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One of the facts I wanted my kids to understand about the planets is that they orbit around the sun in a large ellipse.
Taking an idea from the Montessori Astronomy Album I received when I participated in KHT Montessori’s certificate program, I set up this simple activity to give my kids a concrete understanding of how planets orbit the sun.
Note: For more space-related activities, see my Space Unit Study page.
For this activity, I provided a tray with the following materials:
- Orange play dough (to make the sun)
- A blue ball (to represent the Earth)
- A pie tin (to create the orbit)
I invited my daughter to roll a ball of orange play dough.
Then I invited her to stick it in the middle of the pie tin to represent the sun.
Then she added the blue ball to represent the Earth. I showed her how to hold the pie tin to make the Earth orbit around the sun.
Super simple. Super easy. And lesson learned.
More resources to learn about the planets
More posts from Gift of Curiosity about the planets and solar system:
- Books about the planets and solar system
- Make a model solar system
- Planets Do-a-Dot Printables
- Solar System Lacing Cards
- Solar System 3-Part Cards
You’ll find more resources for learning about the planets on my Space Unit Study page and my Space and the Solar System Pinterest board.
Follow Katie @ Gift of Curiosity’s board Unit Ideas: Space & the Solar System on Pinterest.
Ducks n a Row
What a sweet, simple idea. My preschoolers will love this!
So simple yet so effective! Great idea. Thanks!
I teach science to first graders and needed more than one pie pan and ball so they could individually experience the sun/earth path. I ended up using paper plates that had a high rim. I had flat circular yellow foam shapes which I had the students put in the middle of each plate and gave them each a blue marble. I wanted the size proportion to be evident. It worked great! For the moon around the earth I gave them each a small blue plastic bowl from the dollar store and a cotton ball. This one was a bit trickier, however, I always tell them that if I bring all easy activities we wouldn’t be able to practice. Failing is the fun part where we get to try and try again.
Thanks for this great hands on idea : )
I’m so glad you were able to find an adaptation that worked for you and your students! Thank you for sharing your success.