The solar system and space are amazing. Teaching kids about the solar system is important in showing our place in the Universe. Most children will learn about the solar system in school, or even some basics in child care, but parents can prepare kids with the basic concepts at home.
Here are 4 tips for teaching kids about the solar system:
- Start with information about the basics of a solar system.
- Activities to learn about the solar system.
- Facts about the solar system for kids.
- Take it outside.
1. What is a solar system?
A question to get started is ‘What are planets?’ The answer is that planets are round objects that circles the Sun, which is a star. This naturally leads on to Earth being the planet that humans live on, which is really profound for kids to start understanding their place in the solar system. The moon is a satellite that orbits the Earth. The solar system is simply the Sun and everything else that orbits it. There are eight planets in our solar system - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The galaxy we are in is called the milky way.
2. Activities to learn about the solar system
Although planets are all round, they come in a variety of sizes. A great activity for teaching kids about the solar system is to show the differing sizes of the planets and the order of the planets from the sun. Teaching them the order of the planets can assist with kids learning about the planets and memorising the names of the planets. The closest planet to the Sun is Mercury and the planet that is the farthest away is Neptune.
A great way to show this can be by having your child draw the different size planets from the closest to the furthest away from the sun. A sensory activity can also be incorporated into explaining the solar system, by having kids find objects around the house that can represent the size of the planets. Examples could be a soccer ball, tennis ball, a coin and fruit and vegetables (such as, an orange or apple).
If the kids enjoy these activities, they will probably also enjoy some science experiments for kids from here.
3. Facts about the solar system for kids
There are so many interesting facts about the solar system. A game of fun facts about the solar system for kids can assist in expanding their understanding of how the solar system works. The questions can also be varied depending on children's age, as concepts of gravity can be incorporated at a later stage.
- What is the hottest planet? Venus.
- Is the sun a planet or a star? Star.
- What is the smallest planet in our solar system? Mercury.
- Which planet is known for having rings around it? Saturn.
- What is an example of a dwarf planet? Pluto.
Teaching kids' facts about the solar system can be incorporated into activities, such as asking the question ‘What is the biggest planet in our solar system?’ and then getting your child to draw or find an object to represent Jupiter. Showing the footage of when humans first landed on the moon and the NASA Mars exploration rover, can be great ways to ignite your kids' interest in the solar system.
4. Take it outside
A great outdoor activity, and to really assist with teaching kids about the solar system, is to go outside and show them the stars, moon and planets. The moon phases can be explained by getting your kids to look at the moon and say what shape they can see. An hour or so after sunset, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn can be seen with the naked eye.
A camping trip away from the lights of the city can also showcase both the stars, moon, planets and the milky way more clearly. The delight in a child seeing a shooting star for the first time is a precious memory. A telescope could be used for a more detailed view of the moon, planets and the milky way. Look out for opportunities to show your children significant meteorological events, such as when there is a supermoon, asteroids, comets or meteors. Some of these events may only happen once in your child’s lifetime.
Teaching kids about the solar system is important in igniting their natural curiosity about how the world works. Start by teaching kids the basics of what a solar system is, followed by activities and fun facts to reinforce the information. Childrens imagination is further sparked by noticing the moon, planets, stars and milky way and thus feeling a sense of connection with the world around them.
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