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Many children are naturally curious about the solar system. I know both of mine were interested in everything related to outer space when they were young. Even now, at almost 10 and 13, they really enjoyed our solar system unit from NOEO.
We might as well capitalize on that curiosity and provide educational solar system resources to help kids learn about the universe.
Educational Solar System Resources for Kids
Solar System Books
Books are a wonderful way to encourage learning in any topic. Keep a basket full of books in an area that your children frequently hang out. I bet they will reach for a book when they are bored! I keep a basket of books in my office now, but when my kids were small we kept the book basket next to the living room couch.
National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space by Catherine D. Hughes
This book is full of information about our solar system and galaxy, but it is written in a way young children can understand. The pages are full of facts, but not long sentences. This can be a tough combination to find!
National Geographic Readers: Planets by Elizabeth Carney
This nonfiction book is a level 2 reader, so it is geared for a 2nd – 3rd grade reading level. The photos are beautiful, as I have come to expect from National Geographic.
This is a great book for young learners. The classic Cat in the Hat introduces the solar system to children through rhyme.
The Magic School Bus Lost in Space by Joanna Cole
Miss Frizzle’s class has a field trip to the planetarium planned. Things don’t go as planned (do they ever in Miss Frizzle’s class?), but the class still learns quite a lot about the solar system.
The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas
My kids have really enjoyed hearing this story for our family read aloud. This is fictional story, but does include a few planetary facts. The main character is a middle school girl who is dealing with the death of her father. The black hole is symbolic of her grief. Despite the sad tale, this is actually a cute story.
Solar System Themed Toys
Themed toys make great gifts or additions to lesson plans.
This planetarium guides children through painting and assembling a model of the solar system. It includes the complete instructions as well as a planetary fact wall chart.
My kids had this Melissa and Doug puzzle when they were preschoolers. It was a favorite puzzle for many years. They liked to build the solar system and then ‘travel through space’ by jumping from one planet to another.
This inflatable solar system is adorable. Children can play with the planets or hang them as decorations.
Magnetic playsets are a great way for imaginative play while cooped in small spaces. My kids put these in their travel bags when they were smaller. They were perfect for use on car trips or airplanes.
Kids will learn outer space facts while playing this card game with friends. There are two levels – easy and hard, so kids can progress or play with adults. We don’t have this particular Professor Noggin game, but have others. It is a great game to play in short amounts of time, like waiting for your food at a restaurant.
I love setting out Toobs to spark themed imaginative play. The space Toob would be fantastic in a space themed sensory bin or with play dough planets.
This kit includes everything needed to make three space themed craft projects – an experiment, a constellation lacing, and building a kaleidoscope.
Solar System Videos
Some kids absorb information best by watching. Videos are perfect for them. I also like to have educational videos available for sick days or when I just need a few minutes to get something done. I don’t feel too guilty when I give the kids extra screen time if they are watching something educational.
Magic School Bus
Follow Ms. Frizzle and her class as they learn (and teach) through crazy antics. Seasons 1-4 are currently available on Netflix. All of the old episodes are also available on DVD. In 2017 Netflix began making a new batch of episodes called Magic School Bus Rides Again.
Magic School Bus Season 1, episode 1: Gets Lost in Space
Magic School Bus Season 2, episode 11: Out of this World
Magic School Bus Season 4, episode 4: Goes on Air
Magic School Bus Season 4, episode 7: Sees Stars
Magic School Bus Season 5, episode 1: Old Planetarium
Magic School Bus Rides Again Season 1, episode 9: Space Mission Selfie
Ted Ed Videos
Ted Ed are short educational videos designed for kids. Ted Ed is affiliated with the famous Ted Talks, but are shorter and more engaging to hold a child’s shorter attention span. My son loves Ted Ed videos and watches them in his spare time.
Solar System Experiment Kits
Experiment kits are a great way to access multiple experiments with only one purchase. I love buying science experiment kits because the supplies are usually included. Having the supplies on hand means that I am more likely to actually do the experiments with my kids.
Solar System Field Trips
I love taking my kids on field trips. It is a way to cram so much information into just one day of learning. It also helps create interest and understanding in a way that is meaningful.
Planetarium – Many areas have planetariums that host amazing shows. Here is a list of US planetariums as of 2018.
Air and Space Museum – The Air and Space Museum in Washington DC is perfect for anyone interested in the solar system. It is the museum that I always recommend to families going to DC because I have never met a child that didn’t consider it a magical place. If you can’t go to DC, check out the exhibits online. It isn’t the same as going in person, but you can see a few of the exhibits.
Sky Map – We use our Sky Map app all the time. It is particularly useful when we are sitting outside on clear nights. It helps me answer the “What is that?” questions about the night sky.
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