How Is the Sun Also a Star?

Eliza Clark
October 2, 2009

The scientific education of a preschooler is an amazing thing to witness. A child who looks into the daytime and the nighttime skies hasn’t the slightest idea that the sun, that great big ball of yellow warmth, bears any relation to the twinkling dots that cover the inky darkness of the night.  
The day will come, however, when someone or some book will let it slip that the sun is in fact a star. And then, explanations will be in order. For to a small person who is trying very hard to get a grasp on the world, this new information can seem almost like a betrayal. What do you mean, the sun is a star? It’s not a star, it’s the sun!  (We adore their conviction, even as we are bound to muddle it.)

When this moment comes, you’ll need a good story, and quick.  Something along these lines should satisfy your little inquisitor.

The Sun is a star up seen up close.  All stars are bright balls of burning gas, some bigger, some smaller.  The other stars we see at night are so far away (23 trillion miles or more!) that they look tiny to us.  Our Sun is a typical star, of medium size.  It is special because it the star closest to us, and gives us heat, light and energy.  Without the Sun, our star, none of us on Earth could survive.

And if your preschoolers remain skeptical, you can back up your story with facts and images about the Sun from NASA’s wonderful web site for kids, StarChild.  Because this giant leap of learning only leads to more questions. 

From the Parents

Similar Articles

  • How Do Plants Grow?

    Oona Baker - How Do Things Work?

    Children love accompanying their parents to farmers markets and sowing seeds in their own backyards, but one day they may want to know the real nitty gritty surrounding the whole process. How does this seed turn into an apple? What makes it grow? And... read more

  • How Do Birds Fly?

    Angie McDonald - How Do Things Work?

    How do birds fly? is a classic question. And one that, when asked by a child, stumps many parents. It's tempting to answer: because they have wings! And feathers! But what if your child wants a more informative answer? What if your child wants to kno... read more

The Savvy Library

From the educational to the whimsical, our Savvy editors help you explore your world. You can search our 1975 articles by keyword, subject, or date.

Notable Selection

Below you'll find some of the more popular selections from the Savvy Library: