The solar eclipse is coming!
By now you’ve probably heard the buzz around town, as Charleston is one of the last U.S. viewing spots to see the total solar eclipse on August 21st. While my husband and I are excited, (he remembers seeing a partial solar eclipse when he was a kid in ’94), my son really has no context for this important event.
As a lover of teaching opportunities, I wanted to help my son learn some of the science of a solar eclipse, and also build up his anticipation for the event. Having a new baby in the house, however, has definitely limited my time and creativity.
Fortunately, the Space Racers Eclipse Kit came to our rescue! With these three simple ideas and their awesome kit, we were able to teach my son more about the event that was to come, and have lots of fun doing it!
1. Have a preview party to find out how a solar eclipse works
My son loves throwing parties. Sometimes, Thursday night’s dinner becomes a “party” with the simple addition of a candle. So, we decided to have a “party” when we received the Space Racers Eclipse Kit (check below for a special promo code for 10% off). The kit includes a packet with a booklet explaining how a solar eclipse works, along with a poster, mission patch, and multiple safety glasses.
After reading through the booklet, we used sports balls (my yoga ball was the sun, while my son’s soccer ball was the moon) to further model an eclipse. I think older children could really get into this concept by experimenting with distance and how far the balls need to be from each other for the “moon” to completely cover the “sun.” But my three-year-old was a little young for that so we just stuck to the basics.
Then we pulled out the popcorn and snacks. On the Space Racers website, there is an episode that explains safety tips for watching the solar eclipse that is framed in a sweet story about an underdog character winning a race. We had never watched the Space Racers show, so I was curious to see my son’s reaction.
The verdict? My son loved it! He is already planning another “party” to watch the show when his Virginia cousins come to visit and watch the eclipse.
2. Start a countdown
Time is a complex idea for my little guy. If it’s not happening “now,” it must be happening “tomorrow.” In order to help with the idea that there are several days before the solar eclipse event, we made a simple chain count down, which we displayed in our art frame. Every day when we take off a ring, we’ll talk about the solar eclipse. My hope is that this continues to reinforce the science of the solar eclipse and keeps his anticipation high.
There’s also a great digital countdown on the Space Racers website.
3. Practice safety
My son hates wearing sunglasses. He usually just wears a hat when he’s outside playing. But I know when we watch the eclipse, a hat or regular sunglasses isn’t enough to protect his eyes. Special safety glasses will be a necessity. Fortunately, the safety glasses included in the Space Racers Eclipse Kit are CE certified.
Since he’s not used to wearing glasses, we practiced. The Space Racers episode was a great reference point as they explain the importance of wearing safety glasses, but I wanted him to go through the actual motions. I searched YouTube to find solar eclipse videos, and then we watched the videos while wearing our sunglasses (the safety glasses are too dark to practice in, but we’ll be using them for the main event). This also gave me the opportunity to make sure that the glasses fit him BEFORE the solar eclipse event, so we won’t be scrambling to adjust them when it’s actually happening.
How do I know the practice was a success?
“When we see the moon in front of the sun we’ll wear the special glasses?” he asked.
“You got it, kiddo!”
There are also easy instructions for a pinhole projector in the booklet, which could be a great co-project for parents and older kids. And, it’s another safe option for viewing the solar eclipse.
That’s it! With this great kit, our whole family was able to learn more about the solar eclipse and spend some quality time together, not to mention that we had lots of fun! Now we are prepared for the actual event on August 21st!
Hurry and get 10% off of your own Space Racers Eclipse Kit with promo code Mom1 (the offer is good until August 14th).
Be sure to check out Charleston Moms Blog’s list of solar eclipse viewing parties around the area!