A Totally Free Eclipse Mini Unit

April 4, 2024

eclipseYou’ve likely heard the news that in just a few days (April 8th), a total solar eclipse will be visible across Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Whether you can view this historic event from your own home, are planning on traveling to view it, or are simply watching a broadcast online, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about eclipses with your children!

I’ve decided to put together this free unit study that you can do with minimal planning, as there isn’t much time left to prepare. An eclipse like this doesn’t happen very often, after all. There won’t be another eclipse until 2033, but it will only be visible in Alaska. And the next total solar eclipse to span the entirety of the United States won’t be until 2045!

There are plenty of great resources online to get started, such as NASA’s Eclipse Explorer interactive map, which you can follow to see where the eclipse is currently visible.

If you’re like us, and the eclipse won’t be easy to see from your home, don’t fret! There are plenty of places that will be broadcasting the event live. NASA will be broadcasting the eclipse for free on their YouTube channel. You can also watch the eclipse live on Hulu and Disney+. Television channels such as ABC News, National Geographic, and CNN will also air the eclipse.

Books to Enjoy:

For younger readers/listeners:

When the Sun Goes Dark 

A Beautiful Few Minutes

What is a Solar Eclipse?

Sunpainters: Eclipse of the Navajo Sun

Totality! An Eclipse Guide in Rhyme and Science

For middle grade and up:

Eclipse Chaser: Science in the Moon’s Shadow

Every Soul a Star

Websites and Videos:

Great American Eclipse


Totality by Big Kid Science

Why the 2024 Solar Eclipse is Such a Big Deal | Be Smart

Getting Ready for the Eclipse! | SciShow Kids

Eclipses: Crash Course Astronomy #5

Fun Eclipse-themed Activities:

Make a pinhole viewer: though it is dangerous to look directly at the sun, a pinhole viewer is a safe way to watch the eclipse and is also very easy to make. It only requires a few materials you likely already have at home – a small box (you could even use a paper towel roll!), tin foil, and a pin!

Create sun prints (cyanotypes): using construction paper and any interestingly shaped objects found outside or within your home, this fun activity will teach your kids about the sun’s powerful UV rays and how they can be used in art!

Make a model eclipse: using any household items, such as paper, balls, or clay, as well as a flashlight or lamp representing the sun, have your kids design a model representing the eclipse!

Go to an eclipse viewing: many people are opting to travel to specific sites that are expected to have a good view of the eclipse. If you live close to one of these locations or are willing to go on a trip, this could be a very exciting and memorable field trip for you and your family!

I hope that you and your children can enjoy the upcoming eclipse together, and find yourselves on many an exciting astronomy-themed rabbit hole in the process! And if you enjoyed this free unit study, why not try one of Build Your Library’s literature-based Unit Studies?

Happy reading (and eclipse viewing)!

Did you enjoy this free mini-unit? Why not give one of Build Your Library‘s literature-based Unit Studies a try?

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Emily CookEmily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

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Have you been looking for a literature based homeschool curriculum that is secular? How about a way to incorporate narration, copywork, dictation and memory work into your child’s education? Or art study that ties into history?

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