On these days of more dark than light, time with my kiddos seems even more constrained. One evening that I allowed to feel particularly hectic, I found myself recouping on my back stoop staring at the night sky. The moon illuminated everything in a soft glow and even cast some shadows on the snow. I have always wanted to keep better track of the moon phases, have always wanted to connect with this natural pattern of time keeping.
In November fellow Nebraska Project WILD blogger posted a fantastic Moon Phases activity that I wanted to try out with my own kids. I never found the time to do the research, so it was just another of the many, many things I wanted to do that I hadn’t gotten to yet. Then I came up with this wild and crazy idea. I made my kids do the leg work, and teach me about the Moon Phases.
The very next day I came home and plopped the kids in front of the computer. Yup, that’s right. Their task was to look up information about the Moon Phases and with that information, draw a diagram. I told them if done with positive brotherly camaraderie, there would be Oreo’s involved the next evening. They looked up videos, read articles and generally cruised the net looking for this information for 30 minutes or so. While they did this I picked up the house, made supper, and felt pretty good about my mom capabilities.
The next evening after supper, I plopped an entire package of Oreo’s on the counter, proclaiming, “Make me the Moon Cycle!” Those two boys, flabbergasted by being handed so much candy from the candy police, tore into the project.
On nights when we are carrying in groceries or are shutting up the chickens, the boys call attention to the moon and contemplate, well okay they argue, back and forth with each other what phase it’s in. On these freakishly warm Nebraska evenings, the moon calls us outdoors and we take advantage. We listen to the sounds of winter and are humbled by the vastness of the night sky.
My boys did not only learn the Moon Phases. They practiced moderate and constructive electronic media time, took ownership of their own learning and were teachers to each other and to me. The information that was learned inside was taken outside and applied.
Nebraska winters are a great time to learn about the night because we have plenty of it before bedtime. Much of the learning can be done in the warmth of the indoors, then taken outside for as long as you and the kiddos are having fun. Checkout Nebraska Project WILD’s Facebook page and continue to read our blog for more Nebraska Winter night activities and ideas.
See you out there!