Build A Solar System Model

Building a solar system model is a fun, hands-on way to learn about the planets and their characteristics.

Materials Needed:

  • Styrofoam balls of various sizes (for the Sun and planets)
  • Paints and paintbrushes
  • Wooden skewers
  • A foam board for the base
  • Markers or labels (for naming the planets)

Steps To Building A Solar System Model:

  • Prepare the Sun and Planets:
    • Choose a large Styrofoam ball for the Sun and smaller balls for the eight planets. 
  • Paint the Sun and Planets:
    • Paint the large ball bright yellow to represent the Sun, the smallest balls to represent the first 4 planets, and medium balls for the last 4. 
    • Colors: Mercury – Gray, Venus – Pale Yellow, Earth – Blue/Green, Mars – Red, Jupiter – Brown/White, Saturn – Pale Yellow, Uranus – Light Blue, Neptune – Dark Blue
  • Allow the paint to dry completely.
  • Attach the Planets:
    • Insert a wooden skewer into each planet and the Sun. 
  • Create the Base:
    • To represent the planets’ orbits, insert the other end of each skewer into the foam base at varying distances from the sun.
  • Label the Planets:
    • Use markers to write the names of each planet on the corresponding balls.

Learnings From The Model

Building a solar system model helps us understand the layout of our solar system and the relative sizes and distances of the planets.

Sun’s Importance: The Sun’s strong gravitational pull keeps the planets in their paths, preventing them from drifting away into space.

Planet Size: Mercury is the smallest, and Jupiter is the largest. Venus and Earth are similar in size, as are Uranus and Neptune. Mars is half the size of Earth, and Saturn is slightly smaller than Jupiter. 

Orbital Time: The farther a planet is from the Sun, the longer it takes to complete one orbit. Mercury is the closest and takes 88 Earth days, Earth takes 365 days, while Neptune takes 165 Earth years!

Fun Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the Solar System:

  • Venus rotates opposite to most planets, so the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east.
  • Jupiter has at least 79 moons, four of which (the Galilean moons) are larger than the dwarf planet Pluto.
  • Saturn is the only planet in the solar system less dense than water. If there were a bathtub big enough, Saturn would float!
  • The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter contains millions of asteroids.


Let’s quickly recap what we learned about the Solar System:

  • What force keeps the planets in their paths without drifting into space? Sun’s Gravitational Pull
  • Which two sets of planets are similar in size? Venus/Earth & Uranus/Neptune
  • How long does it take for Neptune to complete one orbit around the sun? 165 Earth Years
  • Which planet is less dense than water and can float in it? Saturn
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