STREAM Activity: Balloon Solar System
Learn the size and scale of the solar system with balloons!
Activity best for children age 2 and up
Our solar system is one type of planetary system that has a yellow dwarf star in the middle with 8 planets orbiting around it. All of the solar system’s unique planets have different sizes, colors, and characteristics. The 4 smaller planets closest to the sun are called “Terrestrial planets,” meaning that they have rocky, solid surfaces. The 4 planets that are further away from the sun are called “Jovian planets.” These Gas Giants do not have solid surfaces because they are largely made up of gasses, like hydrogen and helium. In this activity, we will explore a fun way to think about size and scale the solar system – with balloons!
Materials you’ll need:
Balloons (assorted colors)
Where does each planet fit in the solar system model?
What makes the planets different from each other and why are some bigger?
How does creating a model help us learn?
You will need string, scissors, and an assortment of balloon colors.
Choose the colors for each of the planets and blow up your balloons according to scale. The four planets closest to the sun are smaller: Mercury is grey, Venus is white and yellow, Earth is green and blue, and Mars is red. The four planets further from the sun are much larger: Jupiter, the largest, has orange tones, Saturn is hazy-yellow, Uranus is blue-green, and Neptune is blue.
String your planets in order and step back to observe their sizes!
Grown Ups-Are you looking for more ways to extend your child’s learning? Check out these extension activities to build upon today’s STREAM activity!
Little Planets by Chris Ferrie and illustrated by Lizzy Doyle
Teaching children the solar system is not only an opportunity to explore themes in science, geography, history, and art, but also in… math! Models are an important way to develop understanding of relative size, distance, and scale relationships. See if you and your child can make a solar system with a sun, or one that is more accurately scaled. For example, if Jupiter was the size of a basketball, Earth would be the size of a marble!