Sky Tellers, the Magic, and the Mysteries of the Universe

Activity: Star Scramble

Who? 13–18

How Long? 30–45 minutes

What's Needed?

  • One set of Star Scramble Cards per group
  • Two colors of cardstock
  • Scissors


Through a fast-paced game of matching and sequencing, players discover fascinating facts about and reinforce their understanding of star life cycles.

The Activity

Before you start:  Enlarge 130% (on 11x17 paper) and copy the Star Stage and Stage Descriptions cards on two different colors of card stock for each group and cut out the cards. Based on the SkyTellers science story and discussion, players should have a basic understanding of star life cycles. Alternatively, children can research and create their own Stage Description cards.

Divide players into groups of three to five.

Each group’s mission is to be the first group to successfully match all their Star Stage and Stage Description cards and line them up in correct chronological order, from star birth to star death (after the protostar stage, the order line will diverge into two lines, one for small-mass stars, and one for medium- to large-mass stars.

Distribute one set of Star Scramble cards to each group. Place the Star Stage cards in random order, face down in a stack and the Stage Description cards face down, scattered in front of the players.

Each player, in turn, selects a Star Stage card and then selects a card from the Stage Description cards to read aloud. If the Star Stage and Stage Description are a match, the player calls out “star match.” If the others agree, the card and its match are set aside and the player waits his or her turn to draw another Star Stage card.  If the Star Stage and the Stage Description do not match, the Stage Description card is returned to its original position, face down, and the player waits of his or her turn to try again, Players should continue until all matches are made. If a match is found later to be incorrect, both cards are returned to the game. Players can discuss the descriptions and help each other verify matches, but they should not help each other find cards.

The facilitator should circulate and assist in clarifying terms if needed. Refer to “About Stars” for a discussion of star lives. Remind children of the SkyTellers science story.

The first group to find all the card matches and order them correctly, wins.


Have older children research the terms and create their own definition cards. Invite them to illustrate each stage of star evolution, based on what they have learned.

Connections to the National Science Standard(s)

Standard D (grades K–4): The sun and stars have properties that can be observed and described.

Standard D (grades 9–12): Stars produce energy from nuclear reactions, primarily the fusion of hydrogen to form helium.