You may have already had to tell your curious preschooler not to stare directly at the sun. Your school-aged child might be learning about the importance of the sun to the earth in school. Whatever the case, take the opportunity to teach or reinforce lessons about the sun at home. Engage your children in age-appropriate activities that will get them excited about the biggest star in our solar system.
Read books with your kids that teach them all about the sun, its characteristics and its relationship to the earth. For kids 4 and older, check out "The Sun: Our Nearest Star," by Franklyn M. Branley, which introduces kids to the sun with colorful, kid-friendly illustrations. For kids ages 7 and older, "The Sun," by Elaine Landau, includes close-up photographs of the sun's surface and little-known facts about it. You might also want to read "Skin Sense: A Story About Sun Safety for Young Children," by Lori Lehrer-Glickman, Ed.M, which teaches children about how to stay safe from the sun's rays, from the view of a 4 year-old child.
Engage your children in a variety of crafts related to the sun. One simple sun craft your child can make is a paper plate sun. Let your kids use paint or marker a paper plate completely yellow. Cut out orange and yellow triangles out of construction paper and have your child glue them to the back of the paper plate, all around the edges. Alternately, you can have your kids trace their hands on the construction paper to paste along the edges instead of the triangles. Use black marker to draw a smiley face on the sun. For another sun craft, your kids can paint a round foam ball yellow and orange, then cut orange and yellow pipe cleaners into quarters. Stick the pipe cleaners around the circumference of foam sun. Add a string for hanging by poking hole into the foam ball, sticking the end of a string in the hole and filling it up with glue. You can also use foam balls of various sizes to create the earth and the other planets, then hang them all from a wire hanger to represent the solar system.
Take your kids to your nearest science museum, where they will learn more about the sun from experts and have a chance to see models of the sun up close. You can also visit a planetarium, some of which are part of science museums, where your kids can watch special shows relating to the sun, moon, planets and stars. Some planetariums have shows specifically focused on the sun, such as the Adler Planetarium (adlerplanetarium.org) in Chicago and the Morehead Planetarium (moreheadplanetarium.org) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. If you do not have a science museum or planetarium near you, you can always go on a virtual field trip on educational websites to learn more about the sun. Another idea is to go somewhere with an amazing view to watch the sunrise or set with your kids.
Sun Safety Activities
Part of teaching your children about the sun should include teaching the importance of protecting their skin from the sun. Teach your kids about what to wear for sun protection by bringing out a variety of clothing items. For example, you could bring out a baseball hat, a crown and a visor and ask the kids which one will best protect their head and face from the sun. Bring out a bottle of sunscreen, shaving cream and lotion and ask which one they think will protect their skin from the sun, then show the kids how to properly apply it. Another idea is to have the kids create a collage of pictures of people wearing the proper clothing that will protect them from the sun.