Teaching kids about the solar system can be fun for all involved. There are lots of activities that you can do — whether you are a teacher or a parent — to help kids learn about the scale of the solar system and more about the planets and moons within it. Most people know that the solar system is massive, and that there are other planets in it that are different from Earth. However, what everyone might not know, especially younger kids, is the science behind it all. Here are some activities that you can do with your kids or students to learn more about the solar system, including the characteristics of different planets, the distance between each planet, and more.
Visit Museums and Events
Attending museums and events centered around outer space and the solar system can be a fun day out for a school trip or family activity. There are lots of options to choose from, including the Space Foundation Discovery Center at discoverspace.org. Museums and discovery centers can be an interactive and fun place for kids to learn more, with games, exhibitions, and learning programs designed for all ages.
Make a Solar System Model
Many kids don’t realize how far away the planets in the solar system are from each other. If you are mainly teaching kids about the distances between the planets in the solar system, then one of the best ways to do this is by building a model. This can be a fun and creative way to demonstrate the distances and even the size differences between planets either in the classroom or at home. If you’re building a model where the distances between the planets are to scale, then you’re going to need quite a large space to do it in – at least thirty feet, so it’s a great classroom activity but you could also use your garden or clear out a large room if you want to do it at home.
Planet Scale Drawings
Drawing the planets can be a fun way for kids to learn more about them, and their sizes in relation to others. One good way to help kids get a better idea of how big the Earth and the Moon are when compared with each other, for example, is to draw a circle with a sixteen-inch diameter on a chalkboard or a large piece of paper. Then, get the kids to draw the Moon at a size that they think it would be in comparison – to be correct, it should be around four inches in diameter. You can do this with other planets, too – find a planet-scale generator online to find out what sizes the different circles need to be.
Design a Poster or Brochure
Sometimes one of the best ways to learn about something new is to have to explain it to somebody else, and the same goes for kids who are learning about the solar system. Designing a poster or a brochure to explain the solar system to somebody else can be a great activity to do at home or in the classroom. Along with being a creative and artistic project where kids can be free to go wild with their design skills, it’s also a great way to get them researching and asking more questions about the solar system to make sure that they get the information right.
Watch Movies and TV Shows
One of the easiest ways to get kids interested in learning more about the solar system is by watching movies and TV shows. There are tons of great, kid-friendly movies and shows out there that are sure to spark an interest in the solar system in your little ones. Or, for kids who are already interested in learning more about the solar system, there are plenty of great child-friendly documentaries to watch where concepts are explained in ways that are easy to understand and take in.
Look for Planets and Stars
A telescope is a great investment if you are a parent of kids who want to learn more about the solar system. On a clear night, you can go out and look through the telescope, or even head to an area that has low light pollution and just look up at the sky. Looking at the planets and stars in the sky and spotting them can be a lot of fun, and a great way to make the lessons your child has learned about the solar system so far more tangible.
The solar system is vast and full of interesting things to learn. Whether you are a teacher or a parent, there are lots of fun ideas when it comes to teaching kids more about it.