Exploring the Solar System Together:
“We started painting a solar system kit and I was frustrated that I had to look up facts to teach them as we went. But I realize that it would have been better to let them ask me questions about the planets as we created the solar system. No wonder one of the kids got mad and wouldn’t participate! She just wanted to create, she didn’t want a lecture.”
There really isn’t a problem with taking a child with you on an exploration to answer a question. If you recall, that is exactly what I did when two year old Jack wanted to know how a rain stick worked and when he wanted to know about caterpillars. Don’t you be frustrated and neither will your child be frustrated (screaming child). Treat not knowing as a grand door to adventure and then take it together.
It works really well to just enjoy watching your children and commenting on whatever they are doing and how well the project is turning out. Then, because you are there and interested they may ask you questions. If you don’t know the answer just admit it. Tell them that you can all find out like I did when my granddaughters wanted to know how crystals were made. Then look in a book that you have put into The Spark Station on the subject or, if no book is available make a trip to the library together or go online.
While your children are engaging with things that interest them that you have put into The Spark Station you can engage in a familiar conversation. Did you know…. You only follow a statement like this up with something else if your children converse back. If they don’t just stay present, wait a bit and then throw out another tidbit.
Here is some great information that I found about the subject this mother was working with. It should give you great content for your Spark Station. Add some wonderful books with lots of pictures from the library and maybe a field trip to a planetarium or to the back yard for some star gazing.
Some exciting solar system activities:
Create a scaled down universe on your kitchen table using peas, fruit, and nuts. You’ll have a better sense of the vast size of the solar system.
Here is another solar system to make.
Make a planetarium, and you can create representations of the night sky in your house.
Create a star theater and show your family some cool constellations.
Make a solar system mobile.
In this game you can be the earth and understand the phases of the moon.
Here is an interesting fact: some scientists are not counting Pluto as a planet anymore. Here is an easy way to remember the planets. The eight planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Remember them with this little ditty: My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Neptune.
Here is a great 2 minute video that introduces the solar system to kids.
You can introduce your children to some fables about the sun and moon and stars. You will find them from many countries. Try Aesop’s fable, The North Wind and the Sun; or read a Maasai fable.
Some more interesting solar system facts.
Did you know that the inner solar system contains Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars? These four planets are closest to the Sun.
Did you know that the outer solar system contains Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto?
Did you know that the inner planets are separated from the outer planets by the Asteroid Belt?
Did you know that some scientists no longer count Pluto as a planet?
Your Spark Station can provide you and your children with a lot of fun as you learn about the Solar System.
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