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Not too long ago we made planet sun catchers, and since then my kids have been slowly but surely becoming more interested in astronomy (at the preschool level of course). We checked out a book about being an astronaut and watched YouTube videos about space. Then, in a completely unrelated activity, I had a lightbulb moment and realized the marshmallows and toothpicks we were using in that activity could also be used to teach about constellations!
- Black paper (optional, but makes a nice back drop as a night sky).
- Yellow food marker (or yellow Sharpie if you don’t plan on eating them afterwards)
Marshmallow and Toothpick Constellations
This activity took about a minute to prepare. Really, I just had to draw the stars on the marshmallows. While I was drawing, I explained to my preschooler that the stars on the marshmallows represented the stars in the sky, while the toothpicks were there to help us connect the stars into pictures (“we call those pictures constellations”). We compared it to a giant dot-to-dot picture in the sky. That was a comparison he totally understood 🙂 I laid everything out on black paper to represent the night sky and we were all set for a fun preschool lesson!
Since my son is only 4, I stayed away from teaching any complicated constellations. We made the Big Dipper, but that was the extent of our “proper” constellation lesson. Instead, we decided to create our own. We made simple shapes, like squares and diamonds, and more intricate ones! This was a fun lesson on creativity as well as a basic preschool astronomy lesson (learning through play is how we like our preschool instruction to go! 🙂 )
Creating marshmallow constellations is also a great fine motor work! Piercing the marshmallows and carefully adding more toothpicks to connect them promotes the thumb and index finger to work together in a pincer grasp.
Share your Marshmallow Constellations with us on Instagram! I’d love to hear how the activity went for you and your munchkins!
Looking for more preschool astronomy lessons? Check out this DIY Constellation Project!