Teaching the Planets

Teaching science is always a challenge.  You need to provide accurate information in an interesting and entertaining fashion about a subject that many students find complex and boring.  This can be especially true when teaching about the planets.  to most people they are something one learns about, but has no effect upon their lives, and are just there.  Are there fun ways to teach about the planets?  of course there is, it just takes a little time and thought.

First step is to get the class thinking about the planets and how people have pondered them for thousands of years.  Astrology seems silly, but it can fascinate young minds, and the planets were very important to astrology.  Get the children to use the Internet to learn about where the planets were at the time they were born, and then see which planet is “important” to their sign.  This may sound silly, but it get the class into astronomy and thinking about the planets.

Now you need to design a solar system, and that can be done several ways.  You can use the bulletin board with the sun in the center and then add in planets.  Around each planet include its moons.  You can also get the class to build a planet mobile using papermache and around each planet, put pins to represent the moons.  Doing it this way the planets become three dimensional, and a lot more interesting and fun.

With the mobile, have them look up the planets for color as well as number of moons.  The color is the result of gases in the atmosphere as well as soil and it can tell a lot about a planet.  They should add in the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn.  They will discover that there is another ringed planet and the Pluto has an irregular orbit.  Create a Planet Trivia section and put that on the bulletin board, under a photograph of each planet.  It can become a contest to see who can find the most facts, the weirdest facts or a fact the no one else knew.  Give extra credit and the students will soon be discovering more about the planets that most people think is possible.

That is the fun way to teach a class about the planets!