Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Preschool Astronomy

I love astronomy. I always have, as far back as I can remember. I recall sitting on the living room floor in front of the TV, waiting for one of the lunar landers to lift off. I was probably about four or five years old. That's the earliest memory I have of anything astronomy related.

Today, children don't really have the novelty of the dawn of manned spaceflight to inspire them, so here are some ways to introduce children to astronomy.

(Note that some of these are actually intended for children older than preschool level, but you can still use them.)

There's No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System by Tish Rabe

The two children from Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat books take a rhyming journey through the Solar System, learning about the Sun, planets, asteroids, and comets along the way. It's not authored by Dr. Seuss, but it's written and drawn in his familiar style.

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle (of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame)

This is a book about a girl who asks her father to give her the moon, literally. Although it's far from scientifically accurate, it's inspirational, and the phases of the moon figure into the story. It also has some fold-out pages.

The Stars, A New Way to See Them, by H. A. Rey (co-author of Curious George)

I never had this book as a child, but it seems that most kids did, and loved it. It shows a child-friendly way to connect the stars in each constellation to make a shape that matches what it's supposed to be. For example, Gemini the Twins really looks like two people holding hands. There are two drawbacks to this book. 1) A lot of the stars he uses are very dim, so you won't see them from the city, or even the suburbs. 2) He takes liberties with the traditional constellation shapes. For example, his Ursa Major has the bear's nose at the end of the traditional tail.

"A Galactic Goodnight"

This episode of the Little Einsteins has them cruising the solar system to count the planets for Rocket can go to sleep. The song is very catchy; we sang it for a long time afterward! I highly recommend this episode for preschoolers. I don't think it's on DVD yet, so you'll have to check one of the Disney channels.

"What Experiment Does Blue Want To Try?"

This episode from Season 2 of Blue's Clues is about things that sink and float, but because Saturn would float on water, they wind up in space singing a cool song about the planets. It's nice that they incorporate an interesting fact about each planet into the song.

As I remember other resources, I'll add them here.

Do you have any recommendations?


  1. The iPhone app pUniverse has kept me be busy many clear Summer nights more than most astronomy books. I'm no preschooler I know, but still, I can still look up in wonder...

  2. Thanks for mentioning this. Computer programs, websites, and smartphone apps are definitely areas where astronomy shines. Although I mostly use Star Walk on the iPhone, I've heard good things about Pocket Universe too.

    The Astronomy Picture of the Day is also a great resource, with lots of links to explore for each picture.