My preschoolers’ insatiable curiosity never ceases to amaze me. After playing with our Solar System Sensory Bin this summer, they continue to be fascinated by outer space. And despite only being 3 and 4, they were determined to learn the names of all the planets and their order in the solar system. I made these space stones to help them, an easy way to play with and learn the planets for preschool.
Planets for Preschool
We have been Studying the Stars all summer… and my preschoolers still can’t get enough! Stars have expanded to a broader study of planets for my preschoolers. These Space Stones are the latest contents of our Busy Box.
The Solar System Sensory bin inspired a lot of interest in the planets, their names and order. However, it was tough for the girls to identify the different planets themselves, remember their names and order them independently. These Space Stones are great because you can make them easily identifiable. I drew each planet in a unique color with its distinguishing characteristics, and labeled the back with the name and planet order. This quickly turns a simple science activity for preschoolers, into an early literacy and number recognition lesson too – all happening while the kids just think they are playing! And you can make your own set too with just a few simple supplies.
Making Space Stones
What’s more indestructible than stones? Small, dark, round and flat stones make for the perfect medium for teaching planets for preschool because they are small enough to manipulate in little hands, and durable to withstand lots of play from not so gentle little hands. If you don’t have a natural supply of these, the good news is you can order them online or pick some up in the floral section of your local craft store.
Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes (plus 48 hours dry time)
Clean-Up Time: Less than 5 minutes
Using oil-based paint pens, draw an image of a planet on each stone. I referenced this image of the solar system to give each planet distinguishing characteristics to make them easily identifiable for preschoolers: Earth with green land and blue water, Mars – the red planet, Saturn with its rings, Jupiter with its stripes and spot, etc.
Oil-based paint pens take some time to dry – learn from my mistakes. Let your drawings dry for several hours before touching it to test if it’s dry or turning it over to add the numbers and labels. You can also spray them with acrylic sealer to create a more durable finish.
Once you let the drawing and sealer dry for 24 hours, flip the stones over and label each one with the name of the planet and its numerical order in the solar system. Seal and let dry for another 24 hours.
See my smudges? I didn’t let them dry long enough before trying to test them for dryness. In my trial and error, I did discover that you can remove the oil-based paint pens with nail polish remover!
Planets for Preschool Busy Box
I keep a Busy Box in the playroom that is easily accessible for the girls. I change the contents up once a month or so, and it typically features a learning-filled, independent play activity.
For the Space Stones Busy Box, I added the planets, a black garbage bag, and some gold confetti stars to create a festive backdrop for the Solar System.
My 4 year old, Big M, who loves putting everything in its place and proper order, immediately set up to put the planets in their proper order. She loved being able to flip the stones over to check to make sure she was right. And I loved that she is now able to use her early literacy skills, including beginning letter sounds and picture clues, to identify each planet with the help of their labels as well.
My 3 year old, with some instruction from her older sister, also quickly was able to begin naming the planets. Her favorite… Saturn!
Additional Reading about the Planets for Preschool
These fun planet props will pair great with lots of great books about space and stars. Check out our original book list for studying the stars, or these four favorites, specifically about the Solar System.
Is your preschooler fascinated by space and the stars? Check out our complete Studying the Stars series for more fun, hands-on learning activities. You can find all of them and more great science ideas for preschool on our STEM for Kids – Science board on Pinterest.
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