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How to Draw the Dancing Northern Lights

Aug 14, 2018

Close your eyes and imagine gazing up at thousands of stars, shining in the sky — colourful curtains of light change shape before your eyes! Dancing in splendid shades of green, red and even blue, we call this phenomenon Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. These natural light displays are clearly visible in the night sky of the world’s largest dark sky preserve, Wood Buffalo National Park.

The park protects the home of several nocturnal animals like bats and owls. Away from the harsh pollution of city lights, the animals can hunt and feed in the darkness. Like us, they rely on the regular patterns of day and night — excess light can throw off their rhythms.

Each year in late August, people from all over the world come to the Thebacha and Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Festival. Together, they learn why dark sky preserves are important and enjoy the dramatic auroras and constellations. Now and then, a special surprise rushes through the sky… a shooting star!

Now it’s your turn — experience the auroras with the little ones as they draw the northern lights moving across a dark sky. Foster their creativity and add some scientific fun to their day!

You'll Need

  • Coloured chalks or pastels (any colour is fine, but we suggest purple, green, blue and orange)
  • Posterboard or construction paper (black)
  • Sheets of white paper or draft paper
  • Washcloth to clean your hands (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Blue tack
  • Star-shaped stickers (optional)

Supplies needed for the Northern Lights project

How To

1. Take a piece of white paper and draw a wavy line with your pencil to create a mountain-like effect. Cut out your paper along this line.

2. Use the blue tack to stick your mountain shape to the bottom of the black paper. (Note: Use the most porous or rough side of the black paper or cardstock to extend your chalk or pastels.)

Wavy white paper on top of black paper to create a mountain range.

3. Using your pastels or chalk, draw large dark and broad lines of different colours on the edge of the mountain shape. Repeat the same strokes several times if you want to make them bolder and wider.

The beginnings of the drawing.

4. Now, with your finger, rub your lines towards the top of the sheet, smudging them to form the look of the northern lights.

5. If you’d like, you can place star shaped stickers in the sky to make it even more accurate!

Finished northern lights drawing!

Once you’re done, you can decorate the walls with your own aurora borealis masterpieces and admire your beautiful night sky!

Article Author Club Parka, Parks Canada
Club Parka, Parks Canada

Club Parka is a Parks Canada program for preschoolers at national parks and historic sites across the country. Kids can take part in the program online, too!

Visit parkscanada.gc.ca/Parka to download activity pages and get to know Parka, the busy little beaver who helps kids explore the world around them.

You can watch Parka weekday mornings on CBC TV following each episode of Chirp.

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