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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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Reged: 10/23/09

Loc: Beneath the arms of Cassiopeia
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: John Lacey]
      #5737421 - 03/16/13 09:45 PM

This book did it for me when I was in first grade. Looking at it now still evokes feelings of wonder.

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kansas skies

Reged: 12/02/12

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: John Kuraoka]
      #5737876 - 03/17/13 01:21 AM


The most-important thing to give her? Your time.

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement.

My granddaughter is not quite three, but she loves taking a few minutes to go out with me and look at the night sky. She tends to be a little intimidated by the dark, so she stays close. Still, she seems to really enjoy a little time under the stars as grandpa points out a planet or a star or two. Mainly, I try not to get carried away. She also seems to take delight in watching "Luna" go through her phases.

I think it's most important to include the little ones in this activity that we find important. They probably won't grow up to be astronomers, but you can bet they will remember to look up once in awhile. And when they do, they'll probably be thinking about you as well.

I would think that maybe a mobile of the solar system that you can explain while helping her to assemble might be nice.


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John Kuraoka

Reged: 12/12/12

Loc: Sunny San Diego, CA
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: kansas skies]
      #5738385 - 03/17/13 10:51 AM

Bill has a great suggestion with the solar system mobile. I put these up in my son's room when he was oh, about in Kindergarten.

One set finally died after many years (the plastic deteriorated), and even at that later age he wanted another so he's on his second set. He's nearly 13 now, and I think he still gets a kick out of them.

What's fun, is explaing that they're totally NOT sized to scale. You can lay them out at scale distances though, and (if the parents let you) give her a choice of placing them at scale distances - which means most of the planets are out in the hallway or in other rooms - or in her room. My son chose to have them all in his room, the falsehood of which, I think, is part of why he still likes them. At this point, it's ironic. So there's something to enjoy about these at all ages!

The glow is pretty good, too. When he was little I used to occasionally use a small LED flashlight to put a smiley face on Jupiter right before turning out the lights for bed.

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John Kuraoka

Reged: 12/12/12

Loc: Sunny San Diego, CA
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: John Kuraoka]
      #5738405 - 03/17/13 11:07 AM

My other son has a ton of these things on his bedroom ceiling. They were put there by a previous occupant of our house.

They must be nearly 20 years old now, and they're still up there glowing. I don't think they were put up to match the actual night sky. But there are enough of them that I sometimes I still make constellations for him by drawing them star-to-star with a flashlight.

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Eyepiece Hooligan

Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: torsinadoc]
      #5738441 - 03/17/13 11:49 AM

Get her these:

(Water proof, rugged and durable, affordable, useful for bright object astronomy and for terrestrial viewing, smaller scale for smaller hands, etc.)

I keep a pair of these in my day pack for opportunistic nature viewing and have used them for the moon and bright planets and the Pleiades. They aren't 7x50s, but they are better than the naked eye.

More importantly, whether the astronomy bug actually bites her in the end or not, these have general utility for other interests (sporting events, bird watching, spying on siblings, etc.).

I'm in the minority, perhaps, but I don't think our hobby is conducive to being "coached into". How many of you required an adult to cultivate your interest as a child? Not me. Rather I think the Universe tends to select you as one of its observers, or not. The love of the night sky is best kindled by seeing and doing, not be being told what or how to see and do. Answer questions, ask about what she's seen and learned, but don't force it.



Edited by jrbarnett (03/17/13 11:56 AM)

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Carpal Tunnel

Reged: 12/13/12

Loc: Dunmore, PA
Re: What to get a 1st grader new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5740157 - 03/18/13 06:56 AM

My daughter is a first grader. She took an interest in Astronomy about 2 years ago. I bought her some glow in the dark planets that hang above her bed which sparked more interest.
We read books and I have taken her to our local astronomy club which she enjoys more than anything. Not to say she won't come outside and observe but first graders aren't going to spend hours viewing like adults will. She will look around with her Orion sky scanner or binoculars and then play around with something else.

So I think Jim is correct in saying it can be tough to coach small kids. My daughter likes her binoculars and they certainly aren't top quality. I would get a small size for kids since larger will no doubt not get much use with weight.

She also enjoys this book and it may be a good place to start.

Also the sky scanner reflector or something similar is a great way for kids to start. I would read the article below about three low cost scopes. It started our family into the depths or telescope purchases.


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