The Great American Solar Eclipse 2017

The Great American Solar Eclipse 2017


I have to admit, as cool as the eclipse was, I’m glad the mania is over. I can’t begin to count the number of Facebook posts from people searching for the special glasses. And in only 7 short years, we can post the same posts all over again. πŸ˜‰

Seriously though, my kids really enjoyed it and I’m glad we got to experience it together.

We started out the day with the usual work: math, handwriting, and language arts. (I’m embarrassed to admit that our Morning Time has gone out the window this week and last.) Once that was done, we got to move on to, in my opinion, the fun stuff. πŸ™‚

I first wanted to start out by introducing the girls to the vocabulary of the subject. I wanted them to be able to understand the terminology being used. I had them copy some of the words and definitions down in their science journals. (This idea for our science journals was inspired by Charlotte Mason notebooks. I’ll talk about it in another post.) As you can see in the picture, Rosie had a lot of fun using her artist’s pencils to liven it up.

After the vocabulary was covered, we moved on to our first activity. I wanted to help the girls, Ladybug especially because this was her first time studying this topic, understand how the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon all compare in size. In the science journals, I had the girls start out by making a table with 3 columns: ‘What I KNOW’, ‘What I WANT to Know’, and ‘What I LEARNED’.

Next, I had them think about what they knew about the sizes of the 3 celestial bodies and write that down in the first column. Then we talked about what they didn’t know that they would like to learn. I had them write that down in the second column: ‘What I WANT to Know’. Then we got to the activity.

one 10-inch paper plate
1 peppercorn
1 super sharpened pencil
glue, or glue dots (if you have scrapbooking supplies out the…you know what)

I instructed the girls that the paper plate represented the sun. (I gave them the option for decorating, but they declined.)

Then we added a glue dot to each plate and placed our pink peppercorn on them. This is a good ratio of the size of the Earth compared to the size of the Sun. The Sun is 400 times larger than the Earth.

Next, with your super sharpened pencil, put a dot next to your peppercorn. This is the Moon. The Moon is a quarter of the size of the Earth, with the Sun being 1,600 times larger than the Moon.

I had the girls write these crazy interesting facts on the backs of their plates after labeling the fronts.

Naturally, this led Ladybug to ask “But how does the Sun get blocked out by the Moon if it’s so much smaller?”. I was ecstatic because that was my next activity, showing how this was possible! Don’t you just love when this sort of thing happens?

I bought an inflatable globe earlier this summer that we used for the next activity. I grabbed a flashlight and a smaller ball (about the size of a ping-pong ball). I set Ladybug up as the Sun with the flashlight (so she would be able to see better what was going on) and Rosie as the Earth holding our “globe”. I played to role of the Moon and showed her how the eclipse was possible. Then the girls switched places to get a different perspective.

The time was rapidly approaching for the start of the eclipse, so Ladybug made a pinhole viewer, I grabbed some snacks, and Rosie grabbed the glasses and her pinhole viewer. Then we headed to the garage to get out little Solar Eclipse Party set up. (In case anyone was counting and noticing I was short one kid, Little Man was taking a nap. πŸ™‚ )

Our pinhole viewers worked ok but the colander we brought out was fantastic!

Not to mention, the solar eclipse glasses gave us an unbeatable view.

We also brought the tablet out to listen in on the live coverage from our local news channel. (They sent 2 meteorologists to the mountains and to South Carolina to see the total eclipse.)

It was pretty cool. The girls would look with the glasses, ask what time it was, and log that in their observation tables in their science journals.

After the height of the eclipse, they logged a couple more observations then we went inside to escape the insufferable gnats. (They were terrible!!!)

At the height of the eclipse. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but it was noticeably darker outside.

We then watched some of CNN’s coverage on the ecilpse and got to see the interview they did with the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. That was pretty awesome and it took the girls a bit to understand that the astronauts were in space at that very moment aboard the Space Station. It was neat watching Rosie’s face as that knowledge sank in.

After we were finished watching the coverage, I showed the girls maps I found that laid out future eclipses over North America. They then calculated how long it was until each of the next future eclipses and how old they will be when those occur.

We didn’t get to the last activity I wanted to do because I haven’t bought the shirts yet, but later this week we are going to make eclipse t-shirts! I found the idea for the shirts over at

The girls enjoyed this so much that they were already planning to travel to see the next one in 2024! πŸ™‚Β 

What about you? Did you guys travel or do anything special to celebrate the eclipse? I’d love to see any pictures you’d like to share!

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