Moon Gazing with your Toddler: Science, Nature, and a touch of Folklore
Welcome to the June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor fun
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their stories and tips for playing outside with kids. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
When I was a little girl I wanted to be an astronaut and work for NASA. My dad taught me to love science and the magic of the night sky. He had a telescope and showed us the most amazing things. The things I remember most – seeing the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and a close up of the Pleidies – were probably all when I was older than 1 or 2 but I know that gazing at the night sky was just always part of my life and I want Aellyn to start right away.
Stars and constellations might be difficult for a young toddler to pick out but our beautiful Moon is easy to see! Here are some activities you can do during the warm summer months. It is worth skipping bedtime trust me.
Name the Phases of the Moon
Toddlerhood is all about giving a label to everything they see. Learning why and how the Moon changes shape will probably not be understandable for a few years yet but even young toddlers are adept at identifying shapes! Here are the phases of the Moon and the names of the “shapes.”
crescent, half, gibbous, full, gibbous, half, crescent
Gibbous might be a bit advanced but most toddlers can tell the difference between a sliver, half, or whole.
Books About the Moon
One of my favorite things about star and moon gazing is how wonderfully it teaches folklore. These books teach children about how our Moon is ever-changing. At the same time children learn about different cultures and beliefs as well as values like compassion and friendship.
|Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me
by Eric Carle
Eric Carle is always a wonderful visual experience and this book is no exception. Monica wants to play with the Moon – how will Papa get it for her?
This book shows the ever-changing shape of the moon so it pairs well with some night-sky gazing with your children. Many of the pages fold out which is a treat.
|How The Moon Regained Her Shape
by Janet Ruth Heller
This book is based on a Native American folk story and while it manages to effectively teach about the phases of the Moon it also teaches about self-esteem.
The Moon hides when she is bullied by the Sun but with the help of her friends regains her self-confidence to shine in the night sky. BONUS: this book includes a section on teaching the science of the Moon and activities for children.
|Long Night Moon
by Cynthia Rylant
The changing shape of the Moon is fun for kids to learn but so is the myriad names and stories for each month’s Full Moon. This book features beautiful nightscapes as it takes you throughout the year in Full Moons. The text is wonderfully rhythmic and great for reading aloud.
I think this is a great book to read every month on the Full Moon.
|Kitten’s First Full Moon
by Kevin Henkes
This book follows Kitten’s attempts to capture the Moon which she mistakes for a bowl of milk.
The pictures are all in a gray theme with the bright white Moon – perfect for evoking night. The text is rhythmic and great for reading aloud.
Also check out Spanish version!
|A Cloak for the Moon
by Eric A. Kimmel
This traditional Jewish folktale takes us on a journey with Haskel the tailor to make a special cloak for the Moon. In order to find a material that will grow and shrink with the changing Moon he travels from Israel to China to the whimsical Roof of the World.
The story focuses on Haskel’s commitment to keeping his promises and has beautiful paintings reflecting the Persian and Asian settings.
|Moon Rope/Un lazo a la luna
by Lois Ehlert
Moon Rope is a Peruvian tale featuring Fox on his quest to reach the Moon.
The illustrations are cut-paper and vibrant in color which sets off the silver threads of the Moon and rope.
This book has English and Spanish in parallel (see “inside” view for an example) which is great for introducing kids to another language and for reading aloud.
|The Woman in the Moon and Other Tales of Forgotten Heroines
by James Riordan
This story about the Moon comes in an excellent collection of folktales featuring strong female characters.
The title story is about a Chippewa (Ojibwe) maiden that falls in love with the Moon.
|I Took the Moon for a Walk
by Carolyn Curtis
The highlight of this book is its lyrical prose that reads so well out loud. Follow the night walk the boy takes with the Moon. The final pages offer some facts about the Moon.
Moon Songs and Poems
Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon,
The little dog laughed to see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Go Moon Gazing
- If you live in a city, see if you can visit a park or go camping away from the light pollution. If you’ve lived your whole life in the city and never seen the country sky free from lights for miles prepare to faint with the wonder of it. I grew up in the country in Ohio where it is just beautiful but when I was in college I was in in Arches National Park in Utah and got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and nearly tripped over myself when I saw the sky. It was magnificient. There is no way I could have picked out a constellation – there were that many stars! Light pollution is a real ecological problem in my opinion. Will our children’s children have any place on Earth where they can see the sky of our ancestors? Here are a few examples:
- If you want to show off the stars go on a night when the Moon is New where you’ll be able to see the stars more brightly. If you can see the swath of stars cutting the sky that is the Milky Way. I found this fascinating as a child – a candy bar in the sky!
- If you want to see the moon start with a full (or nearly full moon). Point it out to your child and give it its name. You can do this then several times through the summer and they’ll get better and seeing that the moon changes.
Each Full Moon during they year has its own names which are a special treat. Learn more about each Moon and how it got its name at the Farmers Almanac. This Summer’s Name Moons (in Eastern US Time):
- Jun. 18, 1:30 p.m. EDT — Full Strawberry Moon. Known to every Algonquin tribe. Europeans called it the Rose Moon.
- Jul. 18, 3:59 a.m. EDT — Full Buck Moon, when the new antlers of buck deer push out from their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, thunderstorms being now most frequent. Sometimes also called the Full Hay Moon.
- Aug. 16, 5:16 p.m. EDT — Full Sturgeon Moon, when this large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water like Lake Champlain is most readily caught. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because the moon rises looking reddish through sultry haze, or the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon. There will be a Partial Lunar Eclipse that will be visible from Europe, Africa and the western two-thirds of Asia with this full moon. At its maximum 81 percent of the moon’s diameter will become immersed in the Earth’s dark umbral shadow.
I was hoping to actually make some felt Moon phase toys and show off all my pics. Er…so, yeah. Didn’t happen. So allow me to link you some super fun crafts related to the Moon.
- Phases of the Moon craft with 3 painting methods depending on age
- Paper Moon paper plate craft
- Oreo Moon Phases (and here is an oreo alternative!)
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Garden Treats — Asha at Mom Costume has once again been bitten by the gardening bug — and this time her baby’s tagging along for some fresh air and dirt exploration. (@titbagsandsnoot)
- Outdoor Free Roam — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting follows her daughter’s lead whenever they go outside. (@mamapoekie)
- Summer fun in Austin with a toddler — Jessica at This Is Worthwhile is brainstorming ways to beat the heat in Texas. (@tisworthwhile)
- summer fun… — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children is looking forward to spending the summer outside with her children the way she used to spend summers with her mother.
- Outdoor Fun for Pre-Walkers — Maman A Droit has figured out ways to let her pre-walker enjoy the outdoors. (@MamanADroit)
- Summer Homeschool Fun at Camp Review — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now discusses how Camp Review motivated and captivated her homeschooling family. (@DebChitwood)
- Digging, Tree Climbing and Puddle Jumping — Laura at Laura’s Blog bemoans the loss of her girls’ climbing tree but knows they’ll find something else just as naturally tempting.
- The Sweet Smells of Summer — Erin at A Beatnik’s Beat on Life is looking forward to the many smells of summer she and her daughters enjoy and identify. (@babybeatnik)
- June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor Fun — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker is a confirmed couch potato who can’t help but be inspired by the outdoor opportunities Seattle offers her family. (@sybilryan)
- Take a Hike — Michelle at The Parent Vortex connects with her family and the Earth on frequent hikes in their Pacific wilderness. (@TheParentVortex)
- Following Paul — Julie at Simple Life gives her kids unstructured time to dig in the dirt and pick mulberries. (@homemakerjulie)
- Instilling a Love of the Outdoors in Your Baby/Toddler — Tessasdad at Stay At Home Dad in Lansing offers a photo book of tips for helping your little ones enjoy the outdoors. (@tessasdad)
- Camping, baby! — Jen at Grow With Graces has easy tips for tent camping with a little one. (@growwithgraces)
- Think Outside the Easel for Summertime Fun — Acacia at Be Present Mama finds several ways to bring art fun to the outdoors.
- Outdoor Learning in our Urban Environment — Andrea at Ella-Bean & Co. has found ways to get grass between her daughter’s toes, even in the city.
- Outdoor Education — Alison at BluebirdMama offers parents tips and resources for making each outdoor excursion a learning experience. (@childbearing)
- Turning Inside Out — Christie of Childhood 101 finds kids get a kick out of taking indoor toys outside. (@Childhood101)
- Watching Peas Sprout — Deb at Science@home combines fun with purpose in this educational outdoor activity. (@ScienceMum)
- How To Create a Pirate Treasure Hunt & Other Easy Outdoor Pirate Activities (June Carnival of Natural Parenting) — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has pirate-themed play ideas for ye scurvy landlubbers. (@CodeNameMama)
- What We Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has managed to expose her 8-month-old to a wide variety of outdoor fun, even with the notoriously dreary UK weather. (@diaryfirstchild)
- Summer Fun — Darcel at The Mahogany Way finds her family’s visits to the beach refreshing in so many ways. (@MahoganyWayMama)
- Playing outside without a backyard — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes doesn’t let the lack of a backyard stop her family from enjoying the outdoors. There are plenty of things to do outside of your yard! (@sheryljesin)
- Having Fun
Outdoors, Playset Free — Guavalicious at They Are So Cute When They Are Sleeping has resisted a backyard playset in favor of the regular backyard. (@guavalicious)
- Moon Gazing with your Toddler — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries is keeping her toddler up at night, but it’s for a good reason: to share the wonders of the night sky! (@babydust)
- the great outdoors — The grumbles at grumbles and grunts wonders whether her urban child can experience the same free-range childhood she enjoyed. (@thegrumbles)
- Let’s Take It Outside! — NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing is looking for ideas: how can she spend time with her pre-walker outside this summer? (@BlkWmnDoBF)
- A home by the sea: June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor fun — Lauren at Hobo Mama is living her dream of a home near the beach, and taking full advantage of it. (@Hobo_Mama)
- An Outside Girl — Zoey at Good Goog moved her family to (almost) the middle of nowhere so that her outdoor-loving girl could have more grass and less concrete. (@zoeyspeak)
- Neighborhood Nature — Kelly at Kelly Naturally has learned to connect with the nature she has instead of mourning the nature she misses. (@kellynaturally)
- Building Lovely Memories of Swimming, Spiders and Gravestones — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch and her family are simply outdoorsy people. (@kitchenwitch)
- “Buh-Bye” Season — Danielle at born.in.japan must leave laundry behind and follow her son’s call to the outdoors. (@borninjp)
- Backyard Camping — Becoming Mamas took her family camping very close to home! (@becomingmamas)
- The Color of Dreams — Seeking Mother at Woman Seeking Mother makes gardening magical by teaching her son that each flower is a faery. (@seekingmother)