the books and then try a few of these activities together. You can also do the activities on their own without the books.

  • Have a star viewing party! Stay up late, set up a comfy viewing area and have star snacks such as star-shaped sugar cookies, chocolate stars or star fruit. Use sky or star maps (available free online or through your smart phone app store) to help find different constellations such as the Big and Little Dipper and Polaris (the North Star). Draw pictures of what you see and talk about how stars can be seen even if you are apart.
  • Make stars together. Draw stars, cut them out and paint them with glow in the dark paint. Hang them up in a window or special place.
  • Explore what kinds of animals are awake at night. Go outside at night and see what animals you can find. Are there lightening bugs, bats, moths, rabbits? Record what you see by drawing or writing about what you see. Explore how these animals see at night, why they light up or why their eyes glow.
  • Explore the different shapes of the moon. Each night, observe what the moon looks like and draw a picture of the shape of the moon. See what happens over the course of a month and how the moon changes shapes. Explore more about the different phases of the moon and how the Earth rotates.
  • Take a family trip to the local library to check out books about nighttime or stars.

Nighttime can be a great way to explore and spend some quality time together as a family. For more ideas about activities and articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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