When my daughter brought home a paper for a new school project, I was kinda excited for it.
I’m a “Pinterest Mom” and like helping the kids with their projects!
Since she didn’t give us the project rubric until THREE days before the project was due, we didn’t have a lot of time for anything elaborate.
We were able to put together this 3-D solar system model in one afternoon, including the trip to the store to get supplies!
How to Make a Solar System Model
Step 1: Gather Supplies
Thankfully, all of the supplies for this project could be found at our local Wal-Mart. (Yay for not having to drive to the craft store!)
Here’s what you need for this solar system model:
- an empty box (a long narrow one is best)
- black spray paint
- 10 styrofoam balls (1 giant, 2 XL, 2 large, 2 medium, 2 small)
- fishing line (or string)
- hot glue gun/glue sticks
- sponge brushes
- skewer (or pencil)
- paint (yellow, blue, green, orange, silver, white, brown, and red)
- beads (optional)
- scrapbook/poster letters and embellishments (optional)
While this looks like a long list, we had all of these supplies already, except for the styrofoam balls and 2 paint colors.
Rust-Oleum 330505 Universal All Surface Spray Paint, 12 oz, Matte Farmhouse Blackhesmartly 50 Pack Craft Foam Balls,White Polystyrene Smooth Round Balls, 5 Sizes Foam Balls and 2 Pieces Painting Brushes for Kids School Science Projects Arts and Crafts SuppliesMr. Pen- Fishing Line, 218 Yard, Nylon String, Fishing Wire, Fishing Line Clear, Clear String, Clear String for Hanging, Clear Fishing Line for Hanging Decorations, Fishing String, Clear Hanging WireHot Glue Gun with 40pcs Melt Glue Sticks, Mini Hot Melt Glue Gun Kit, Melting Glue Gun Set, Glue Gun Mini for Crafts and Arts, School, Home, Quick Repairs, Sealing20 Pcs Foam Paint Brushes, 2 Inch Foam Brush, Wood Handle Sponge Brush, Sponge Brushes for Painting, Foam Brushes for Staining, Varnishes, and DIY Craft ProjectsCreechwa Gradient Color Acrylic Scissors,Multipurpose Stylish Scissors, Stainless Steel Scissors with Clear Acrylic Handle, Stationery Paper Cutting Tool for Office, Home, School (Purple and Red)Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paint Set for Adults and Kids – 24-Pack of 12mL Paints for Canvas, Wood & Ceramic w/ 3 Art Brushes – Non-Toxic Craft Paint Sets – Stocking Stuffers for Girls and Boys
Step 2 : Paint Model Solar System Box
After getting all of the supplies, it’s time to paint the box.
We used a small moving box for this project. It wasn’t perfect, since we definitely could have used a longer box, but we already had it on hand and decided that we could make it work.
First, we cut off 3 of the box flaps. We left one long flap at the top of the box because Lyvi wanted to add her name to it.
Then, we painted the box black (inside and out). We added white speckles to it, in order to make it look more galactic.
We tied the flap of the box back to make it stay upright.
To do this, fold the flap back to where it is touching the top of the box and poke a hole through both pieces of cardboard. Then tie the flap to the top of the box using fishing line or string.
Step 3: Paint the Planets
This step was my girls’ favorite part! It was time to paint the planets of the solar system!
We found that using a sponge brush was easier than a paintbrush and covered the styrofoam faster. We also discovered that the styrofoam balls will soak up a lot of paint. So, don’t be afraid to really pile it on!
The most difficult part of this step was deciding what colors to paint some of the planets. We also had to make sure to get the planets the right size.
Here’s what we did:
- Sun (Giant) – yellow
- Mercury (Small) – silver/gray
- Venus (Medium) – orange/brown
- Earth (Medium) – blue and green
- Mars (Small) – red
- Jupiter (Extra Large) – brown with light & dark stripes
- Saturn (Extra Large) – tan/light gray
- Uranus (Large) – light blue
- Neptune (Large) – blue/purple
While the girls were busy painting, we made Saturn’s ring.
We cut a chunk off of the unused (and unpainted) half of the sun. Then cut that chunk down to an 1.5 inch thick and hollowed out the center. We attached Saturn in the center of the ring with 2 toothpicks.
Step 4: Hang the Planets
The first planet we placed in our solar system was the sun. We glued it to the left side of the box.
One of the guidelines for this project was that the planets had to be in order based on their distance from the sun.
Ideally, we would have wanted to line them up one after the other in front of the sun, but our box was too short. We improvised and hung the planets at varying depths inside the box to make them fit.
It wasn’t as pretty and orderly as we hoped, but they all fit and were in the correct order starting with Mercury and ending with Neptune.
To hang the planets, we poked a hole through the styrofoam ball with a wooden skewer, ran the fishing line through it, and tied a bead to the end. (If you don’t have beads, you can always use a big glob of hot glue.)
We poked a hole in the top of the box and glued the fishing line to the outside of the box. You have to hold the string until the hot glue cools and hardens a little, or the planet will slip and fall.
Step 5: Label the Planets
Finally, it was time to label the solar system! (This was another project requirement.)
I made Lyvi write the names of the planets on a piece of card stock (regular paper would work too) and cut them out. It was hard for her to write small, but she did a great job!
We hot glued the labels to a toothpick and stuck them in the planets.
Step 6: Decorate the Solar System Model
This step is optional, but Lyvi was more than excited to have her name big and bold on the front of her model solar system!
We used scrapbook letters that I already had on hand.
We also used old Star Wars greeting cards that I had to decorate the side of the box. What kid doesn’t want a Death Star on their Galaxy project?
As far as school projects go, this one was pretty fun, despite the short notice she gave us.
With all 4 of us working on it (it was a family affair), we finished this solar system model in a few hours!
And most importantly, Lyvi LOVES it! She said that it was the coolest one in her whole class!
I hope that your model turns out just as great and that you have as much fun making it as we did!