From the scorching sun extending outward to the chilly planet Neptune, the solar system provides an array of opportunities for kids to learn about space science. Kids can make creative projects that focus on the planets to display at the school science fair, use as a class project or simply make at home as an antidote to a boring rainy day.
Balloons make an easy, and affordable, way to build a 3-D model of the solar system. While a balloon model isn't exactly permanent -- eventually the planets will deflate -- this project is easy enough for even kindergartners. Choose a balloon color to match each planet. For example, make Earth green and Jupiter orange. Blow up the balloons for your child, inflating each one to a different size. Set the balloons in a line, starting with the sun and moving through each celestial body. Attach the planet balloons together by taping a piece of yarn to each side. Take a photo to help your child to remember the project long after the balloons are gone.
If you are looking for an easy, and creative, solution to your child's solar system model-making project, try a Styrofoam planet activity. Buy nine Styrofoam balls from a craft or art supply store. Choose different sizes to represent each plant. For example, choose a large ball for Jupiter and a small one for Mercury. Have your child adorn each ball with a nontoxic paint in planet-themed colors. After the paint dries -- typically at least four hours -- pierce each ball with a piece of craft wire, bend it around into a circle and fit it through the planet's other side to create an orbit. Tie the orbits together with fishing line or string them all from a wooden dowel to make a hanging mobile model.
Sweeten the solar system by making a mini-model using pieces of candy. While your little learner can't eat the model after making, it, he can get creative while crafting this super science project. Start with a cardboard base. Cut the cardboard from the side of a large-sized appliance or moving box. Make a center dot as the sun, and then draw concentric orbits for the planets with a marker. Choose one piece of candy for each planet, such as a gum drop for Mercury or a peanut butter cup for Jupiter. Glue each candy to its respective place on the orbits. Snap a photo to keep the learning alive because the candy makes this a perishable project.
Kids can create a scale solar system model, using their own sense of space. If you have a large area, make the model to a grand scale. For example, use rocks to represent each planet, and strategically place them in the park or your backyard. Label each one with a note card to add the planet's names. For a smaller option, choose a less expansive scale and have your child draw the solar system onto a piece of construction paper or cardboard.
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