Build A Solar System Model

Kids Science Projects

Getting you kids to build a solar system model is a perfect way to show how amazing our Planet is.

And making a model solar system is fun for kids who just like getting their fingers messy rolling modeling clay in sand, sticking strips of newspaper with glue and splattering red paint around!

This is one of our TOP TEN favorite home school science projects.

We made our model solar system when we were homeschooling our children William aged 7 and Catherine 5, but you could do this with much older children working more independently.

model solar system

I want to make clear that this homeschooling project is taken almost entirely from DK: The Young Astronomer by Harry Ford.

When you start homeschooling science, one of the annoying things is the number of books with beautifully illustrated science projects for kids which are largely impractical when you actually get down to trying them.

They often don't look that good in the end anyway!

We also found all those model solar system kits you buy and build at home generally over-priced and not that great.

There's nothing like kids science projects where you build a solar system model from scratch.

planet Earth

How To Build A Model Solar System

Materials

planet Earth

flour and water paste

planet Earth

red and yellow tissue paper

planet Earth

compass

planet Earth

paints and brushes

planet Earth

thin dowel sticks – one for each Planet

planet Earth

plant sprayer

planet Earth

thin cardstock

planet Earth

play sand (optional)

planet Earth

cocktail sticks

planet Earth

optional base – they suggest cardboard; we used an old wooden shelf

How To Build Your Sun

solar flares
  1. Blow up a balloon so it's about the size of a football. This will be your Sun.
  2. Make up some of our easy paper mache paste. We use a patent home school recipe which works really well and is really easy to make. I've put the paper mache recipe instructions here.
  3. Paste strips of newspaper all over your balloon. Build up layers of newspaper until you've got a coat of paper mache.
  4. Allow to dry. Paint the surface yellow.
  5. Place your cotton wool strips onto red and yellow crepe (or tissue) paper. Damp the paper with a plant sprayer and watch the dye run off the paper and get absorbed by the cotton wool. We loved this part!
  6. Allow to dry and then stick the orangey-yellow cotton wool all over the Sun. It gives the Sun a fantastic amorphous appearance so it no longer looks solid and you can almost imagine the solar flares.
  7. Flick specks of red paint onto the finished Sun to make Sun spots. Have fun!

You can see lots of ways to find out more about the Sun and the Solar system, including the best websites, in our page on space for kids.

How To Build The Planets

modeling clay planets

To build a model solar system, you'll need to get some modeling clay and roll them round into balls of various sizes for the Planets.

I did most of the rolling, the children helped measure the diameters (fun math activities!).

These are the approximate sizes you'll need (I haven't forgotten Pluto at 2mm – but you might decide to ignore him!):

  • Mercury: 2mm
  • Venus: 7mm
  • Earth: 7mm
  • Mars: 3mm
  • Jupiter: 72mm
  • Saturn: 60mm
  • Uranus: 22mm
  • Neptune: 22mm

Model Solar System Planets

  1. Use paint to color each of the planets. Look at some photos to get approximate colors. We rolled Jupiter and Saturn in sand to create more of a Planet effect.
  2. Make rings for the gas giants by measuring two circles on card, one inside the other. (See photo)
  3. Color and cut out the rings. Push some cocktail sticks through the Planets to support them, remembering to tilt the rings at an angle.
  4. Attach the Planets to dowel and the dowel to a base (cardboard/old shelf). We left all this to my husband Rob!

Home School Science

When you build a solar system model, you can organize all the Planets in the correct sequence from the Sun - but they won't be the right distance from it.

Isn't it mind-blowing to think that if Mercury were 10cm away from the Sun, Pluto would need to be 10m!

And there's lots more interesting space activities to try.

Voyager space probe
kids science experiments

Home school science projects for kids are a fabulous way of getting an idea of just how amazing the Planet we live on really is.


Homeschooling Science › Solar System


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