Best Solar Eclipse Lessons and Activities

Total Solar Eclipse lessons and activities
(Image credit: Getty Images/Jorge Villalba)

Since ancient times, astronomers have observed solar eclipses, with the earliest known documented example occurring around 1223 BCE. Although we no longer believe that a celestial shadow passing over the sun is a supernatural event, humans are still fascinated by the transient interruption of this essential source of Earth’s energy, without which no life would be possible. 

The relatively rare total solar eclipse event that will occur April 8, 2024, offers a wonderful opportunity for teachers to inspire interest not only in STEM subjects such as astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology, but also in history and social studies. 

Speaking of social, the widespread eclipse buzz on social media will drive student engagement as well! Use the following solar eclipse lessons and activities to make the most of this astonishing and dramatic rare event. 

Q&A with Dr. Jeffrey Bennett
From astronomer and educator Dr. Jeff Bennet of Big Kid Science, this downloadable PDF covers the basic information teachers and students need to know about the upcoming 2024 Total Solar Eclipse. An excellent starting point for further inquiry. 

Eye Safety During a Total Solar Eclipse
First things first when you’re talking about looking at the sun: This article from NASA describes several methods for safely viewing a solar eclipse and links to approved sites for eclipse related purchases.

The LightSound Project
Created by Harvard astronomers and billed as a “solar eclipse sonification tool,” this remarkable device translates the visual action of an eclipse into sounds for the Blind and Low Vision community. Complete building instructions are provided in English, Spanish, and French. Educators and those interested in hosting workshops are invited to collaborate with project lead Allyson Bieryla. A great undertaking project for advanced STEM students.

Easy Solar Heat Beam Activity
This hands-on activity demonstrates the power of the sun in a way that students of any age can readily grasp. Ideal for younger learners up to age 13. 

The 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
From NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio comes this high-quality collection of downloadable maps covering every aspect of the 2024 total solar eclipse’s path across the continental U.S. 

NASA Eclipses
Facts, interactive maps, stories, and breathtaking images from the experts in all things astronomical. Included is a fascinating comparison between the upcoming 2024 total solar eclipse and the 2017 total solar eclipse, which some students and many teachers may remember. Solar and Lunar eclipses
A fine collection of simulations that model solar and lunar eclipses, as well as seasons, time zones, and tides. Users can vary the speed, distance, time of year, and view to generate various perspectives of each phenomenon.

Snap it! An Eclipse Photo Adventure
A simple but surprisingly challenging game in which players align a digital camera with targets moving across the face of the sun, generating images of eclipses and objects that transit the sun. Matches reveal identification and other details about the images. 

Eclipse Stories from Around the World
While teaching about solar eclipses typically involves STEM subject areas, educators can also explore the social, cultural, and historical aspects of eclipses. This fascinating illustrated article examines how various cultures from the past viewed eclipses—both literally and figuratively. 

Solar Eclipse Memory Game
Choose your difficulty level, then start matching solar eclipse-related images. High-quality images make this game both fun and educational. 

Hands on Solar Eclipse Activities
Six hands-on solar eclipse activities that use common materials to teach about this uncommon event. Each activity provides analysis, detailed instructions and ideas for further inquiry.   

Solar Eclipse Lesson Plans and Activity Guides
From the U.S. National Science foundation, these eight PDF lesson plans provide almost everything needed for teaching students age 4 and older about the sun and solar eclipses. Each lesson includes multiple activities, excellent background information and images, and video links to investigate further.  

Great American Eclipse
Build excitement and anticipation for the upcoming total solar eclipse by viewing animated maps and images that illustrate the path and coverage across North America, as well as the exact timing and duration of totality for dozens of American cities.   

Diana Restifo

Diana has been Tech & Learning's web editor and contributor since 2010, dedicated to ferreting out the best free tech tools for teachers.