Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

How to watch the eclipse safely with kids

Children look up toward the sky while holding dark cardboard-rimmed glasses to their faces
Charlie Riedel
Associated Press
Keep those glasses on tight!

Many children across Vermont will be home with their families on the day of the total solar eclipse. Many schools and childcare centers will close their doors on April 8th in anticipation of the historic event (and the traffic that's sure to come with it).

Vermont Edition spoke with local educators about how to teach kids about the eclipse, and how to watch it with them safely.

How do I explain an eclipse to my young child?

Start out by explaining how exciting and special this moment is. "I'll tell them that something really special is going to happen in our sky on Monday," said Elizabeth Nuckols, the senior education manager for ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. "Do they know what that is?" Use their answers as a jumping off point and approach the conversation as a learning opportunity for everyone — yourself included.

Carrie Cruz, a retired teacher in Williston, recommends using storytelling to hook a child's interest (a Hindu myth about a demon eating the sun is one of her favorites). Cruz teaches children about astronomy under the moniker the Planetarium Lady. She has a mobile planetarium dome that she brings to schools, libraries and community centers around the state.

"When the sun is out, that light takes eight minutes to reach you. So when you feel the warmth of the sun, that energy has time traveled," Cruz said. "Using stories connects us to cultures and understandings of people long ago. It's all circular."

For book-loving kids, Nuckols recommends A Few Beautiful Minutes by Kate Ellen Fox and Someone Is Eating the Sun by Ruth Sonneborn.

Vermont Edition producer Andrea Laurion visited Salisbury Community School, where science teacher Amy Clapp talked about the importance of giving children an entry way to understand the eclipse at their level.

"But probably the most important thing is that kids walk away from this realizing they've experienced something incredible, and they get that sense of wonder and awe that makes learning probably the most exciting thing you can do.”

What do I do if my kid won't keep their eclipse glasses on?

First, be clear with your kids that the sun can damage their eyes. Next, give them a choice: You do not need to look at the sun, but if you do, you'll need to have protection on your eyes.

A white woman in a blue cardigan holds up a paper plate mask with eclipse glasses in the center.
Daniela Fierro
Nuckols models a homemade eclipse mask.

Nuckols acknowledges that kids might refuse to wear eclipse glasses or try to peek over them. She suggests cutting off the arms of the glasses and gluing them onto a paper plate to make a mask. Adults can also help children make pinhole viewers made out of shoe boxes, cereal boxes or paper towel rolls.

Where can I find more kid-focused eclipse resources?

But Why, Vermont Public's podcast for curious kids, has a new episode out about solar eclipses. Their team has also created teaching resources for educators and produced a video short.

The ECHO, Leahy Center lists its eclipse programming, merchandise and teaching resources on its website.

Broadcast live on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments, or tips? Send us a message or check us out on Instagram.

Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Andrea Laurion joined Vermont Public as a news producer for Vermont Edition in December 2022. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., and a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. Before getting into audio, Andrea worked as an obituary writer, a lunch lady, a wedding photographer assistant, a children’s birthday party hostess, a haunted house actor, and an admin assistant many times over.