Stargazing party for kids: Eclipse and astronomy activities for children's backyard birthday party

Here's a fun and easy end of summer party for kids. To celebrate the solar eclipse, why not host an astronomy themed backyard birthday party? Enjoy a family stargazing campout  or backyard slumber party under the night sky. Here's all you need for this simple to plan, inexpensive (darn near free) stargazer fest.

Walk the beach if you can. Sleep on the beach if possible. That's the best sky panorama. Or just sleep outside under the stars. No need for a fancy-schmancy RV. You bring the backyard or apartment deck, Mother Nature does the rest.

Pitch a tent. Don't have a tent? Borrow one or make one by hanging a tarp over a suspended rope and securing with clothespins. Stay close to home in case rain drives you indoors.

Don't have expensive camping sleeping bags? Haul out old blankets and pillows and make a tent wall to tent-wall family bed. Plan on family pets nabbing the choicest napping spots.

Have a campfire. Campfires lend the ambiance. Portable fire pits are fairly inexpensive, like $35 at Walmart. Some communities allow you to dig your own (line it with a few old cement blocks). Collect brush and burn recycled paper to clean up the environment and do a little volunteer work too.

Sing camp songs. Ultimate Camp Resource has lyrics for all the old camp songs we learned as kids (and some we'd like to forget). Focus on songs about the sky, stars and nature. Play astronomy trivia. Check for ideas.

Teach fire safety to get some learning time in. Have a bucket of sand at the ready to douse the flames and first aid kit. Discuss wildfires and caring for the environment. Show kids how to outen fires correctly.

S'mores and hot dogs are camping haute cuisine, but you can simply roast marshmallows if it's easier. Make your own roasting sticks by whittling down tree branches. (many pointed ends means more marshmallows). Teach knife safety and whittling for good survivalist-scouting lessons.

Dress warm. Summer nights can be chilly. Young children may wet the bed (or sleeping bag) if they get cold, even if potty-trained. Make sure they're bundled up. If it gets hot they can peel. Wearing long clothes means kids won't need as much bug repellent.

Have kids make stargazer survival kit (another great scout activity) Pack in waterproof container:
flashlight, cheap notebook (to draw stars, constellations, night sky), water bottle, midnight snack, field glasses, portable telescopes, cuddle toy (just in case) and umbrella. Allow nothing digital except a camera to take pictures (no texting, movies, TV, games).

Print an interactive night sky map from Your Sky that you can personalize for day and area. Here are free printable star charts, night sky maps and constellation maps. Here's a kids astronomy activities link with printables. Help kids track stars and learn the names of the constellations they're seeing. Provide notebooks and pencils and let them draw stars and constellations.


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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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