This is a fun way to learn constellations! After children make their own lantern, they will surely want to go out and study the night sky above.
I think this is a pretty cool idea if I do say so myself.
Fine metal sandpaper, fine metal file, pliers, small hammer, metal punch, nail (hard to see in photo), yellow colored pencil, wire cutters and a pair of protective eye wear.
P.S. I made the star on the wall by cutting it out from a aluminum beer can.
Clean the can and remove the label. Recommended can sizes: 16 oz. cans can be used but I prefer to use 28 oz. cans.
You will want to freeze water in the can or stuff it with newspaper to provide support while making holes.
If you don’t want to wait for water to freeze, tightly roll up newspaper and put the roll in the can. Then squeeze in more newspaper along the side until you can’t add anymore.
Use star maps to draw star constellation patterns on a piece of paper. Or you can save yourself the trouble and use the constellation guides that I created and sized especially for this project.
Constellation Guides (19):*
Aquarius, Aries, Cancer, Capricornus, Cassiopia, Cygnus, Gemini, Hercules, Leo, Lyra, Orion, Pegasus, Perseus, Pieces, Sagittarius, Scorpius, Taurus, Ursa Major, and Virgo.
*Because it takes a tremendous amount of time for me to develop projects like this, design and draw a pattern (s), test ideas, make, take pictures, edit pictures, write the how to, etc… I’m asking for a mere 2 dollars (see side donation button for quick payment with Paypal or mail a check). Send me an e-mail (hesterjane@FunIntheMaking.net) and I’ll send you easy to print pdf files with the patterns in two sizes (large and small).
Here is a sample constellation: Hercules Guide
Print out the constellation and tape the guide onto the outside of the can. Decide on the size guide you want to use. Both guides will work on the two size cans recommended above (because both cans are about 4 inches high.) However, some constellations look better in the smaller format because they fit better on the front of the can: opposed to wrapping around the can. You decide.
This is the fun part! Use a nail or a metal punch to make holes as marked on your guide. Note: you should make bigger holes where there are bigger dots -small holes for small dots. Using nails would be more appropriate for children. Regardless, adult supervision is required for this part. Add another constellation on the other side of the can.
Don’t forget to add holes near the top for adding a handle later. They should be opposite each-other.
Use a fine metal file to file down the rough edges inside the can. Have an adult do this step. If you skip this step, be careful because it can scratch.
Go outside and paint your Can Constellation Lantern. Use black, navy blue or dark purple. Honestly, I think that any darkish color would be great: red, orange, green. This is a good project for left-over paint. Putting to use someone’s leftovers is better for the environment then just buying new so check your local re-store for inexpensive options. I used some left-over black spray paint. Let dry.
Use a straight edge and a yellow colored pencil to connect the dots as shown on the guide.
This is a close-up of the can constellation Hercules
Make a wire handle if you like. I used scrap electrical wire. Ask an electrician for scraps.
Illuminate your stars by putting a votive inside, a battery powered votive or use a flashlight. Only use a votive if it is properly supervised by an adult.
This is one of the holders I made for a children’s ”green” gift making winter workshop recently. The holder (A.) is made with three boards that are nailed together: shown in the picture. Miscellaneous scrap sticks (B.)of different sizes are removable and are switched to accommodate various can sizes.
Wouldn’t it be fun to take your can constellation lanterns to the beach on a warm summer evening for an evening of stargazing?
Enter to win this lantern here!