Children are full of curiosity, which comes with a lot of questions being asked about almost everything around us. One of my favorite questions I have been asked is, “Why does it get dark at night?”

So where does the night come from? The Earth rotates on its axis 24 hours a day while it orbits around the sun 365 days a year. One complete rotation on its axis takes 24 hours. Because it is constantly turning, the darkness of night comes when the part of Earth you live on doesn’t catch the sunlight. Night time is when the sun is on the other side of the Earth’s sphere. Starting at dusk you will start to notice the stars appear in the sky; you may even notice the constellations.

This activity will help your children to actually see how this works.

Supplies Needed

  • 1 Large Styrofoam ball

  • Flashlight

  • Blue and green paint

  • Paint brushes

  • Gold star stickers

  • Craft dowel or shish kebob skewer


  • Paint the Styrofoam ball with the blue and green paint in an earthly pattern. You can place the skewer through the ball to make it easier to paint all around it.

  • Place skewer with painted Styrofoam ball in a cup to let the paint dry.

  • Stick a gold star sticker on the earth where you live.

  • Then, once the paint is dry, take your flashlight and shine it on the foam ball in one spot.

  • Spin the skewer while holding the flashlight in one spot and notice how one side of your Earth is dark and one side of your Earth is “sunny” from the flashlight. This demonstrates how the Earth rotates on its axis.

  • You will literally be able to see why it gets dark at night.