Thursday, April 26, 2012

Solar System Mobile

As I was tucking my sweet, sunny kid Adam into bed the other night, he asked me very innocently how does it get dark? I grabbed up my nearest ball of yarn and held it up to his light fixture and slowly turned it - explaining how the earth revolves and as it turns away from the sun it is cast into shadow, thus creating night.
I think it took him an hour to quiet down and stop asking questions! But I could tell the next morning that he had been up late into the night, pondering the mysteries of the universe - at least, the solar system!
A trip to the library the following day and a dig into Mama's craft drawer were obviously needed! Together, we made a planet mobile to hang in his room.

Materials: 10 styrofoam balls (we included Pluto) of various sizes
                  Paper for paper mache
                  Craft Paint
                  20 gauge galvanized steel wire (any sturdy wire will work)
                  Fishing line or string
                   Dowel rod

I rounded up some styrofoam balls of various sizes. I think I have a six inch ball for the sun, 3 four inch balls (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus), 4 three inch balls (Earth, Mercury, Venus, Neptune), 1 two inch ball (Mars), and 1 one inch ball (Pluto). I'm not sure if the sizes are all to scale with each other, I just used what I had on hand.
The kids helped recycle paper lunch sacks by ripping them to shreds. Any paper suitable for paper mache will work though.

Using a flour and water paste mixture (half a cup of flour to two cups of water, bring it to a boil and let it cool), we covered the styrofoam balls and let them dry.

I used plain old craft paint, mixed to different colors to paint the planets. I painted the trickier ones, like Earth, but the kids could easily handle the plain planets like Mars and Neptune.

For the rings around Saturn, I made a "nest" out of the galvanized steel. I then took two 3 inch pieces of the wire and bent it into a U, and pushed them into the sides of the ball, securing the rings.

I made 10 more U shapes out of the wire and inserted them into the tops of the styrofoam balls. This is what I attached the fishing line to.

I cut the dowel rod into two equal pieces (I should have used two dowel rods so the planets had more space) and notched out the center with a pair of wire snippers so that they could recces down into each other and not swivel. I used a piece of wire to bind them together.

Using fishing line, I strung the planets and the sun from the dowel rods and hung them from the ceiling.

No comments:

Post a Comment