20 Hands On Solar System Learning Activities for Kids

by Love Your Homeschool

My first grader and kinders LOVE anything space so I am always on the hunt for the easiest and best hands on solar system activities that really bring learning alive.

Most of these activities can be whipped up quickly with materials you already have but I did include a few that require more work.  However, they are totally worth the effort and time and your kids will have a blast learning about our solar system in a FUN and UNFORGETTABLE way!

Pin for when you’re ready to do a solar system unit study!

HANDS ON PLANET ACTIVITIES

1. YARN WRAPPED PLANETS  by And Next Comes L

This was a super easy activity for little hands. Photo by Love Your Homeschool

If you are looking for a really easy activity that you can put together in two seconds, this is it!  All you need are cardboard circles and yarn.

You can take this further and hang them from the ceiling for a beautiful mobile or include them in some of the activities below.  We hung them above our children’s bed and they are oh so pretty.

There are two tricks for making this easier.  First, cut slits all around the cardboard.  This will give the yarn something to grip onto.  Second, tape the end of the yarn to the back of the circle before your child starts wrapping.  This will help keep everything tight and securely in place.

I especially love it for how EASY and MESS FREE it is!

Supplies Needed:  Cardboard cut into circles, Different colored yarn, Scissors

2. ALUMINUM WRAPPED PLANETS by  Pinay Homeschooler

Pinay Homeschooler

This is another easy craft that always turns out beautiful.  You can make it on one paper or combine several for a really long display.  Wouldn’t this be beautiful stretched along a classroom wall?

The kids can do so much of this themselves (I supervised the glitter and the sharpies).  We added labels to each planet and even added stickers to represent the larger moons and stars stickers as well.

Pretty it up with a glittered asteroid belt!

Supplies Needed:

  • Circle templates (either cardstock or cardboard)
  • Black posterboard or construction paper
  • Sharpies
  • White crayon
  • Glitter
  • Star stickers (optional)

3. COFFEE FILTER PLANETS 

Photo by aboutamom.com

I have expanded this idea from Angela at About a Mom.  She created a VERY EASY earth using only coffee filters, markers and water. I was inspired to take it a step further and have the kids make each of the planets to hang in our living room windows as sun catchers.  These planets are perfect for the not so crafty mama as this was by far the easiest Suncatcher we have ever made!

Supplies Needed:

  • White coffee filters
  • Washable markers
  • Spray bottle
  • Water

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HANDS ON SUN ACTIVITIES

4.  EASY SUNDIAL CLOCK by Paging Super Mom

Photo by pagingsupermom.com

There are so many pretty sun crafts for kids but I wanted to do one that taught them in a fun, science-y way.  This one is super easy to make and can be reused over and over.

Not only are they learning about how the sun moves across the sky, but your kids are learing about how to read a sun dial as well.

Head over to Paging Super Mom to get your free clock face printable.  You will need a rigid paper plate and a pencil or a dowel.

The trick is to mark 12 o’clock due north so that your shadows line up exactly. You can always come out at the top of an hour and adjust if necessary.

Supplies Needed:

5.  DIY SUNDIAL WITH CLAY by Kiwi Co.

Photo by Kiwi Co.

This sundial takes more work and dedication but it also results in more engagement and discussion for the kids.  Even though this took time and even though I am allergic to activities with lots of prep,  I really liked this sundial more than the clock face craft above.

The kids were working on it all day and it really extended the conversation about how the earth spins everyday.  Its from Kiwi Co. so you know its awesome!

We had to set a timer to remember to put out our next marker.  I got a million “is it time yet?”.  But the end result was so pretty.

The biggest consideration was to make sure our chickens didn’t ruin all of our hard work.

Supplies:

  • Soft Clay or Playdoh
  • Toothpicks
  • Pencil/straw or dowel
  • Twine (10″)
  • Tape for labels

HANDS ON ROCKET ACTIVITIES

6.  STRAW ROCKETS  by Buggy and Buddy

Photo by BuggyandBuddy.com

Chelsey at Buggy and Buddy has such a beautiful blog that I want to try out all her awesome activities!  Her kiddos made these gorgeous and FUN rockets.

Mine were so excited and played with theirs all afternoon.  They can shoot for one of the planets you already made and pretend they are on a mission to Mars.

Super simple to make.  The only thing you may need to go out and buy are pipettes, otherwise you can use another straw that is slightly bigger then the first straw.

Supplies Needed:

7.  BAKING SODA ROCKETS by We Know Stuff

Photo by We Know Stuff

Want to have 4th of July in October?!  Then do this!  The BONUS is that it is an awesome twist on the classic vinegar/baking soda science experiment.

This is on my list to try as soon as the snow melts as it is super messy and needs to be done outside.  Also, you are going to want your kids to wear safety glasses or goggles to protect from spraying vinegar.

Supplies Needed:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • 16oz water bottle
  • Food coloring
  • Rubber stoppers or corks
  • 4 Pencils
  • Strong tape (gorilla)
  • Toilet paper
  • Scissors
  • Funnel

8.  FLYING ROCKET KITE by Picklebums

Photo by Picklebums

This activity is SO SIMPLE that you probably already have everything you need.  My kids went BANANAS over making these kites.

I first asked them to go outside and find a good stick and then I let them put their kites together themselves.  I found that printing the free rocket template on cardstock made it more durable.  You can also print on regular paper and glue the rocket to a piece of cardboard or cereal box but out to match the shape.

Supplies Needed:

  •  FREE ROCKET PRINTABLE
  • Card stock or cardboard
  • Markers/crayons or paint
  • Streamers
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Hole Punch
  • Twine
  • Stick of choice

HANDS ON SOLAR SYSTEM MODELS

9.  SOLAR SYSTEM MOBILE by WikiHow

Photo by Wikihow

This is the classic solar system model that every child should do at least once!  There are so many beautiful and fancy options that you can find on pinterest, but who has that time?

I really liked this one because it can be hung and doesn’t take up any shelf space (3 kids y’all!).  I love how it looks hanging from my children beds.  I think next time we will add glow in the dark paint for an extra pop at nighttime.

This activity does take more work and supply gathering so you may want to save it for the last hurrah of your solar system studies.

Supplies Needed:

    •  9 Styrofoam balls of different sizes
    • 5×5 Styrofoam sheet 1.5″ thick
    • Acrylic craft paint
    • Stick or thick dowel 30″ long (we used old driftwood we had)
    • 9 wooden skewers
    • Twine
    • Scissors or box cutter
    • 4″ and 3″ jars for tracing
    • Glue

10.  SOLAR SYSTEM SNOW GLOBE by RedTedArt

Photo by RedTedArt

You know those little plastic pieces that come in your pizza box that keeps the box from smushing the pizza…keep it, there is finally a use for it!

Red Ted Art has come up with the cutest snow globes for kids, but this one is perfect for solar system studies.

I made a few changes to the original craft.  First, use 26 gauge craft wire instead of fishing wire.  This will keep the planets from tangling as they get shaken around.  Second, we added small glow in the dark stars for night time.

Supplies Needed:

  • Old glass jar (I used a pint sized mason jar)
  • Soft oven baked clay
  • Glycerine
  • Glitter
  • Water
  • Glue (hot glue gun or super glue)
  • 26 gauge jewelry wire or fishing line
  • Pizza box plastic piece
  • Glow in the dark stars (optional)

11.  MONTESSORI INSPIRED SOLAR SYSTEM MAP by The Kavanaugh Report

Photo by The Kavanaugh Report

I was totally inspired by this beautiful solar system map that Nicole from The Kavanaugh Report made for her kids.  Her map is made of felt and uses beautiful wooden planets and three part cards.  I am in awe of moms who take the time to create beautiful learning materials for their kids.

I have simplified this activity for our home however, because (let’s face it) I am not that talented.  Instead of felt, I used a black poster board.  I can’t fold it up and store it away prettily, but I can pop it behind a bookshelf for later use.

This activity is a great way for kids to “see” the whole solar system and play with how all the planets orbit the sun on their own path. Supplies Needed:

  • Black poster board
  • Yellow construction paper
  • White crayon
  • Planets
  • Free printable cards here

12.  SCALE MODEL OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM by Education.com

Photo by Education.com

Show your kids how big our solar system is by producing a scale model!  You can help set this up with younger kids by showing them each placement and older kids can measure the placements themselves.  You need at least 30 meters for Neptune so this would be great for the backyard.

You can halve the measurements to make your scale smaller if you have a long hallway and use toilet paper to mark the differences. You can also scale down the measurement according to how much space you have inside.  Here is a great example of how to do that.  I love that this can be done whenever and is not dependent on the weather.  Plus kids love to play with toilet paper, so there you go.  There are many options for how to do this activities.  You can make it really BIG or really SMALL.

I’ve seen this done with beads and M&M’s so it your kiddos choice how dramatic to make it.   You can go to Education.com for an example of a BIG outdoors experiment.  This website provides a complete guide plus all the measurements you need to get started.

TIP:  If it is a windy day, print THIS on card stock and glue popsicle sticks to the back and stick in the ground.  You can also just lay the templates on the ground and put a rock on top. Supplies Needed:


GET YOUR FREE SCIENCE ACTIVITIES GUIDE!

STEP BY STEP EASY TO FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FOR EACH ACTIVITY IN THIS POST!

CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO GET YOURS TODAY!


HANDS ON CONSTELLATION ACTIVITIES

13.  STICKER STAR CONSTELLATIONS by Gift of Curiosity

Photo by The Gift of Curiosity

This is perfect for younger kids as well as for using up all that black construction paper that gets ignored.  It is crazy easy to do! I highly recommend The Gift of Curiosity’s 3-part constellation cards.  There are so many uses for them outside this activity. However, if it’s not in the budget any online guide or constellation book from the library will do.

Give the kiddos their supplies, sit back with a cup of coffee and pat yourself on the back for making learning fun.   The kids used gold stickers for each star and then used white crayon to connect them together.

Katie at Gift of Curiosity was the inspiration for this craft.  Check out her amazing blog…your kids will never be bored!

Supplies Needed:

  • Black construction paper
  • Star stickers
  • White crayon or chalk
  • Your favorite constellation book (this is ours!).

14.  CONSTELLATION LACING CARDS by Kids Activities Blog

Photo by Kids Activities Blog

I included this hands on activity because it is the perfect quiet time activity for preschoolers and early elementary kids.  Laminate, stuff  into your purse and take it on the road, at a restaurant or while at the doctors.  Anywhere you would typically whip out a screen you can do these instead!

I used these on a recent 2 day road trip when everyone got bored watching movies.  This was the perfect NEW activity for them and they loved it.

The idea comes from Holly at Kids Activities Blog.  Her blog is amazing.  Be sure to poke around a bit after downloading the free lacing card printable for lots and lots of ideas for your homeschool.

Print out on card stock, punch the holes with a hole punch  and let them enjoy.

Supplies Needed:

15.  CONSTELLATION ROCK ART by Creekside Learning

Photo by Creekside Learning

This activity is awesome because anything that gets the kids outside and learning at the same time makes this mama happy.

The other great thing is that the kids pretty much do this activity on their own.  You are the constellation guide, they put it together.

They can gather the materials they want to use (rocks, leaves, flowers, anything!) and then connect all the dots with sidewalk chalk.  We used our favorite constellation book as a guide.  It is awesome because it glows in the dark so you can take it out for stargazing too.  But, any book or reference will do.

You can also use this website for a visual of the most popular constellations.

Supplies Needed:

  • Sidewalk chalk
  • loose parts
  • Constellation book or online guide.

16.  DIY CONSTELLATION PROJECTOR by Playground Parkbench

Photo by Playground Parkbench

Projectors don’t have to be fancy and they don’t have to come from the store.  Gather a few household items, visit Meghan at Playground Park Bench for the full instructions and free printable, then give kids a flashlight and send them off.

This is really fun to do in a dark closet!  I gave this to my kinder when he was having trouble being scared of the dark.  It was the perfect, quiet activity that got his mind off his fears.

Supplies Needed:

17.  INVITATION TO PAINT THE NIGHT SKY by Teach Play Repeat

Photo by Teach Play Repeat

This activity is a double bonus!  Not only does it combine art with science but it is incredibly easy to set up and do.  Plus, you probably have all of the materials on hand already.  

First, mix black paint with glitter.  The larger the pieces of glitter the better.  Then hand it over to your child and let them create their own night sky.  Talk about the different objects in the sky while they are painting and ask them which objects they would like to include.  Can they make the Milky Way?  What about planets, the moon or constellations?  This would make a perfect introduction to a space unit!

This idea is from Clarissa at Play Teach Repeat.  Her blog is full of wonderful ideas!

Supplies Needed:

  • Black Paint
  • Glitter
  • Painting Paper ( I used watercolor paper but easel paper works well too)
  • Paint Cups or Bowls
  • Paintbrushes

HANDS ON MOON ACTIVITIES

18.  MOON CRATERS by Marianna Frances  

Photo by Marianne Francis

How did the moon get its craters?  Marianna over at Marianna Frances came up with this awesome idea for teaching kids how the moon got its features.  You will need a thick black poster board covered in toothpaste and shaving cream.  Oh yeah baby!

Take the kids outside and let them chunk whiffle balls at “the moon”.  What kid doesn’t love making a mess with shaving cream.  Now they get their chance to go wild with it and learn something too!

Supplies Needed:

  • Black poster board
  • Toothpaste
  • White foam shaving cream
  • Light weight balls (like whiffle balls)

19.  MOON FEATURES WITH FLOUR by A Day in First Grade 

Photo by A Day in First Grade

This is an extension of the activity above and can be done inside if you are very brave (I’m not!).  I was inspired by A Day in First Grade and how this activity was used to teach students about the moons craters, valleys and mountains.  We didn’t have a huge pizza tray so we adapted and used a pie pan.  Each kid got their own pan, which worked out really nicely (no fighting!)

I laid out our huge moon map on our patio table and the kids had to locate and recreate different features of the moons surface. We had a lot of fun with this and it really brought our moon map to life.

Supplies Needed:

20.  MOON PHASE TRACKING CALENDAR by Preschool Powol Packets

Photo by Preschool Powol Packets

Head over to Preschool Powol Packets to snag your free moon phase tracking calendar printable.  This will be a month long data collection activity for your child.  After learning about the phases of the moon, they will fill out their own chart over the next 28 days.  

I love this activity because it lasts all month.  Little bits of observation over time equate to big amounts of retention.  It also requires very little prep from you!   Your child will draw the moon each night and fill in the dates.  Make several copies and have it become part of their nighttime routine or laminate and use it over and over again each month. 

Supplies Needed:

Did you try any of these activities?  How did it all go?

 I would love to know in the comments below!


DON'T FORGET THE FREE SCIENCE ACTIVITIES GUIDE! STEP BY STEP EASY TO FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FOR EACH ACTIVITY IN THIS POST! CLICK THE IMAGE TO GET YOURS TODAY!

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