How to build a solar system model for kids

Written by ruth o'neil
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Building a solar system model with your students, or children at home, can help them gain a better understanding of space. They can actually see the way the plants rotate around the sun and the size of the planets in comparison to each other. Work together with the kids to build a solar system model to give them some hands-on learning. Plan to make this solar system over a weekend, as you have to let paint dry on the planets before you continue with assembling the solar system.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Styrofoam balls (with diameters of 1, 1-1/2, 2, 2-1/2, 3, 4, 6 inches and 3 that have a diameter of 1 1/2-inch)
  • 10 different colours of paint, including yellow
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paper plates
  • Card stock
  • Markers
  • Skewers
  • 1 block of floral foam

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  1. 1

    Put one ball on each paper plate so it is easier to keep track of the planets. Label the plates and the styrofoam balls as such: Mercury (1 inch); Venus, Earth and Mars (1-1/2 inch); Jupiter (4 inch); Saturn (3 inch); Uranus (2-1/2 inch); Neptune (2 inch); Pluto (1-1/2 inch); and the Sun (5 inch).

  2. 2

    Pour some of each colour of paint onto the plates with the planets. Try to match the paint colour with the colour of the planet. Paint the styrofoam balls, taking care to completely cover the entire surface. Allow the paint to dry.

  3. 3

    Cut out a circle of card stock that fits around Saturn. Cut out a hole in the middle of the circle so you can wrap the rings around Saturn. Draw lines with markers to represent the rings. Glue the rings around Saturn.

  4. 4

    Assemble the solar system by sticking the skewers into each planet. Stick the sun at one end of the floral foam block. Continue with the rest of the planets and put them in the correct order from the sun.

Tips and warnings

  • To help make sure you completely cover the entire styrofoam ball with paint, stick one of the skewers into the ball to help you hold it without getting paint all over your hands. Stick the skewer into the floral foam to dry.
  • If you have trouble fitting all of your planets in a straight line on the foam block, stagger the skewers a little bit to make room for the planets and keep them from touching each other.
  • To help hold the rings around Saturn you can make a groove around the circumference with the point of one of the skewers. Put the glue and the card stock into the groove.

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