DIY Constellation Projector

by Meghan

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Like most preschool fascinations, I’m not entirely sure how it began.  It might have been the Star Gazing Discovery Bottles I made last month, or the fact that they are in bed before they actually appear in the sky every night.  Whatever the cause – studying stars has become the summer obsession in our house. And since they are in bed before they can see them in the night sky, we decided to create some of our own with a DIY constellation projector and printable constellation cards.

Study the stars with your preschooler! Learn how to turn your phone into a simple DIY constellation projector with our FREE printable constellation cards. Part of our Studying Stars series for Preschoolers. | Preschool | STEAM | STEM | Kids Activities | Stars | Space | For Kids | Learning through Play |


Printable Constellation Cards & Projector

While our study of the stars started with books about stars for kids, nothing can replace the learning experience of hands-on play. So after reading to learn the stories behind the constellations, the girls were ecstatic about recreating some to shine on the walls!

The Stories Behind Constellations

First, we read a few stories about constellations appropriate for preschoolers.  I especially love Glow in the Dark Constellations – mostly because I remember it from my own childhood.  And of course the girls loved it because the constellation formations actually glow in the dark, making it a fun bedtime experience!


DIY Constellation Projector Supplies

To project your own constellations, you only need a few simple supplies.

Constellation Cards-1

Supplies

PGPB Printable Constellation Cards
Light source: Smart Phone, Flash Light
Push pins

Toilet paper roll
Tape
Styrofoam or cardboard

Cost: Free to less than $5
Prep Time: Less than 5 minutes
Clean-Up Time: Less than 5 minutes

With the benefit of a little trial and error, I quickly discovered that using my iPhone as the flash light worked much better than a cheap flash light.  You want your light source to have as concentrated a beam as possible, also known as collimated light, so it remains focused points of light when projected through your constellation cards.  Otherwise, you get more dispersed light with halos instead of concentrated points of light.

Constellation Cards-8

Grab your FREE printable constellation projection cards from our Printables store at the end of this post.

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Projecting Constellations

To project your own constellations, first print out the printable constellation cards.  I recommend printing them on cardstock.  It will hold up better to manipulation by little hands and block light better for projecting as well. Next, place the print out on top of a piece of Styrofoam or cardboard to protect your working surface.  Then, give your child a push pin and instruct them to poke holes at each dot in the constellation formations.

Constellation Cards-4

This was a great fine motor skill challenge for both girls! Yes, even my 2 year old could do it… love that little look of concentration!

Constellation Cards-5

Once your holes are punched, cut out the circle cards and affix them with tape to the top of a toilet paper roll.

Constellation Cards-6

Last, tape the toilet paper roll to your light source and project your constellation formations on the wall. We did ours in the dining room where we have dark walls for the greatest effect!

Constellation Project Cards Collage

Which constellation is your favorite?

Constellation Cards-12

Make Your Own Constellations

For some added fun, the girls wanted to create their own star formations.  You can also get a blank template for your kids to design their own constellations too!  Draw your formation, then follow same directions above.

Constellation Cards-11

Get Your FREE Printable Constellation Projection Cards

Click below to add the Printable Constellation Projection Cards to your cart. Complete the checkout process, and on the order confirmation page, click the link to instantly download your free printable.


Are your kids fascinated by the stars? If you enjoyed this post, be sure to save your printable constellation cards and DIY projector set-up, because you will need it for the next activities in the series coming up next week: Glow in the Dark Constellation Cards!  You can follow along with our Studying the Stars series here. You might also enjoy our other STEAM activities for kids, including the Architecture and Engineering for Kids series and Art History for Preschool activities.

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Study the stars with your preschooler! Learn how to turn your phone into a simple DIY constellation projector with our FREE printable constellation cards. Part of our Studying Stars series for Preschoolers. | Preschool | STEAM | STEM | Kids Activities | Stars | Space | For Kids | Learning through Play |

 

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43 comments

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43 comments

Lauri McDonald July 15, 2019 - 1:14 pm

As a high school astronomy teacher, I love this activity and how I can use it with my own littles as I start to teach them about space! We used a paper cup and just punched holes in the bottom, which made it easier than the tp tube, I think.

Also, just wanted to point out that when projected, these show up as mirror images, so not the same pattern as they actually see in the sky. Might want to consider flipping the images on the template so that they will be projected in the correct pattern! You also could add the big dipper since that is one we can easily see, even in big cities with lots of light pollution.

Reply
Meghan September 24, 2019 - 8:44 am

Great tips! Thank you!

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Nancy Campbell May 2, 2018 - 9:19 pm

I am also in Canada, my daughter is doing a project and we would love a copy of the constellation cut outs. Could you possibly share them with me?

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Pinakini April 8, 2018 - 3:17 pm

Hi Meghan,
I am Canadian Montessori Teacher, and came across your website while searching ideas for my Solar System Themed week Circle time. I love your idea and would love it if you can email me the printables on [email protected] also loved your what makes night project. It looks so easy to explain a complex idea. Its the perfect example of abstract to reality concept exploration activity.
Keep up the great work!

Reply
Meghan April 9, 2018 - 2:13 pm

Thank you! I’m emailing it your way now… someday I’ll figure out a way to make them available outside the US.

Reply
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sally.samuel November 3, 2017 - 11:05 am

Hi there Meghan!

I desperately need your help. I am running a Galaxy-themed library program for homeschoolers and their parents on Monday, and it has been advertised that we will be creating constellation projectors. Your printables are the absolute best I can find for this project. But because I am Canadian and don’t have an American credit card, I can’t complete the checkout process to download them OR even subscribe to the newsletter. What’s more, even though I’ve subscribed to Playground Parkbench on two different emails, it’s not the newsletter that has the password to the free printables section.

Is there *any* way that you would be able to email me the link/PDF to this DIY Constellation Projector (to [email protected]) this weekend? Or by any other way? I would be unbelievably grateful to you if you could! This would help me prepare for this program so much!!

Thank you so much for reading this – and hoping to hear from you soon,

Sally Samuel

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Meghan November 3, 2017 - 2:51 pm

Hi Sally, thank you for your interest. Only my old printables appear on the password protected printables page – all the rest – like this constellation page – have been uploaded to my store. It is only open to US users due to security, compliance and tax issues, but I would be happy to email you the file at the address you provided. Best, Meghan

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Erika Anderson March 8, 2018 - 2:42 pm

Hi Sally,

I also am a Canadian, and this activity fits perfectly into our grade 6 Sky Science Unit. If you could email me a copy at [email protected] I would be very grateful. Thanks!

-Erika

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Meghan March 12, 2018 - 4:54 pm

Hi Erika, sending your way now. I apologies – my store is only set up for US users due to VAT and compliance issues in other countries. I can’t figure out a way to get it to only applied to paid product 🙁 – Meghan

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Adria July 17, 2017 - 8:23 am

Thank you. Look forward to using this with my little ones!

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Amanda Ripsam May 13, 2017 - 5:42 pm

My 10 year old says it very cool and ask if we could make it. I found you via Pinterest

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Meghan May 15, 2017 - 8:19 am

I hope y’all had fun with it!

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lilywulily July 9, 2016 - 10:06 pm

HI
PLEASE TELL ME HOE TO DOWNLOAD THE FILE ,PLEASE, THANKYOU

Reply
Meghan July 10, 2016 - 9:45 am

Hi… all my printables are available to my newsletter subscribers from a password protected landing page. Once you subscribe and confirm your subscription, you will receive a link to the page and the password. Posts are listed in alphabetical order, so this will appear under D for DIY Constellation Projector. There will be an image from the post, a link to the post and a link to the printable labeled “Printable”.

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Maxynne Marr June 28, 2016 - 7:01 pm

I have looked everywhere I can think of. Where are the printables? I would like to use this project but am artistically challenged(LOL) which makes creating my own a bit of a deal breaker.

Maxynne Marr

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Maxynne Marr June 28, 2016 - 7:07 pm

I,m sorry. I found my mistake reading some of the other comments. Obviously something I should have done FIRST. LOL Thanks for a great site and resources. Again, my apologies for bellering before I was bit.

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Meghan June 29, 2016 - 9:55 am

No problem Maxynne! If you have any trouble finding/downloading them, please let me know! It’s on my to do list to add another page as well, for the winter sky, but with all the kids home for summer, I haven’t seemed to get to it yet. I will let everyone know once it is added too.

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Cis July 8, 2016 - 3:20 pm

Two of our grandsons are coming to visit this Thursday. This would be a PERFECT Grandma & Me Adventure! I hope you can post the link before then! Thanks.

Reply
Meghan July 8, 2016 - 4:12 pm

Hi Cis! I haven’t made the additional pages yet, but the Summer Sky set is up and available to subscribers on the printables page. Hope y’all have fun with it!

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Christina June 24, 2016 - 9:59 am

Love this! We have made up our own constellations to put in front of the flashlight, but this way we can look at ones that really exist. Can’t wait to show the kids.

Pinned.

Reply
Meghan June 24, 2016 - 12:50 pm

So glad you like it! I need to make more to add to the printable – right now it’s only the summer sky, and the constellations my girls picked out as liking the most. A few more to come once I work through my current to do list. 🙂

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Dean June 22, 2016 - 5:31 pm

Download link?

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Meghan June 23, 2016 - 7:47 am

Hi Dean… all my printables are available to my newsletter subscribers from a password protected landing page. Once you subscribe and confirm your subscription, you will receive a link to the page and the password. Posts are listed in alphabetical order, so this will appear under D for DIY Constellation Projector. There will be an image from the post, a link to the post and a link to the printable labeled “Printable”.

Reply
Shelley June 22, 2016 - 12:50 am

Love the idea but I can’t seem to find the link for the printable constellation cards?

Reply
Meghan June 23, 2016 - 7:47 am

Hi Shelley… all my printables are available to my newsletter subscribers from a password protected landing page. Once you subscribe and confirm your subscription, you will receive a link to the page and the password. Posts are listed in alphabetical order, so this will appear under D for DIY Constellation Projector. There will be an image from the post, a link to the post and a link to the printable labeled “Printable”.

Reply
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Sunsiree April 26, 2018 - 3:49 am

Very interesting ideas! I am having an event in my church Stargazing event and it is perfrct crafts with our children. Thanks for sharing it! Could you please email me at [email protected] the printable or download version?

Many thanks!

Reply
Meghan April 26, 2018 - 7:15 am

Hi – you can download it directly through my printables store. Have a great event this weekend!

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