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Wild Constellations

Use Crayola® Oil Pastels to make stenciled skies with stellar effects.

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Study the constellations and how, when, and where they can be viewed in the night sky in the area. Visit a local planetarium or have an expert visit the classroom to talk about the earth's rotation and its effect on how constellations are viewed.
    2. Start constellation stencil-making by folding a 4 1/2" X 6" (12 x 15 cm) sheet of white paper in half. Fold can be horizontal or vertical.
    3. Cut an unbroken geometric or irregular shape from the center of folded paper, beginning on the side with the crease. Leave an unbroken paper border at least 1/2" (1 cm) wide around the shape.
    4. Open paper to reveal a stencil. Keep the cutout (positive) shape as well.
    5. Place stencil over a large sheet of construction paper.
    6. Draw around perimeter of the stencil window with oil pastels.
    7. Hold the stencil firmly down on top of a drawing paper with one hand while using the other hand to rub the oil pastel off the stencil onto the paper below. This creates soft wisps of color.
    8. Develop outward-facing wisps by drawing around the edges of the cutout (or positive) shape, then rubbing the oil pastel outward from the stencil.
    9. Move the stencil around the paper and repeat process. Apply different colors around the stencils to extend design possibilities.
  • Standards

    LA: Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

    LA: With prompting and support, read informational texts appropriately complex for grade level.

    LA: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

    LA: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade level reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.

    LA: With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.

    LA: Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

    MATH: Reason with shapes and their attributes.

    SCI: Use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Once Upon a Starry Night: A Book of Constellations by Jacqueline Mitton; Zoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations by Jacqueline Mitton; The Big Dipper (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Franklyn M. Branley

    Invite students to work in small groups to study in-depth a single constellation. What makes the pattern of stars interesting? How are the images (animals, Big Dipper, etc.) imagined? Students create an original night sky and a single, original constellation. What do the collection of stars represent? What will you name your constellation?

    Students working in small groups compose a poem about their constellations. How will the poem tell the story of their selected constellation? Audio-record the group reciting the poem. Attach the audio file to a digital photograph of their constellation artwork.

    Organize a field trip to a local observatory in the evening to see the stars. Prior to the trip, students brainstorm what they think they will see and learn. Afterwards, students post learning to a class blog.

    Invite a local astronomer to visit with the class and bring in a telescope. Ask the guest to focus his talk on how a telescope is used. After the visit, students post learning to a class blog or talk in small groups about what they have learned.


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