Free watercolor solar system planets to make a DIY cardboard science project craft illustrating to preschoolers and kindergartners how planets orbit the sun. [Video tutorial is included.]
The Montessori cultural and science curriculum starts at the pre-K level and continues through the elementary years. Children are exposed to the concepts of a Big Bang and planetarium as young as three years of age! And since planets and the cosmos are genuinely an endless source of fascination to children, Montessori methodology has a fun way of introducing the solar system to developing minds. This Solar System cardboard DIY turns the complicated abstract concept of the solar system into something very concrete and thus easier for children to grasp. Besides, you can make it at home from recycled materials and free watercolor solar system planets printable!
So, bring experiential learning to life and show curious scientists how planets revolve around the Sun and not the other way around. (Thanks to Nicolaus Copernicus!) Who is ready? Grab your free watercolor planets printout, and let’s get crafty! We will be turning conceptual learning into hands-on learning by doing, which is at the core of Montessori philosophy.
What Materials Do you Need for Solar System Cardboard DIY
Here is the list of materials you will need to make this DIY Solar System:
- 8 pieces of cardboard (I am using recycled frozen pizza inserts)
- cardboard base
- geometric compass (to trace circles)
- black and white paint
- bio glitter (optional)
- a chalk marker (for drawing orbits)
- a wooden skewer
- hot glue gun
- a glue stick
- pony beads
- ✄ planets and the sun cutouts (download a freebie below)
Montessori Cultural and Science
Although the solar system falls into the ‘cultural and science’ area of the Montessori curriculum, it is a theme that is applicable to other areas of learning. For example, you can include math by offering a child to count the planets starting from Mercury to Neptune. You can also simulate a rocket launch and count backward from ten to one. Remember to make learning exciting, engaging, and fun!
First, gather eight cardboard pieces. (I used round pizza inserts for the three larger ones, so I did not need to cut those pieces in a round shape.)
If you are using regular-sized cardboard, trace circles using a geometric compass. Then, cut them out and paint them black on one side. Each circle should be progressively smaller by about half an inch.
Optional: Arrange the cutouts one over the other progressively, and using a toothbrush, sprinkle a little bit of white paint. You can finish it with a dab of bio glitter over the wet paint to give it a galaxy effect.
The next step is to assemble them one on top of the other and perforate a hole in the middle. (I used a geometric compass for that.)
Then, hot glue a wooden skewer perpendicular to a base (I am using another cardboard piece). The next step would be to thread the cardboard on a skewer, threading a pony bead in between each. Lastly, glue a toothpick to the planets and arrange them according to their orbits.
Present the lesson starting with the sun and the earth since these two elements are most familiar to a child. Thereafter, introduce other planets in relation to their position relative to the sun and the earth. Explain that each planet revolves around the sun. As a gross motor twist, you can offer a child to walk around the ‘sun’ relative to how far or near the planet they are presenting is to the sun. This will help little ones grasp the concept of ‘orbit’ and their relative distances and will also illustrate why certain planets are hotter and others colder.
Watch the video tutorial below for full instructions.
Solar System Cardboard DIY
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) was born on Feb 19, 1473, in Poland. He was a Renaissance mathematician and an astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at its center. His hypothesis that the earth is not the center of the universe around which everything revolves caused a collapse of scientific dogma. However, such a model revolutionized how we then viewed the world by constructing the Heliocentric theory of Earth’s relation to the Sun.
This Heliocentric theory replaced the Ptolemaic geocentric theory, which held that the Sun and other planets revolve around Earth. So, Copernicus proposed that the planets revolved around the Sun when most people believed that Earth was the center of the universe. Although his model wasn’t entirely correct, it formed a strong foundation for future scientists, such as Galileo, to build on and improve humanity’s understanding of the motion of heavenly bodies.
This Solar System Cardboard DIY is an exciting way to celebrate his birthday!
How do you celebrate Nicolaus Copernicus’s birthday? Have you ever made a DIY cardboard solar system? Leave a comment if you did!
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