Pop quiz! What is the best season to star-gaze? No, not summer, but WINTER! The freezing cold air, if you have any where you live, makes for super-clear skies free of moisture and its attendant pollution. Think about it. When do most cities issue air-quality alerts? Good, you got that question.
Besides, star-gazing in winter encourages us to get outside for fresh air when we're wanting to the least. The days are shorter so you don't have to keep the kids up nearly as late to see stars as you would have to in summer. And it's kind of a hoot to be walking around in the dark bundled up like polar bears!
So along comes one of the Queens of homeschooling helps, Barb the Harmony Arts Mom , with her Winter Wednesdays to give us lots of nature study in a season when we least expected it.
We are following Ambleside Online's Year 3 schedule, and have been enjoying Charles Kingley's The Heroes (which you can read here free online) about some of the human (or part-god, part-human) heroes from Greek myth such as the stories of Perseus,and Jason and the Golden Fleece. Once again, I am surprised and delighted at MeiWei's enthusiasm for this book after just a couple of readings.
To expand on her learning, we have added some casual study of the constellations that correlate with the characters read.
The Dover coloring book, Constellations of the Night Sky by Bruce LaFontaine has many outline drawings both illustrating scenes such as Perseus with Medusa along with drawings of the constellations that would be found in the night sky.
I have Mei color while I read, then if it's a constellation, she places star stickers where the stars would be--indicated on the coloring page--in various sizes associated with the magnitude of those stars. Some of the more important stars she labels such as Sirius.
We will be looking for some of theses constellations using simple locators like Klutz's laminated pocket-size pullout, "Backyard Stars". The plastic and portable size would make this a great thing to bring along to a camp-out.
Another online resurce for constellation outlines is Crayola.com's connect-the-dots coloring pages.
We always enjoy Handbook of Nature Study's "classes". The new Winter Wednesdays will encourage us to get outside even in winter, the best time of year