Preschool Science: The Solar System

This week we are preparing to do a CRAFT. We’ve been steadily working our way through the 4th day of creation with Alpha Omega Horizons preschool. We kept skipping over this big craft project about painting foam balls and making the solar system, well, this next week, we are going to do the big project.

The Horizons recommendation is to buy the different sized individual foam balls, then suspend them with string and thumbtacks. As I sat pondering the strange and unfamiliar objects in the craft aisle at Hobby Lobby, I located the foam ball section and was contemplating those.

I try to be a good steward of our cash, and I coupon, so when I noticed the foam balls were not on sale, and began to tally up the cost of the solar system, I observed that it would cost somewhere around $30. This seemed steep. I wandered over to a more comfortable aisle, the pre-made kit aisle, and found this:

And it was only $8.99, which turned into $5.40 after my 40% off coupon, which I always carry from the weekly flyer for just such an occasion.

So now we have a much better craft alternative for the non-crafty. Just make the kit! I can handle it.

This past week I learned two new things about the solar system.

First, a 4-year old can learn the word orbit and demonstrate it by orbiting around things, even spinning simultaneously. A 2-year old, on observing the orbiting, will very loudly volunteer to be the moon, spin around aimlessly, not orbiting anything, and run headlong into something solid, resulting in a crying school day interruption.

Second, I learned that Pluto is no longer a planet. It used to be a planet when I was in school, however it isn’t any longer. With the advent of better telescopes and astronomical observation in general, they have been able to discover a whole mess of other objects moving the same way as Pluto. They are called Trans Neptunian Obejcts (TNOs) and they exist in a band called the Kuiper Belt, at the farthest edge of the Solar System. They even found one TNO larger and more massive than Pluto, which begged the question, “Is Pluto a planet? Or just a TNO in the Kuiper Belt?”.

They had a big meeting, and a bunch of astronomers voted on it, and they said it is now a dwarf planet. For the full story, check here, where I also learned the three criteria to be a planet:

  • It should orbit the Sun.
  • It should have enough gravity to be spherical
  • It needs to be the largest gravitational force in its “neighborhood”, so either consuming or deflecting objects it encounters.

It is the third criterion that Pluto fails, and thus, it is now a dwarf planet. It’s in the Solar System kit I bought, so we might add it in or skip it altogether.

Did you know about the Pluto thing?  Have any other good preschool craft ideas on the Solar System?  Drop a comment and tell us about it!

For more fun and interesting preschool topics, be sure to head over to The Preschool Corner!

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2 Comments

  1. zelda March 8, 2011 at 2:38 am #

    Stopped by from HHM – thanks for the solar aystem ideas, we will be targeting this is May so nice to get a heads up on what others are doing :)

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  1. Preschool Science: Followup to the big CRAFT project! | Homeschool Science Press - March 3, 2011

    […] Well, we did it! And when I say we I mean my husband and the kids. Regardless, I wanted to post our amazing craft photo from the preparatory blog post last week. […]

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