Solar System Search
This activity can be used in conjunction with the StarChild Solar System Level 1 information.
1. Recognize names and descriptions of the planets of the solar system
2. Practice active listening skills
3. Follow oral directions
Solar System Search worksheet and bulletin board diagram (attached)
Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
Scissors and glue
Before distributing the worksheet, the teacher should display pictures and/or posters of the planets such as those found in the Solar System section of StarChild Levels 1 and 2. These can be used to stimulate a discussion of Earth and any other planet(s) the children might be familiar with. Students should be told that there are eight planets in our solar system and that each has its own name and special characteristics. Challenge the children to listen carefully to the descriptions you will give so that they will be able to match your description with the correct planet on the worksheet. Tell them that if they listen very carefully, they will be able to identify all eight planets.
Sample Teacher Script:
Look carefully at your paper. Find the biggest planet of all. Put your finger on that planet. The name of the biggest planet is Jupiter. Jupiter is a big, big ball of gas. Jupiter is bigger than all of the other planets put together. On Jupiter there is something called the giant red spot. The giant red spot is really gases that are turning very fast. Use your crayons to color a giant red spot on Jupiter. Jupiter has stripes of color on it. Color Jupiter's stripes tan, orange, and yellow.
Count the planets that have rings around them. How many are there? (Four of the planets have rings.) Put your finger on the planet that has the most rings around it. The name of this planet is Saturn. Saturn has many, many rings. Some of Saturns rings are very thin and some are very wide. Saturns rings can appear to be many different colors. Color Saturn yellow and color Saturns rings like a rainbow.
One of the planets that has rings is lying on its side. See if you can find the planet that is lying on its side. Its rings look like they go from top to bottom instead of side to side. This planet is Uranus. Uranus is a light blue color, but its rings are dark. Color Uranus and its rings.
The ringed planet that is farthest from the Sun is called Neptune. Neptune looks like a big blue ball. Some people say Neptune and Uranus are twins. How are they like twins? Color Neptune the same color as Uranus.
Put your finger on the planet you think is the smallest. This planet's name is Mercury. Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun. Mercury is a fast-moving planet. Mercury moves around the Sun faster than any other planet. Mercury has many dents in it where it was hit by rocks from space. Color Mercury brown or gray. Draw a space rock about to hit Mercury.
There are three planets that we havent talked about. One of them is our planet. Does anyone know the name of the planet we live on? Earth is the largest of the planets that do not have rings. You must look carefully to find the correct planet. Put your finger on the planet that is Earth. Water and land cover Earth. Did you know that most of Earth is covered by water? Color Earth part brown and part blue. Draw a picture of yourself standing on top of the Earth.
Venus is the planet that is almost as big as Earth. Put your finger on Venus. Venus is hard to see because thick clouds cover it. Venus thick clouds hold in heat from the Sun. Venus is a very hot planet. Draw yellow clouds all around Venus.
The last planet for us to color is Mars. Mars has a lot of the metal iron mixed in its dirt. The iron makes Mars have a red color. Many people call Mars the red planet. Mars has two moons. The moons are shaped like potatoes. Color Mars red. Draw Mars' two potato-shaped moons.
Cover your entire bulletin board with paper. Draw a piece of the Sun along one side and arcs for the 8 planet orbits round the Sun. (See attached sheet.) Have your class work as a group to decide which planet belongs on which arc, i.e. what is the order of the planets from the Sun? Once this is decided, instruct each student to cut out the planets and paste them onto the correct planet orbit according to your verbal instructions. (make sure you orient Uranus correctly!) So if you have 20 students, you will have 20 Earths along the Earth arc, 20 Jupiter's along the Jupiter arc, and so on.Vocabulary such as nearest, farthest, before, after, next, between, etc. as well as planet names and characteristics can be reinforced during this lesson. The planets in order from the Sun are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Note: This lesson may be taught over two or more days. A review of the names and characteristics of previously discussed planets should take place at the beginning of each lesson.