Year Five – Solar System Project

I had a change this week from the toddlers. Instead I was in my son’s year five class talking about the solar system for their day and night topic. The teacher had asked me to come in as an ‘expert’ because astronomy is my hobby.

We decided on a session where we would act out the solar system on the playground and then do some model making.

Acting-out the Solar System – Roll Play
I have a set of inflatable planets which were held by the children. We all lined up and marched round the sun holding the planets on our heads. As we marched round it became clear that the planet closest to the sun – Mercury – was orbiting more times than the planet furthest from the sun – Neptune and that the planets didn’t stay in line.

Half the class played the solar system whilst the other half watched. And then they swapped over. The children loved this and wanted to do it over and over again changing the planet they were representing each time.

But we couldn’t linger outside playing planets when there was model making to be done.

Making the Solar System – The Crafty Bit
We made two models of the solar system – one to hang from the ceiling and one to sit on the side.

The mobile model was made from paper spun balls, a large piece of card and fishing line. The stand-a-lone model was made from an A2 box (the one we send our A2 paper out in) soft modeling clay and matchsticks.

The planets the children made were excellent and they’d managed to include details of the main features of each planet. Very well observed. The model makers even managed to get the sizes of their planets more or less correct with Jupiter and Saturn being much bigger than the other planets.

Questions and Answers – Discussion
The children had a list of questions that they wanted answered so whilst we were making we chatted about the questions and most of the time they gave me the answers which I would then expand upon. It was fantastic to see the children really thinking about what they already knew and applying that knowledge to the question. Even if the answer they had given me wasn’t exactly correct they weren’t far off.

Making Aliens – The Arty Bit
Once all the planets had been made and the box and card painted black the children wanted to use the Patplume more. So we had a bit of fun making aliens whilst we talked about the solar system and astronomy in general.

The children had free range on making their aliens. The artist in me was blown away by what they made. Some were snake like whilst others had bodies, heads and arms – they were all so different. It’s amazing what’s in their heads and they found away of expressing it using the soft modeling clay.

We squeezed a lot into our hour and half session – roll play, craft, discussion and even some art.

I had a fantastic morning involving three of my passions – art and craft, astronomy and working with children. So, many thanks to Year 5 at Brabyns Prep School, to Mrs. Munro for inviting me in and making me so welcome.

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