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.
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.
flour and water paste
red and yellow tissue paper
paints and brushes
thin dowel sticks – one for each Planet
play sand (optional)
optional base – they suggest cardboard; we used an old wooden shelf
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.
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!):
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.
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.