Summer vacation is finally here and the kids are staying up later. Whether you are out camping this summer or sitting around a campfire, staying up late becomes second nature. If your kiddos are anything like mine they may go to bed later but they’re still waking up at 6am. Mornings aside though, summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy all that Northern Michigan has to offer including stargazing!
My kids love staying up late during the summer months and hate going to bed while it’s still light outside. Last summer we tried to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights from Magnus Park but it just never happened. Stargazing is another popular activity that they love staying up for. We live out of town away from the city’s lights so it’s a great place to stargaze and point out all the constellations.
Stargazing Tips for Kids
- Check the weather forecast. I know, this one may seem like a no brainer but honestly it’s better to be safe than sorry especially if you’re driving to the stargazing location. Plus, as we all know Michigan weather tends to be a little bit unpredictable! I rely on Accuweather for it’s radar and 3 day forecast. Nothing is worse than planning a star filled evening with an overcast sky. I also keep a blanket and extra sweatshirts in the back of my car as you just never know when they will come in handy!
- Take a nap. Ok, this one is easier said than done. I totally get it and my kids are older so they don’t have trouble staying up later than usual. Depending on what time you’ll be stargazing though, you may want your little one to rest up a bit prior to dinner so s/he is able to stay up with you.
- Grab your tablet or phone. Last summer we took the kids to the Michigan Science Center in Detroit and watched a cool interactive piece on constellations in their planetarium. It taught us all the constellations and their names. If you haven’t been don’t fret, today’s technology allows us to download apps such as Star Walk and The Exporium – Space Walk for Kids. Both are filled with information and as well as interactive stargazing!
- Be prepared. We are pretty low tech when it comes to stargazing but binoculars work great for beginners. If your kiddo expresses more interest, you can always move on to a telescope.
- Bring snacks. Again, probably a no brainer and maybe it’s just my kids but no matter where we go and what we’re up too, I always have snacks and bottled water on hand. My youngest is the child asking for a snack while eating her dinner so I like to be prepared!
- Take a Roadtrip. If you live in the city the night lights will drown out any stars and constellations. Find a spot outside of town where you can view the night sky in darkness. If you’re up for a short drive, the Headlands International Dark Sky Park outside of Mackinac City is the perfect place to view the night sky without any interruption.
- Get the kids excited! I’ve put together a list of constellation treats and activities below that you can do with the kids prior to stargazing.
Stargazing Activities and Treat Ideas
- Constellation Fruit Gummies from Left Brain Craft Brain – So cute and super easy even for your kids!
- Edible Constellations from Mrs. Plemons Kindergarten – Another easy and edible constellation treat for kids to work on.
- Constellation Cupcakes from Pieces by Polly – Have the kids help make these yummy cupcakes and then take as a treat while stargazing!
- Solar System Worksheets from Itsy Bity Fun – Get ready to stargaze AND prevent summer slide at the same time with these free worksheets!
- Eat The Solar System from Creative Kid Snacks – How creative is this?!