Wild Constellations

Wild Constellations lesson plan

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

  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.