Fun Family Learning: Constellation Cave Tutorial

Welcome to the July 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Creations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared crafts, recipes, and philosophies of creativity. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I was so thrilled to see the Family Creations theme for this month’s Carnival of Natural Parenting because I have wanted to build a Constellation Cave for a long time. Last summer, I discovered the Play At Home Mom blog, a fantastic resource for parents of young children, and I adored the Cave of Stars idea. Since I’m a science lover, I wanted to make it a Constellation Cave to make it a little more scientifically accurate. I find the universe fascinating but I don’t know that much about stars as viewed from my own backyard, so I have made a personal goal to learn more about astronomy this summer and this project was the perfect first step.


  • large cardboard box
  • constellation chart (or create your own)
  • marker
  • screwdriver
  • string of white lights (200)

I discovered this large box from our freezer in the basement, but it was missing one side. That’s fine, I only needed three anyway!

After vacuuming off the spider webs (and spiders!) I found a map of the constellations online. I chose to use constellations from the Northern Hemisphere that are visible in the summer so they will translate into what we can actually see outside, at least in theory.

I sketched the constellations free-hand onto the box. I’m sure there’s a better way to ensure accuracy, but this was good enough for us.

I took advantage of nap time for the next part: poking holes in the cardboard. I draped the box over two chairs (this is unnecessary if you have a full box!) and then used a screwdriver with a twisting motion to poke the holes.

Next, I pushed a white light into each hole in the box. This took a long time and I was happy that it was still nap time!

It’s a good idea to plug in the lights to test that they work before starting, which I did, but I didn’t take a picture of that part.

Finally, I found a good location for our Constellation Cave. It’s currently in our family room but I plan to eventually move it upstairs to the play room. I placed a blanket and some pillows in the cave to make it more comfortable to lie down and gaze at the constellations.

Here are some neat extensions that you could do with children of different ages or interest levels.

  • Instead of finding a constellation map online, your children could map the stars they see one night in your own backyard.
  • To learn about prehistoric cave art or Native American art, it would be neat for children to add some cave paintings to the inside or outside of the box. Or draw whatever you want!
  • Older children can also research the names and myths behind the constellations and learn their stories in addition to identifying them in the night sky.
  • Brainstorm ways to include our moon or visible planets, too.

Safety Note: Be sure to supervise your children while they’re playing in the Constellation Cave and only have it plugged in when it’s actually in use. Though the newer LED lights don’t heat up, I’m still paranoid about anything that could potentially pose a fire hazard.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon July 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Garden Soup — Bailey finds a way to help momma Katy (from Muse of a Daffodil) in the garden.
  • This One Time, I Tried To Make a Car — Ashley at Domestic Chaos tries once again to make something crafty from stuff around the house.
  • Pin-tastic creative ideas — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how Pinterest is inspiring creativity in her family this summer.
  • Baby Hiccups In The Womb — Alinka at Baby Web shares one of the ways she bonds with her unborn baby.
  • Turtle Mosaics — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school and her little family spend a quiet hour making a turtle mosaic inspired by the work of Melanie Mikecz.
  • Edible Art Plus 8 Art Supply Recipes — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares some natural, chemical-free art supply alternatives, which are gauranteed to be tons of fun for children or all ages. They taste great too!
  • A surprise art lesson — Tat at Mum in search has been taking art lessons from her 5-year-old son.
  • Memory Creation — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about how her family aims to create as many memories as they can as a family.
  • A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words — Melissa at Momma Beer tries to replace cars with crafts.
  • My Creative Family: Sometimes Messy, Always Fun — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM embraces the messes that sometimes accompany creative play but admits you don’t always have to get dirty to have fun.
  • Fun Family Learning: Constellation Cave Tutorial — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter gives step-by-step instructions for building a fun new twist on a cardboard box playhouse.
  • Cooking… Kind Of — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings makes pizza with her daughter, hoping to inspire a love of cooking and encourage a bigger interest in food. As well as making mess and having lots of fun, of course!
  • Crockpot Refried BeansThat Mama Gretchen‘s family loves to experiment with new recipes, and today she’s sharing a kitchen success!
  • Creating Memories — Andrea at Tales of Goodness reflects on how the best creations can emerge from just letting kids be kids.
  • Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to add more craft and creativity into every day family life.
  • Making Fruit Leather Together — When Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work took some time to involve her children in the process of finally trying a fruit leather recipe stored on her Pinterest food board, she got more than just a scrumptious homemade snack as a result!
  • Making Glasses from Children’s Art — Mandy at Living Peacefuly with Children used her children’s artwork to make some very special glasses for her husband for Father’s Day.
  • Preparing Family Meals Together — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares how she started the tradition of creating meals together with her children, which makes family gatherings more fun.
  • It’s a trap! — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares the innovative snares her son and husband have set for her.
  • How To Make The Most Of A Very Wet Summer — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shows us the first few weeks of the Summer Camp At Home project for keeping boredom at bay.
  • Creating with… well, what do we have? — If necessity is the mother of invention, Momma Jorje thinks perhaps boredom is (or at least can be) the mother of creativity. In a pinch, she got creative with a household item to entertain herself and her toddler.
  • Creating Joy! Felt Counting Fish and other Fun — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle started creating Felt Counting Fish and then fell down the rabbit hole of fun with a number of other games.
  • I Am Going! (A Code Name: Mama Homemade Theater Production of Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie book) — This might be the finest example of child and baby acting ever recorded. Enjoy this Mo Willems treasure via video from Dionna at Code Name: Mama.
  • DIY Summer Sleep Sack for Baby Tutorial — Shannon at GrowingSlower made an organic summer sleep sack for baby, and you can too with her easy tutorial.
  • Chalk It Up! — Amy at Anktangle recounts how an impulse buy has turned into a fun collaborative activity that she hopes will continue to foster creativity in the whole family.
  • The Family Garden — Excited that her son has been a big help in the garden this year, Ana at Pandamoly shares how her garden grows and offers up some secrets on how a toddler can be a great assistant in the garden.
  • Getting my craft on — Jona at Life, Intertwined takes a trip down memory lane — and finds it in stitches.
  • Easy DIY Sandpit for Toddler Play — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her easy DIY toddler sandpit tutorial.
  • Building Without Nails — Laura at Laura’s Blog builds a swinging bar using just sticks and twine.
  • Family Talent Show — Erika at Cinco de Mommy holds an after-dinner family talent show.
  • Ar matey! Fun and Learning with Pirate Play. Positive Parenting Connection is sharing lots of really fun Pirate-themed learning activities for the whole family.

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Filed under Adventures, Fun Family Learning, Natural Learning, Nature

21 Responses to Fun Family Learning: Constellation Cave Tutorial

  1. Pingback: Creating Joy! Felt Counting Fish and Other Fun - Child of the Nature Isle

  2. Pingback: Baby Hiccups In The Womb | Baby Web

  3. Pingback: How To Make The Most Of A Very Wet Summer | Diary of a First Child

  4. This is such a cool idea! Clearly I need to pin this to remind myself. :) I know only a few constellations and love the idea of learning more in an accessible way. Have you noticed that it’s easier now for you guys to pick out constellations when you’re outside?
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama recently posted..July Carnival of Natural Parenting: It’s a trap!My Profile

    • Farmer's Daughter

      This hasn’t really helped us find constellations outside, since it doesn’t get dark here until after 9:00 right now so we don’t do a lot of stargazing. But now I actually do know what to look for! I think it may have to be a winter hobby, since the stars will be out much earlier at night then.

  5. Pingback: Preparing Family Meals Together |

  6. Pingback: A surprise art lesson | Mum in search

  7. Tat

    I admit to having to look up the word ‘constellation’ in the dictionary, but once I found what it was… wow, your cave is amazing!
    Tat recently posted..A surprise art lessonMy Profile

  8. Oh for heaven’s sake! It’s amazing! You must be the best teacher… I’m so stealing this idea as Liam is starting to get more and more interested in weather and skies and clouds… it’s so great to have a “preschooler”!
    Laura recently posted..Memory creationMy Profile

    • Farmer's Daughter

      Haha! Unfortunately my high school projects aren’t so easy. I’m having great fun playing at the toddler level where I can be more creative without worrying about sacrificing scientific accuracy!

  9. I love this idea. I am now beginning my search for a giant box! Thank you for the inspiration!
    Emily recently posted..My Creative Family: Sometimes Messy, Always FunMy Profile

  10. Pingback: Getting My Craft On | Natural Parents Network

  11. Pingback: Cooking… Kind Of | Radical Ramblings

  12. Oh my gosh, Abbie – this is awesome!! I’m sharing with Tom – I think I could talk him into making something similar. I sewed Kieran a playmat a couple of years ago with constellations (and stuffed planets!), but this is so much better.

  13. Pingback: Making Glasses From Children’s Art | living peacefully with children

  14. Pingback: July 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Talent Show « Cinco de Mommy

  15. Such a neat idea! My oldest would really enjoy this!

  16. Love it. My daughter is very interested in stars, the sun and planets lately. This would be so wonderful for her right now. Thanks.
    Andrea @ talesofgoodness recently posted..Creating MemoriesMy Profile

  17. What a wonderful idea!!! I love it how creative you are! :)
    Alinka @ Baby Web recently posted..Baby Hiccups In The WombMy Profile

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