Featured Book Activity

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer Drawings of the Night

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

by Walt Whitman, illustrated by Loren Long

Children should have the opportunity to spend some time outdoors on a relatively clear night looking at the sky, moon, and stars. Using a sky map, binoculars, or telescope may enhance the experience for more mature skywatchers while younger viewers may use a framing tool to avoid being overwhelmed by the hugeness.

Draw a picture from the nighttime experience.  Be sure to give it an appropriate title.  Use black, deep purple, or dark blue construction paper with chalk: white, pale yellow, or very light blue or pink (When the work is finished, be sure to apply hairspray or a chalk fixative from an art supply store to keep the pictures from smudging.) Colored pencils or fluorescent crayons may also be used.

The children of the illustrator made drawings of familiar things at night that were included in the book. Point out that they chose to represent familiar objects and settings as well as the sky.  Photographs, projected on screen or whiteboard or by an opaque projector, would allow all participants to have the same background experience.

If to be completed as a group assignment, use preparation for the drawing experience as homework to sketch ideas and collect words to share before beginning work at school or in art class.