How can stars help you if you get lost?
Read-Along Mystery 6 image
How can stars help you if you get lost?
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Hi, my name is Ryan.

This weekend, my dad is taking me camping for the first time.

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We’ve slept in our backyard before.

But we’ve never camped in the woods together.

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When we go camping, we’ll get to hike.

(Dad says it’s like walking, only better.)

We’ll build a fire and sleep in a tent!

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While we’re packing the car, Dad says, “Don’t forget the flashlight. It’s going to be dark out there.”

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That gets me thinking.

I ask Dad, “What if it’s so dark, we can’t find the flashlight? What if we get lost and can’t find our tent?”

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Dad says, “Don’t worry. We’ll be okay. The stars will help us.”

I wonder: How can the stars help someone who is lost at night?

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Maybe in the woods, the stars are so bright it’s like daytime.

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Maybe the stars tell you what direction you’re going, so you can find your way back to the tent.

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Maybe the stars form arrows that point the way.

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stop & talk Stop & Talk: How could stars help you find your way at night? Any ideas?

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It’s a long drive to the campsite.

Along the way, there are fewer and fewer houses.

There are more and more trees.

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When we get there, it’s almost dark.

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We’re putting up the tent when a ranger comes by.

She tells us there’s a special star-watching program tonight.

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There will be telescopes to look at the stars.

Dad says we can go!

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Dad says this is a perfect time to wear our matching shirts.

He finds them in our bag and we put them on.

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Our shirts show a pattern made up of seven stars in the sky.

It’s called the Big Dipper because it looks like a big spoon.

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“Maybe the ranger will show us how the stars can help us if we’re lost,” I say.

“If you ask, I’m sure she will,” Dad says.

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When we finish setting up camp, it’s dark outside.

We hike to where the telescopes are.

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Lots of other kids and their parents are there.

Everyone loves our shirts!

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We take turns looking through the telescopes.

We can see so many stars.

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“Hey, Dad! I can see the Big Dipper! All seven stars.”

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get up & move

Get Up & Move!

Pretend you’re looking through a telescope at the stars.
What do you see?

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The ranger says, “I’m going to show you a star that will help you if you ever get lost. It’s called the North Star. It’s always in the north.”

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I know about north.

On our way here, Dad showed me on the map.

We drove south, away from our house and toward the big trees.

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To go home, we’ll drive north.

Finding the North Star can tell me which way home is.

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I stare up at the sky.

“There are so many stars,” I say. “It’s going to be hard to find one special star.”

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The ranger smiles.

“If you can find the Big Dipper,” she says, “you can find the North Star.”

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The ranger says, “Draw a line that connects these two stars in the Big Dipper. The line makes an arrow that points to the North Star.”

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“Even though the Big Dipper is in different places in the sky at different times,” she says, “it always points to the North Star.”

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stop & talk Stop & Talk: Here’s the Big Dipper. Can you find the North Star?

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If you follow the two stars on the outer edge of the Big Dipper’s bowl, you can find your way to the North Star.

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Now I know the North Star is always in the north.

I think about how that could help us find our way back to our campsite.

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I ask Dad, “Which way is our campsite from here?”

He grins and says, “It’s north of where we are now.”

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“I know which way to go!” I say.

I look up at the North Star and point in that direction.

“That’s right,” Dad says.

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“So, all we have to do,” Dad says, “is…”

“I know!” I say. “Follow the North Star!”

THE END

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Optional Activity: Where Is North?

Your teacher has labeled the walls of the classroom with North, South, East, and West. Discuss:

  • To go to the front of the room, which direction would you walk: North, South, East, or West?
  • Which direction would you walk to go toward the clock?
  • What is closest to the west wall of the classroom?

Suppose you could walk through the wall labeled North and keep on walking in a straight line. Discuss:

  • Where would you end up if you kept walking North?
  • Where would you end up if you kept walking South?
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Look at a globe of the Earth.

  • Find where you are on the globe.
  • Find the North Pole and the South Pole on the globe. If you walked North, you’d end up at the North Pole. What places would you go through on your way there?
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Extensions

Below is an for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration you just completed.

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Print Prep
Activity Prep

Switch to narrated voiceover

In this Read-Along Mystery, Ryan’s camping trip with his dad includes a night of stargazing, and a mystery to solve. The Mystery includes a short exercise where students imagine what they might see looking through a telescope. You can extend the lesson with the optional activity, Where Is North?, that helps students learn the cardinal directions.

Preview optional activity

Number of students:
Blank Paper (8.5 x 11")
Used to make Cardinal Direction signs for the classroom. Recycled is fine.
Details
4 sheets per class
Globe
1 globe per class
Compass
1 compass per class
Prep Instructions

We suggest an optional activity that helps students gain a better understanding of the cardinal directions (north, south, east, west).

For this activity, you will need to make four signs:

  • North
  • South
  • East
  • West

You will use these signs to label your classroom walls with the appropriate cardinal direction. To identify which sign goes where, you can use a compass or Google Maps.

Here’s how to identify the directions using Google Maps:

  1. Open Google Maps and enter your school’s street address.
  2. Zoom in on your school and look at the surrounding streets and landmarks.
  3. North is always up on Google Maps. Find a landmark that’s to the north of your school.
  4. Put North on the wall that’s closest to that landmark.
  5. Face North. Put West on the wall to your left, East on the wall to your right, and South on the wall behind you.
Extensions
Download this Mystery to your device so you can play it offline: