Preschoolers can usually identify pictures of the sun, moon, stars and Earth. If teachers ask about other things found in our solar system, young students may respond with rocket ships, astronauts or aliens that fly in UFOs. Whether your preschoolers share facts about other planets, comets or tales of aliens living on the moon, bring the solar system alive in your classroom with these out-of-this-world activities.
Model Solar System
Invite preschoolers to help create a large model of the solar system for the classroom. Read books about the solar system such as "Solar System" by Julia Hillyard or "Let's Look at the Planets" by Laura Driscoll. Have preschoolers use butcher paper to paint large models of the sun, moon, planets, comets and other objects they read about during story time. Hang paintings on the walls, starting with the sun in one corner and branching out to the farthest planets. If space is limited, create a solar system out of Styrofoam balls and suspend the sun, moon and planets from the ceiling.
Bring in a refrigerator box or tape two large moving boxes together to make one tall box. Encourage preschoolers to help turn the box into a rocket ship. Cut a door near the ground for astronauts to enter the rocket. Then cut a few viewing windows near the top. Allow preschoolers to paint their rockets, adding control panel buttons on the inside and a rock name on the outside. Place pillows, binoculars and walkie-talkies inside the rocket ship so preschoolers can look at the stars or talk to central command while they blast off and explore the solar system.
Fill a spray bottle with two parts water and one part white tempera paint. Invite preschoolers to spray a sheet of black construction paper with the spray bottle to create the stars in the night sky. Let sheets dry and then have preschoolers use bright paints or stickers to add planets, the moon, the sun, rocket ships or comets. Invite preschoolers to create star constellations by using a hole punch to make holes in a pieces of black construction paper. Hold papers up to the light to see the stars shining through or mount constellations on sheets of white or yellow paper to make the stars appear to glow.
Let preschoolers tap into their imaginative side during your solar system unit. Read fun books about aliens such as "Aliens Love Underpants" by Claire Freedman or "We're off to Look for Aliens" by Colin McNaughton. Invite students to create their own aliens out of salt dough. Let salt dough dry overnight and invite students to paint their creations. Create alien blobs by filling squeeze bottles with paint. Have students drip blobs of paint on sheets of paper. Fold papers in half and then open them to see the aliens take form. Let alien blobs dry overnight. Have preschoolers finish their aliens by using markers, pipe cleaners or wiggly eyes to add details.
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