If your child is fascinated by space, he probably talks a lot about spaceships, the moon and planets. He might have heard about meteors, but they are easily confused with comets and asteroids. Meteors cause the streaks of light in the sky we see when pieces of a meteoroid are falling to the earth. Whatever doesn't vaporize in the earth's atmosphere and reaches the ground is known as meteorites. Increase your child's space knowledge by teaching him about meteors and meteorites through kid-friendly educational activities.
Read age-appropriate books with your child that teach him about meteors and meteorites. For children ages 6 and older, "Comets, Meteors and Asteroids," by Seymour Simon, introduces kids to the various types of space debris that commonly streak across the sky, discussing their differences and similarities. For children ages 10 and older, "Seven Wonders of Asteroids, Comets and Meteors," by Ron Miller, introduces kids to some of the most famous space debris, including the Perseid meteor shower.
Make small meteorites with your child by gathering up the largest rocks he can find, the more jagged, the better. Have him paint the rocks black and let them dry. Then brush black glitter glue all over the rocks to give them a sparkly shine. You can also make a meteor shower picture with your child. Give him a large piece of black construction paper and have him use white, yellow and orange chalk to create falling streaks of light, representing meteors. Draw a landscape on the bottom of the picture, such as rolling hills and a small house, or a city landscape with tall buildings and cars.
Invite your child's friends over to play games related to meteors and meteorites. Crumble black construction paper into balls to represent meteorites and hide them all over the yard. The kids can pretend to be scientists, racing to find the most amount of meteorites. You could also have the kids play a meteorite version of hot potato. Play space-themed music while the kids quickly pass a rock around the circle. Whoever is holding the meteorite when the music stops is out. The game continues until only one person is left.
Take your child to a science museum in your area. Most science museums include space exhibits with images and samples of space artifacts, including meteorites. For example, the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Houston (hmns.org) has a display of meteorites for kids to explore. Some cities have museums dedicated primarily to outer space, where kids can get a more in-depth space exploration experience. Many also have interactive children's exhibits where they can engage in hands-on space activities.
- Comets, Meteors and Asteroids; Seymour Simon
- "Seven Wonders of Asteroids, Comets and Meteors; Ron Miller
- Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images