Whether you’re gazing at the night sky, saluting the American flag, or watching the annual Academy Awards, you will be seeing “stars.” Stars capture our imagination and are often a source of inspiration. The painter Vincent van Gogh covered several canvases with stars. Betsy Ross sewed stars and stripes on the first American flag. Gene Autry was honored with five different stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Add some sparkle and shine to the dreary winter months. Invite your group to share some activities related to the theme of stars. A few are suggested below.
- Hang twinkling lights and a variety of star shapes around the room. Ask participants to name some holidays, celebrations, and special events which feature stars. (Examples: Christmas, Epiphany, 4th of July, Presidents’ Day, Flag Day, Academy Award ceremony)
- List synonyms for shine. (Examples: twinkle, glitter, glow, shimmer, sparkle)
- Share photographs of starry night skies in the summer. Ask: Did you enjoy lying down under the night sky as a child? Tell us what kinds of things went through your imagination as you looked at the millions of stars. Did your family ever sleep under the stars? Describe the experience of a balmy summer night.
- Recite the nursery rhyme “Star Light, Star Bright.” Ask group members if they ever wished upon a shooting star as kids. Encourage them to list some simple wishes for the New Year.
- Invite a speaker (perhaps an astronomy student) to talk about the hobby of stargazing. Look at early evening stars through a pair of binoculars. Challenge your group to a simple astronomy quiz. Check out the possibility of a trip to a planetarium.
- Look at a picture of “Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh, painted in 1881. Talk about the images in the painting. Describe how you feel as you look at the painting. Listen to the song “Vincent” (“Starry, Starry Night”) by Don McLean. The song was written as a tribute to van Gogh.
- Enjoy some star songs: “Stardust,” “Don’t Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes,” “Catch a Falling Star,” “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “Swinging on a Star,” “Star-Spangled Banner,” “You Wish Upon a Star,” “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
- Read the original poem “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” which contains five stanzas of verse. Ask for volunteers to recite the first stanza from memory. For a bit of creativity: Ask participants to draw their own version of a “twinkling star” (or smiling star). Display the final products.
- Plan a star-themed party for the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 27, 2011. Suggestions: Hollywood star movie posters, star cutouts, star-shaped confetti, star balloons, star-shaped cookies.
- Learn to make three-dimensional stars or paper origami stars.
- To celebrate Presidents’ Day on February 21: Listen to our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Display the American flag and talk about the meaning of the stars and stripes. Make a patriotic star wreath.
- Discuss the meaning of “star” idioms: star-crossed lovers, born under a lucky star, see stars, stars in your eyes, reach for the stars.
- Read some “star” poetry by American poet Sara Teasdale. Suggestions: “Stars,” “The Falling Star,” “Winter Stars,” “I Know the Stars,” ” February Twilight”
- Make cinnamon dough stars to hang with yarn or ribbon. (Check the Internet for cinnamon dough ornament recipes.) Enjoy the aroma.
- Write a free-verse poem about our nearest star, the Sun. (Title: “Star of the Daytime Sky”) Sing “You Are My Sunshine.”
STARS TRIVIA QUIZ
- Which Disney movie featured the Academy Award-winning song, “When You Wish Upon a Star”? Pinocchio (1940)
- Who composed the famous march “The Stars and Stripes Forever”? John Philip Sousa
- If you’re born on January 1, what is your star sign? Capricorn
- What’s another name for the Star of Bethlehem? Christmas Star
- How many points does the Star of David have? Six
- What was the highest rank of Army Generals Douglas MacArthur and George C. Marshall? Five-star general
- Which state is nicknamed the Lone Star State? Texas
- What’s another name for a shooting star? Meteor
- Which science fiction TV show in the 1960s starred William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy? Star Trek
- Hinish the following weather proverb: “Cold is the night when stars…” Shine bright
“STARS” written by Sue Hansen. © 2011 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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