Ready for the solar eclipse? Here’s how to make it exciting for kids of all ages


The upcoming solar eclipse on April 8 presents an exciting opportunity for families to transform this rare event into a truly enriching experience for their children. As the VP of Education at Galileo Learning and a mother of two myself, I’m passionate about helping children build their creative confidence and abilities to bring their unique ideas to life, and this astronomical event provides the perfect moment to do just that. 

At Galileo we use hands-on STEAM activities (and collaborative games) as jumping off points to help kids develop as innovators who can envision and create a better world. We integrate our 3-part framework, the Galileo Innovation Approach, into every experience by (1) providing substantive knowledge that guides breakthrough thinking, (2) nurturing a mindset that promotes innovative work and (3) practicing a process that supports bringing the best ideas to fruition, all to ensure that kids are not only consumers of information but also creators. 

Here are some ways to leverage the upcoming phenomenon with solar eclipse activities to help your kids explore the wonders of science—while building the critical creative problem solving skills that they’ll need to thrive.

The solar eclipse can be fun for kids of all ages

In order to develop your own ideas it usually helps to know something about the subject at hand, so grown-ups can start by sharing the fascinating science behind the eclipse with their kids. Use books, multimedia web pages or visit a planetarium or science museum (in person or online) to explore the basic scientific concepts and facts in an age-appropriate manner. You may also want to include stories and interpretations of the phenomena from the human experience through time and across cultures. But don’t feel that you have to know everything to get started. Modeling curiosity and then the processes by which you can go about building knowledge can inspire children to embrace scientific inquiry and make the experience truly collaborative. 

From there, find a hands-on project that sounds interesting, fits your timeframe (and supply closet!) and relates to your newfound knowledge. Whether it’s crafting models of the solar system, creating shadow art, making sun prints or conducting simple experiments with light and shadow, there is no shortage of ideas out there to experience and explore the eclipse. Some great places to look for eclipse activities include Scholastic’s blog, Sky & Telescope’s resources and ASU’s project collection. These activities are valuable as written and with a little bit of effort and ingenuity you can also use them as springboards for innovation. 

The key to transforming any step-by-step project into a creative opportunity is to incorporate designable elements that make the activity more open-ended so that children can experiment and innovate. 

Have children try multiple ways to solve a problem, create more than one project to compare and contrast or envision a way to add their unique flair.  

Additionally, you can think about how kids might practice using at least one element of the Innovator’s Mindset (being visionary, courageous, collaborative, determined or reflective) and use an iterative Innovator’s process, enabling them to set goals, generate ideas, design, and create their project and then test it, evaluating and redesigning as needed until it meets their goals. 

With these additions, you can empower your children to tinker with ideas, fostering skills like critical thinking, iterative problem-solving, and determination—essential tools for success in the ever-changing world ahead. Through these experiences, children not only learn about the wonders of the universe but also develop the confidence and skills needed to navigate it with creativity and ingenuity.

Solar eclipse activities for kids and future innovators

Make your own eclipse glasses

Take, for instance, crafting eclipse paper glasses inspired by a project from Sky and Telescope. To transform this from a simple craft activity into something that builds innovation skills, start by picking an appropriate mindset element, say being visionary—and encourage your child to imagine an eclipse mask that has never existed. Brainstorm a number of different ideas for their mask by coming up with a list of symbols, characters, or objects (perhaps even exploring the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Ways of Knowing: Eclipses Around the World for inspiration) and then a list of favorite colors, styles or genres. 

Mix and match these ideas—a rainbow dragon, a Manga scientist, a shiny flower, etc.—until they have something they’re excited about. Then it’s time to design and create. Support them to start by sketching their idea on the paper plate lightly in pencil so they can evaluate what they’ve drawn, redesigning as needed until the sketch matches their vision. As they work, engage in a dialog that elicits details about what they are imagining and the different ways they might bring their vision to life. This supports helping them solidify their idea and work with purpose and conviction.

DIY pinhole camera

Alternatively, for a pinhole camera activity, you can again look for a hook to make the project more open-ended and designable. One idea could be to explore multiple ways of making pinhole cameras by using differently shaped objects—from regular boxes to cylinders (oatmeal containers, aluminum cans) to any type of found object (a colander, slotted spoon, even a mesh made with two hands/your fingers). For this you might choose to have them practice the mindset of being courageous (trying things that you’re not sure will work) or determined (sticking with designs until you can make them work) and again work through the iterative process outlined above to explore what works best. Exploring activities in this manner makes the process just as, if not more, important than the product.

Using the eclipse as a springboard for a fun ultimate family adventure

By leveraging the Galileo Innovation Approach, parents can provide their children with the necessary knowledge, mindset and process to turn the eclipse into an engaging educational adventure. By marking the event with a creative design project, the experience can become a gateway to exploration, imagination and innovation. As we look to the skies on April 8th, let us seize this opportunity to inspire kids to wonder and create.

To delve deeper into this type of learning, Camp Galileo provides 6 unique weeks of summer day camp for rising K-10th grade children centered around innovation, friendship and fun. We even have two programs featuring space, “Mission to the Moon” for kindergarten and first graders and “Outer Space Odyssey” for second and third graders. To learn more about our program and find a location near you, visit us at galileo-camps.com.

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