In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about solar system and space. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Solar System topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching About the Solar System
If possible visit a natural history museum or planetarium together and explore. Many museums have programs, activities, and guided tours for students. Before leaving for your field trip, discuss the Solar System and have students come up with questions they would like to ask or find the answers to as they explore the museum. You may also want students to research space phenomena that was not discussed during class. Students can take notes and draw pictures and share what they learned with the whole class.
Divide the class into pairs or small groups and have them prepare a presentation and a poster on a planet or celestial body, such as a comet or asteroid. They can visit the library to find images of their planets and look up more information, such as surface temperature, diameter, and distance from the Sun. Would they like to live on their planet? Why or why not?
Many cultures and communities have folk tales about how the Moon, Sun, and stars came to be. As a reading and social studies connection, have your students look up different folk tales and retell them to the whole class. You may also want to choose a book to read together or have students create stories of their own. Encourage them to be creative and illustrate their stories.
Help your students remember significant features and the order of the planets by “acting out” the Solar System. Create groups of nine or more students and assign a planet or celestial body to each group. For homework ask your students to prepare a costume and a small speech to help others identify their planet. Finally, have each group work together to act out the orbit of their planets for the class or another class in the school.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching About Solar System
Star Light, Star Bright
Together with your child, observe the night sky over a week. How does the sky change over time? You may want to research different constellations and planets that come into view in your area by visiting your local library or the Internet. Many communities and local colleges have astronomy enthusiasts who meet and stargaze together.
Solar System at Home
Have your child build his or her own model of the Solar System. You can use a hanger and different balls or fruits to create a planet mobile. It is important for your child to create the planets in relative size. For example, Jupiter is the largest planet and so the largest object should represent it. Uranus and Neptune are similar in size, so your child may want to use the same object, but different colors, to represent those planets. You and your child can research the relative sizes on the Internet, or look at models in encyclopedias and other reference books.