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Connecting the Dots: Understanding the Constellations

Lesson Overview

Overview: Students will be shown constellations and asked what they see. Next they will view pictures of the constellations from the 1800s. The students will also listen to a myth about the constellation. Finally they will create a constellation of their own.
Grade Range:  6-8
Objective: At the conclusion of this project, students will be able to:
  • Predict constellation shapes.
  • View and observe pictures of constellations from the 1800s.
  • Create their own myth about constellations and create their own constellation. 
Time Required:  One class period of 45 minutes. 
Disciplines/Subject:  Science (Earth Science)
Topic/Subject: Culture/Folklife
Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1818-1960 


Illinois Learning Standards: Science:
12-Understand the fundamental concepts, principles, and interconnections of the life, physical, and earth/space sciences.
12.F-Know and apply concepts that explain the composition and structure of the universe and Earth's place in it. 


Handouts:  Constellation Creation Handout/Dot to Dot drawing and Constellation Myth (page 6-8 of PDF)
Rubrics:  Constellation Creation Rubric (page 5 of PDF) 
PowerPoint Slides:  Available on PDF 
Library of Congress Items:  Title: Perseus and Caput Medusea 
  Title: Taurus 
  Title: Draco and Ursa Minor 
  Title: Ursa Major
  Title: Gemini 
Online Resources:  The Deep Photographic Guide to the Constellations-Gives names of constellations in Latin and gives a description and background. 


1. Begin introducing the PowerPoint. (available on PDF).
2. Ask the question "what are constellations?"
3. Show the first constellation and ask what they see. (available on PDF).
4. Ask for suggestions of what they saw.
5. Show the following slides of the LOC constellation pictures. (available on PDF).
6. Discuss their reactions.
7. Show the following slides and read the corresponding myth. (available on PDF).
8. Continue the procedure for the next four constellations.
9. The last slide presents the assessment to the students.
10. Handout the "Constellation Creation" packet and discuss the rubric. (pages 6-8 of PDF).
11. Allow time for questions and independent work.

The grading rubric will evaluate the constellations the students created.

Author Credits:

M. Walk
Cumberland Middle School