Navigating the Night Sky:
Planetarium show for Middle School Children
Pre-Show Activity 1


Grade Level
Materials Background

Astronomy provides practice in those skill that are prerequisite to the scientists of tomorrow: observation, graphing, recording, and predicting. Basic to many astronomical observations are the North Polar Constellations. The following activities provide our young scientists with success-oriented practice in locating and recognizing these stars in the sky.

The purpose of the following activities is to strengthen the skills of visual perception, observation, and recording by using repetition of visual bulletin board displays of the North Polar Constellations and graphing those star patterns.

  1. Using Christmas lights, fluorescent markers or paint, mark the stars of Ursa Major on a bulletin board. Use string or chalk to draw the lines to connect the stars to form the constellation figure as you tell the story of the constellation (classical and Native American versions are available through your librarian). Repeat this procedure for Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, and Cassiopeia.
  2. se the following web site to familiarize you and your students to the features, star brightness, and location in the sky of the North Polar Constellations: "".
  3. After familiarizing students with the North Polar Constellations, use graph paper and coordinates to make the star patterns of each constellation.
  4. Have students transfer the star patterns onto white drawing paper and draw their own versions of the North Polar Constellations.
  5. Dot size can represent light intensity on the drawing paper.
Follow Up
Challenge students to find these constellations on their planetarium trip.
AskERIC lesson plan #AELP-AST0004
Author: Bonnie Frazier
Date: May 1994
© 1999 University of Washington
Revised: 9 August, 2000