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Sometimes teaching inspiration strikes suddenly. That was certainly the case with these solar system cookies.
We were getting ready to wrap up our solar system unit and I was wishing that I had something fun and cute planned. I wanted a hands-on activity to keep everyone’s interest on finishing our lesson – a tough task on the Friday before a holiday weekend! Suddenly I remembered how much my kids enjoyed making a cell cake. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, so I adapted that idea to fit this lesson.
I definitely did not want 9 cakes hanging around all weekend, so I decided cookies were a better way to go. Cupcakes would also be a cute option.
Solar System Cookies
Solar System Cookie Materials:
Images of the planets – We used a combination of our Science Encyclopedia and Google images.
Plates (optional) – This just keeps your table a little cleaner. We used saucers for the small planets and salad plates for the larger planets and the sun.
2 Rolls of refrigerated sugar cookie dough – You can make your cookies from scratch of course, but I took the easy way out.
2 Tubs of white frosting
Food coloring – red, yellow, blue, and green
4 Small bowls – The small bowls are handy for mixing the frosting and food coloring.
5 Spoons – You will need one spoon for each of the different colors of frosting.
2 Baking pans – I like to line mine with parchment paper for easy clean up.
Small sprinkles – red and blue
Confetti sprinkles – These will make up the asteroid belt
Sparkle gel icing – This will create the planetary rings.
Solar System Cookie Directions
Preheat the oven to the temperature listed on the cookie dough wrapper. Our cookie dough suggested 350 degrees.
Shape the dough into planets and the sun. The solar system will obviously not be to scale, but we tried to make some planets smaller than others. The sun should be the largest cookie by far. The cookie dough will spread while it bakes, so you might want to account for that. I don’t bake non-gluten-free cookies often, so I didn’t realize this and our larger cookies blended together. Oh well. Effort over perfection.
Pop the cookies in the oven. The cookies will vary in size, so ignore the baking time and just watch the cookies closely. Stay in the kitchen! The smaller cookies will finish first, so just take those out and put them on a cooling rack while the larger cookies continue baking.
Let the baked cookies cool. If binge watching Nailed It with my kids has taught me anything, it is to always let baked goods cool completely before decorating. At this point we left the cookies cooling on the counter and finished the rest of our school work.
Decorate the sun cookie. The sun cookie should be the largest cookie. Spoon a small amount of white frosting into one of the small bowls and mix in some red and yellow food coloring. Then just spread it on the sun cookie.
Decorate the planets. This is where the Science Encyclopedia and Google images came in handy. We frosted one cookie at a time, working our way away from the sun. I gave the kids free reign to use the frosting, food coloring, and sprinkles how they saw fit, but occasionally pointed out planetary features such as dark spots.
Arrange the planets in order. This was probably the hardest part of the solar system cookies project. It was difficult to really convey the distance between planets on my kitchen table. I thought about putting the plates on the floor so we had more space, but that seemed like a bad idea with my dog walking around. We talked about the distances as we were moving the cookie plates around the table, so the kids at least got the point, even if it was tough to visualize.
This was a fun activity to end our solar system unit. We talked about everything we learned over the last few weeks and I was happy to hear all that the kids remembered. This activity definitely kept their interest more than a worksheet. It was also a great incentive for finishing their other school work.
Are the cookies decorated in Pinterest perfect style? Nope. That is okay though! This is real life. Kids do not care about Pinterest. They just want to have fun while learning.
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