Earth Hour is a great opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of looking after our planet by joining the hundreds of millions of people all around the world who are turning off their lights for an hour. To make the event even more exciting Essential Kids have put together the top fun things to do with your kids in the dark.
Star finder activity
If the night sky is clear a great way to spend Earth Hour is under the stars. Print-off the Sydney Observatory’s monthly star chart and see if you can help the kids find the five listed constellations.
Canis Major, also known as the Great Dog, is the brightest star in the sky. Its name comes from the Greek word for scorching and if you look to the northwest you will be able to see him shining brightly in the night sky. Click here to see a dot-to-dot of the Great Dog.
Orion, also known as the Hunter, is one of the most famous constellations. Named after the mythological son of Poseidon the sea god, and Euryale the daughter of King Minos of Crete, legend tells us that he was the tallest and handsomest of men. The stars Betelgeuse and Rigel mark Orion’s right arm and left foot, while a distinctive line of three stars form his belt. His dog, the Canis Major follows closely at his heels. Click here to see a dot-to-dot of Orion.
Gemini, also known as the Twins, will be shining north of Canis Major. The two brightest stars in the constellation are named after the twins, Castor and Pollux from Greek mythology. Legend tells us that when Pollux learned of his mortal brother’s death he begged his father, Zeus, to give Castor immortality. Zeus granted Pollux’s pleas by uniting them together forever in the heavens. Click here to see a dot-to-dot of Gemini.
Leo, also known as the Lion, contains many bright stars, the brightest being Regulus that stands at the Lion’s breast. In Greek mythology Leo was identified as the fierce two-mouthed Nemean Lion which was killed by Hercules and then put into the night sky. You will find Leo northeast of Canis Major. Click here to see a dot-to-dot of Leo.
Crux, also known as the Southern Cross, had previously been identified by the ancient Greeks as the hind legs of the Centaur constellation. It wasn’t until the end of the 16th century that it was identified as its own constellation. If you look to the southeast of Canis Major you will find the Crux. Click here to see a dot-to-dot of the Crux.
If you have an iPhone or iPad you can download some great apps to help you locate even more stars, constellations and planets. We recommend Star Chart available from iTunes for $2.99 and Planets available for free from iTunes.
Murder in the Dark
Gather the family up for a good old fashioned game of Murder in the Dark. There are a lot of different versions of the game but if you don't know any from memory here is our how-to. To start you need to write down on a piece of paper murderer and detective, and suspect for however many other players you have. Let everyone select a piece of paper from the pile but make sure you keep it a secret.
Then all the players go around the house or backyard to hide. The aim of the game is for the murderer to collect as many victims as they can before they are caught by the detective. To murder your victim simply tap the other players on the shoulder when you find them.
If a suspect is killed they fall to the ground and wait to be found by the detective who screams “Murder in the dark!” If the detective thinks they know who the murderer is he yells out the name of the player but he only gets one guess per game and if he guesses wrong the game is over and the murderer wins.
But if the detective gets killed before he makes his guess he screams “Detective murdered!” The lights are then turned back on and the detective then gets to have his one guess.
String a white sheet up in the doorway and set up a torch on one side of the sheet. One person is “in” while the rest of the players line up behind the sheet and cast their shadow as they dance in the light behind the sheet. The person who is “in” must then try to guess who each shadow belongs to. But the players are able to disguise their shadow to make it trickier. If the player guesses correctly you must reveal yourself and sit out of the game until they have guessed everyone correctly or they forfeit and the shadows win.
Gather everyday items from around the house like saucepans, toilet rolls, brushes, pegs and cushions that you could use to cast a shadow with. Grab a torch and sit near a blank wall with the kids. On a piece of paper write down a shadow challenge list and include animals, insects, plants or anything else you think you can make into a shadow puppet.
Everyone takes a turn picking from the list and holding the items together to make a shadow of their choice. They can also use their hands or their bodies if it is easier. Get as creative as you can. Then everyone else must try and guess what the shadow puppet is. Whoever guesses correctly takes the next turn.
Get everyone outside and choose one player to be “it”. They are assigned the torch and must count to twenty while the other players hide. When they finish counting it is their job to try and find the remaining players using the torch. When they find someone they yell “Spotlight!”, until all the players have been found. The first person to be found is the finder in the next game and whoever is found last gets a 5 second head start on the other players in the next game.
Sit in a circle with a torch in the middle. To start the game someone takes a turn spinning the torch and whoever it lands on gets to choose a person from the circle to start a story. The winner must also choose a word that the storyteller must use in their story at least five times.
Once they tell their story it is their turn to spin the torch and whoever the torch lands on next must continue the first person’s story but are given a new word to use. If the torch lands on you when you spin it you can choose a new story to tell using your own word. The fun of the game is only limited by your imagination.
To play this game you will need a kitchen timer. One player sets the timer to five minutes and hides it somewhere in the house. It is up to the rest of the players to find it before the timer goes off.
If you find the timer in time you have won the game and are the next timer hider. If no one finds the timer the game starts again and the timer is hidden in another place and reset. Can you beat the clock?
Do you have any other fun games to play in the dark? Share with other members on the Essential Kids' Forums.