The Solar System: 5 Ways Kids Can Learn More
Disclaimer: The U.S. Department of Education does not mandate or prescribe particular curricula or lesson plans. This information is provided for the visitor's convenience and is included here as an example of the many resources that parents and educators may find helpful and use at their option. See the full FREE disclaimer.
The increased daylight at this time of the year may promote kids’ curiosity about the universe and our solar system. Spark kids’ interest with these suggested activities.
Learn more about space, the planets, sun, and moon: Let your kids know that the Earth is one of several planets in our solar system, with the sun at the center, and a moon that revolves around Earth. Our solar system is located in the outward spiral of the Milky Way galaxy, one of many galaxies in the universe. Check out some ideas for exploring the solar system.
Build your own satellite: Tell your kids that a satellite is a moon, planet, or machine that orbits a planet or star. Satellites can be used for space missions to study Earth, take pictures of the solar system, and find planets throughout the Milky Way and the universe. Using common household items, such as an empty juice box, a kitchen sponge, construction paper, scotch tape, and plastic dishes, help your kids assemble their own satellite.
Understand the phases of the moon: Let kids know that the moon’s varying appearance comes from sunlight reflecting off of it as it travels around the Earth. Using Oreos as models, kids can scrape off the cream filling to represent the different moon phases. Try watching an animation of moon phases and then see if kids would like to try rotating a smaller ball (moon) around a larger ball (Earth) with a light (sun) shining on the balls, to promote understanding of how the sun is responsible for the moon’s phases.
- 4. Read and write about the solar system: For younger kids, try reading together the e-book What Is the Solar System? Encourage older kids to develop imaginative writing skills by creating a fictional story using one or more planets as the setting. With them, explore the various planets that could play a part in the story. Will the story be about an exploratory mission from Earth, or will the story take place without involving Earth? What life forms will be included in the story?
- Sing about the solar system: For younger kids, try singing the “Family of the Sun,” sung to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.” The planets are introduced according to their distance from the sun, and kids can listen to the information in the song about each planet’s environment. Our friends from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum shared this song with us during a space-themed Let’s Read! Let’s Move! event held at the Department of Education. Eight groups of kids each learned one dance move for a particular planet and moved in circular orbits while singing “Family of the Sun.”
These activities are just a few of the resources you can try to help promote your kids’ interest in the solar system.
This feature is based on a blog post that originally appeared on free.ed.gov, a site that is now retired. Please visit ed.gov/FREE for more information.
Last Modified: 12/01/2015