A child cutting with scissors.

Astronomy for Kids: How to Make a Solar System

When kids learn about the solar system for the first time, it’s a pretty sure bet that they’re going to want to find out more. For kids, astronomy is all about the thrill of exploring the unknown – so getting to see what far away planets look like up close is sure to appeal. That’s why this solar system for kids can be made extra large if you have the space and time.  

Making a solar system for kids

Whether your little ones are already in love with Science or they’re only just being introduced to the subject, there are plenty of solar system for kids projects you can make together. Making a model of the solar system is not only educational; it’s also plenty of fun. And if you’re worried about stains from glue, paint, and other craft materials then OMO can help you clean up afterwards so there’s nothing to hold you back. To make the solar system for kids, you will need:

  • 9x round balloons
  • Balloon pump
  • Old newspapers
  • PVA glue
  • Water
  • Paintbrushes
  • Thick cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Poster paints
  • Fishing wire
  • Glitter and other embellishments

How to make solar system planets for kids

Once you have all your materials together, it is time to make your solar system. First of all, you should start by making the main planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune – as well as the sun.

Remember:

The planets are different sizes so you will need to work out a sizing scale for each of the models you make. Ask your child to help you and compare the size of the planets to add extra educational value to this fun activity.

Once you have your scale and know what size each of your planets should be, it’s time to get making;

  1. Blow up each balloon to the required size for the planet or sun. As a general rule, the sun should be the biggest followed by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Earth, Venus, Mars, Mercury. In reality, the sun is ten times the size of Jupiter so you may want to use your judgement here and make your model a little smaller to allow it to be displayed at home.
  2. Next, tear your newspaper into lots and lots of small strips. Make a solution of PVA glue and water that’s thick enough to dry on your fingers, but wet enough to paint with using a brush.
  3. Using fingers and brushes, cover the balloon with the newspaper strips and glue mixture - overlapping the pieces and building up a few layers for a good strong planet. Leave a little gap at the bottom where the balloon tie is, and set your planets aside to dry. You may want to stand them on a cup or bowl to prevent them from sticking to the table!
  4. When the planets have dried thoroughly, pop the balloon with a pin and remove the inside.
  5. Paper mache over the small hole you left before and leave to dry again. This can be a little fiddly, so you’ll need lots of patience.
  6. Once dry, you’ll have all of the main elements of your solar system for kids.

Painting and decorating solar system planets for kids

The planets of our solar system aren’t just different sizes – they’re also different colours and have different patterns and features. To make your solar system stand out, you need to paint and decorate all of your planets. This is a great way to teach kids astronomy and allow them to have a little fun in the process. Our tips will help make sure your solar system looks as realistic as possible.

  1. Using poster paint and plenty of protective newspaper, paint your model planets in the correct colours. Work on one planet at a time and use pictures to help you. If you have more than one child involved in the activity then why not give them one planet each to decorate?
  2. As well as painting your planets, you’ll need to add distinguishing features to them – such as the rings around Saturn and Uranus. Make these by cutting a ring shape from thick cardboard, making the hole in the centre just wide enough to fit round the middle of the planets. Adults should take care of the cutting involved in this step to keep little fingers safe.
  3. As Saturn’s rings are made of ice and shiny rock fragments, covering the ring in glitter is a great way to replicate this. Use some PVA to stick the glitter in place and don’t forget to give it enough time to dry before fixing it to the planet.
  4. For Uranus, make a thinner ring using the same process. This planet rotates on a horizontal axis, which means that its rings run from top to bottom, so make sure you attach them to the planet correctly.

Displaying your solar system for kids

Once your solar system for kids has had time to dry, it’s time to display it. This makes a great addition to any kids’ bedroom but you can put it anywhere you like in the house. Perhaps the easiest way to display the solar system for kids is to suspend it from the ceiling. You can do this by threading a little fishing wire through the top of each planet. The wire can be attached to the ceiling using hooks or tape, and you can always tie a small knot at each planet to keep them in place. Alternatively, why not hang each planet up individually? This is great if you have lots of room and you could even start another solar system for kids project by getting your little ones to work out how far apart each planet should be to accurately show the solar system. Don’t forget to decide whether to display your solar system in a straight line from the sun to the farthest planet or whether to display them in a more accurate way by following a circular shape with the sun in the middle and the planets orbiting around it.

Remember:

It’s important to put the planets in the right order when displaying them. You can even teach your kid a fun mnemonic to remember the order – a popular favourite is “My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas” or “Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune”.  

Learning through play with astronomy for kids

So there you have it, encouraging a love of Science in your kids can be lots of fun when you make the solar system together. For extra fun, you can even add star stickers to your ceiling to show famous constellations or make smaller models to add moons and satellites to your planets. Why not give it a go and let us know how you get on making the solar system for kids at home.

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