We took on the Universe as part of an A-Z STEM series which was no small feat! We simply used play dough to create a hands on model of our solar system that we could manipulate and play with. Then we used our free Solar System Coloring Page to align our solar system model.
Before we began, I was worried my Ms. Tiger (my little preschooler) was going to get lost; there is a lot to the universe that I myself and even well trained scientist are still learning. We did this activity over a few days (it takes us a bit longer as we develop, and photograph activities), and by the end I was thrilled with how much she had learned. For more letter based learning activities, click here to see our Letter of the Week series.
This book is nice for a simple introductory book to our solar system for preschool aged kids. It’s easy to understand and has great pictures to look at. We used this book as the cornerstone of our activity. I was able to find some more great books that look like they go more in depth, but are still geared toward children.
1. Look at a picture of the planet and look at the color, size, and texture and select what color play dough to use, as well as what other additions you may want to use (glitter, rocks, sand…) Form a ball and decorate.
For the large gas planets we rolled out the play dough and wrapped it around a plastic ball to conserve play dough.
To make bumpy textured planets and moons we wrapped the play dough with bubble wrap, squeezed it, and removed it leaving a nice bumpy texture.
To make the rings of the planets we bent two pipe cleaners together to form an “O”, then used a blob of play dough to attach it to the side of the planet.
Ms. Tiger made her own planet too, complete with two tones of play dough and rings. It was fun letting her have some creative freedom time.
Making Asteroids, Comets, and Stars with Play Dough
1. Look at a picture of stars, moons, comets, and asteroids. Talk about the color, size, and texture and select what color play dough to use, as well as what other additions you may want to use (glitter, rocks, sand…)
We made our stars using a star shaped cookie cutter, but you may want to make round balls. My daughter was a little star factory, she loved using our cookie cutter. Before I knew it, we had a whole galaxy of stars to play with… :).
Building Your Solar System
Scroll down to find our Solar System Printable
1. We placed our solar system on the floor in order starting with the sun and ending with the stars
1-Sun, 2-Neptune, 3-Venus, 4-Earth, 5-Earth’s Moon (on the side of Earth), 6-Mars, 7-Asteroid Belt, 8-Jupiter, 9-Saturn, 10-Uranus, 11-Neptune, 12-Comets, 13-Stars
1. Place the sun in the middle of the room and walk around it.
We each choose to be a certain planet, we figured out which one was closest to the sun, and we placed ourselves in order and walked. We noticed that the farther we were away from the sun, the more we had to walk/orbit.
Key Points We Talked About:
What is a planet? A large object shaped like a ball in space that orbits a star. Some planets are solid and some are gas. Some have rings and others don’t.
What planet do we live on? Earth
What is the largest planet? Jupiter
What is the smallest planet? Mercury (Pluto is no longer considered a planet-poor Pluto)
What is a moon? A moon is an object that orbits a planet.
How many moons does earth have? 1
Do other planets have more than one moon? Yes.
What is an asteroid? A space rock.
What is a comet? A ball of ice and snow.
What is a star? A hot ball of gas, the closest one being the sun. They are not really shaped like stars.What does orbit mean? To travel around an object.