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Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System Art Project
I am working with a preschooler and a Kindergartener- I like to do my unit studies on things that both kids will enjoy. Also I like for the projects and activities to be a little challenging but do not require me to pretty much do it for the child. I don't think there are many kids who are not fascinated by the Solar System, Outer Space, and all that entails. So this was a fantastic unit for us to work on, we read- Magic School Bus : Lost in the Solar System to kick off this unit, and several times throughout, we also used it as a reference for our projects and activities.
Their favorite thing we did so far was to create our own Solar System. Like I said the kids are younger,so while we did reference various pictures of planets in our book, as well as online- I focused on process more than final product. Yes all our planets are the same size ( yes,I did leave out Pluto on purpose) and they are not realistically colored, but the kids were able to complete the majority of this project on their own- which is ideal whatever age they are at. I really think that projects should be adult led but not adult controlled. We did discuss as we were putting our Solar System together that the planets were different sizes, made up of different materials, varying distances from the sun and that this was just a model. They were easily able to understand from this project that the planets orbit around the sun, they were able to count and learn how many away each was- ie.. earth is 3rd planet from the sun, I was able to demonstrate to the kids how the earth rotated on its axis and orbited the sun. So for their age I think they were able to learn a lot from this model. It is also a very thrifty craft, almost all items were found at Dollar Tree, with the exception of the golf tees, these are inexpensive at Walmart or your husbands golf bag-haha.
round wreath foam (Dollar Tree)
small square foam(Dollar Tree)
2 packs of Ping Pong Balls (Dollar Tree)
9 Golf tees
assorted acrylic paints
Black spray paint
hot glue gun/sticks
We started by painting the floral foam pieces black, at first we painted it with a acrylic craft paint and a brush, but the foam began to crumble and quickly sucked up a lot of paint. So I stole borrowed a can of black spray paint from hubby's garage and gave them about 2 thick coats-this worked out much better.
Spray paint your golf tees as well unless you got them in black, mine were from a random bag I picked up at a yard sale, knowing one day they would come in handy (glad to see that day came, sometimes it doesn't and I just feel like a hoarder)
While your base and tees are drying you can paint the planets, so grab the ping pong balls.
We looked at pictures online and in our book and chose similar colors but I pretty much let the kids do their own thing, sometimes they used a paintbrush, or dabber, and sometimes they just rolled the ball around in the paint.
If like, you can dab or splatter paint your foam forms with white paint once the black is dry- we did this to resemble stars, asteroids, and the milky way.
When our planets were dry I hot glued them to the tee's ( mom got to be a little crafty too see) , and we pressed them into the foam, we did put them in order and tried to lean each tee out a little to represent the varying distances.
Both of the kids thoroughly enjoyed this project, learned many things since we talked about it as we built it, and were able to complete the majority of it with little to no help- this is the perfect kind of art project I think for younger ones like preschool through early elementary.
I also highly suggest using our 100 page Solar System Printable with this unit.