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Astronomy Unit: Planets

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I can't believe this is the very last week in June, which means it's the very last week of our Astronomy Unit, and also the very last week of our school year!  Part of me is SUPER excited, but another part of me is quite nervous about the year ahead.  Seeing as we homeschool year round, July is the start of our new school year.  Next week you'll notice a few more activities on our shelves.  (Crazy to think about, I know.)  There will be activities in a few more subject areas.  So much to plan and think about...

I'm hoping, I will be organized enough by the end of the week to write a post about our schedule, classroom, calendar etc., but we'll see.  I'm making no promises.  My husband is in the process of returning to work after two years of being home, so it appears that everything will happen all at the same time, which means it might take me longer to be as organized as I want to be.

Still, we're moving forward.  I've gotta say I'm very excited about this week's activities.  My husband and I spent so much time reading and studying for this week, as neither one of us knows much about the planets or the solar system.  We have stacks of books from the library. Pathetic I know, but I always want to make sure I know and understand everything I'm teaching the kids, so if they have questions, (which Dinomite usually does), I can answer them with confidence.

My goal for the week was to create one activity for each planet.  Then also to present the solar system, order of the planets, asteroids, etc.  It's worked out pretty nicely.  I already know the kiddos are going to have a great week!

My printer stopped working towards the end of the week, so you'll notice many hands on activities without directions or control cards. All activities will be demonstrated before the children attempt them.

The Solar System
This activity is simply 3 part nomenclature cards for all of the planets, moon, sun, and a few other vocabulary terms. 

 Source:  I found these free cards at The Helpful Garden.

The Planets by Name
Bulldozer still really struggles with his writing, so I'm hoping these tracing pages will make him quite happy.  The more he practices the better he'll get!

 Source:  I found these free printables as part of a pack at 3 Dinosaurs.

The Planet Mars
This is just like last week's moon surface activity.  The kiddos will identify the items on the 4 cards and then find them on the planet using the magnifying glass if needed. When they are finished, Dinomite will write each of the words on his erase board.  Princess and Bulldozer will write the first letters of each word.

Source:  I created this activity using images from Wikipedia.

Counting Asteroids
 The rocks look so much darker in the picture than in real life.  Sorry about that.  Included in the basket are cards for numbers 1-10.  It's been a while since I had the kiddos count out each number.  The bowl is filled with "asteroids" or little stones.  As I present this activity we'll be talking about the Asteroid Belt.

Solar System Patterns
The kiddos have all graduated from simple finish the pattern tasks. I'm hoping they'll do just as well with this activity.  It's been a while since we practiced cutting.

Source:  This printable was part of a pack at 3 Dinosaurs.

Addition with Moons & Asteroids
As I've said before, Princess LOVES addition and subtraction, just numbers in general.  She'll be thrilled to see this activity back on the shelves.  I love that I can acclimate it to any theme we have!

Source:  The free addition wheels are from Montessori for Everyone.

Our Planet: Earth
There were a million ideas I could have used to incorporate geography in our planet study, but I opted to go easy, and have them review their continent names.  The kiddos will color the continents green and oceans blue, labeling them all as they go.

Source:  This printable is from Crayola.

Planets in Order from Closest to Farthest From the Sun
The kiddos each have a bag with all 8 planets labeled.  Also included in the activity is a giant sun they'll glue at the beginning of their paper.  The kids will color each of the planets.  Using glue, the kiddos will glue their planets in order from closest to farthest from the sun.  It may take a little while, but I do believe the kiddos will really enjoy it.  I'm not sure if you can see the control card at the top with the order of the planets.

 Source: The idea and printable for this activity came from My Montessori Preschool.

The Planet Earth: Living vs. Nonliving
Considering our planet is the only planet with life on it at this point, I figured it would be great to talk about the difference between living and nonliving things.  The kids will separate items in the basket into the two categories.

The Planet Jupiter
There were so many things I would have loved to do to teach about the planet Pluto, however, Dinomite kept talking about the Great Red Spot, so I knew I should probably focus on that. Several sources stated the Great Red Spot as a hurricane of sorts, that has continued to rage for a very long time.  The activity above will demonstrate how a hurricane is formed and also will look very much like the Great Red Spot.  The kiddos pour in a couple drops of both red and yellow food coloring . With a spoon, they stir the water. The colors will spread and spin, showing what a hurricane does. They'll notice after they stop stirring, the hurricane will still continue to move.

 Source: The idea for this activity came from SFC.

The Planet Venus
 We read that Venus is known for it's thousands of volcanoes. Since the kiddos aren't really sure what volcanoes do, except for what they've seen on The Land Before Time and Dora the Explorer, I thought it would be fun to create our own (in a very simple way), but to also see the chemical and gas reactions, that are so prevalent on Venus.

The kiddos will scoop about 1 teaspoon of baking soda and a couple drops of red and yellow food coloing into each little cup.  They will then pour the vinegar into the large pouring container, using the funnel.  One by one they'll add vinegar to each of the cups, watching four volcanoes erupt. I chose four, because I knew the kiddos would not be okay with just doing it one time.  They will be able to add more vinegar until it is gone.

The Solar System
It's one thing to learn the planets order in relation to the sun, but another thing to learn that they all move around the sun, just like the Earth.  In this activity the kiddos will use the image in the book provided to create their own solar system, putting the planets in the right order moving along in their own space. The paint brush will be used to draw the lines shown in the book.

Source: The idea of this activity came from I Can Teach My Child.

Practical Life & Sensorial:
The Planet Neptune
 The planet Neptune is known for its high winds and hurricanes, among other things.  To demonstrate the effects of high winds, the kiddos will be given a basin of water (representing the gas materials) and a straw. Using their straw they will blow into the basin, without touching the water, to create lots of surface activity.  Simple, but fun at the same time.

The Planet Mercury
 Mercury is much like the Earth's moon, however it is more metal like and has wrinkles, due to the heat and an absence of many other things.  To demonstrate the similarities and differences, I brought out our "moon" sphere.  The kiddos will practice wrapping it in foil. When they are finished they will see all the same crater marks etc., but also the wrinkles that are seen in Mercury.

Spooning Planets
 Once again, the pictures makes these marbles out to be so much darker than they are.  They have multiple colors all over them.  The kiddos will practice spooning the planets from one bowl to another.

The Planet Saturn
Saturn is known to have the most beautiful set of rings surrounding it.  What better way to celebrate beauty than with "jewels" or glass beads. The kiddos will create the planet using glass beads, to see just how beautiful it looks!

 Source: The free printable for this activity came from 3 Dinosaurs.

The Planet Uranus
Uranus is known for being tilted on it's axis. To visually show the difference, the kids will practice hula hooping around their waists, demonstrating what the rings around other planets look like, and then hula hoop around their arm, to demonstrate the difference of  Uranus' rings.

I'm hoping with individual activities for each planet, the kiddos will remember them better and associate them with at least one theme or topic.  Most important, I do believe they'll be having lots of fun in the process.  Hopefully they will have as much excitement as I do about all the different activities!


  1. These are really fantastic hands-on activities! Love the volcano association. :)

  2. I have to bookmark this for future reference :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a wonderful and complete assortment od activities for a space/planet/astronomy theme. I love them all and will save for when we do this theme. Stopping by from Teach Me Tuesday!

  4. What a great collection of activities; pinned! Thanks for sharing it at Mom's Library!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing at Discover & Explore this week. I'm featuring you at Edventures with Kids (I think Shaunna is also highlighting your amazing posts). You have a wonderful blog - loving all your ideas!

    1. Thank you so much! I'm flattered. I always get excited when I have a post that matches up with Discover & Explore's theme for their link up. :)

  6. Thanks for putting your best efforts and giving such informative post.. Keep sharing this good work.
    solar Hot water System

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Thank you! These are wonderful ideas! My guys are older but all on the spectrum and I was looking for hands on ideas to supplement what they will be learning and your blog is great! Would you be able to put the mars planet and cards available to print?

  9. I have just started home schooling my four year old and found your blog. THANK YOU! I absolutely love everything you put together. We are about to start the dino unit and cannot wait to start this one : )

  10. I cannot wait to try your experiments with our kiddos These are awesome. Thank you for all the work you put into this. :)