Science Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers — Planet Ordering

When I decided back in February that I was going to do homeschool preschool for L instead of sending her to a Montessori school, she was a little disappointed at first — mostly [I think] because she wanted to wear a backpack.  When I told her that we would do all of the things she would do at school at home, she insisted that we begin right away.  So we did!  I didn’t have much time to plan, so I grabbed a set of flashcards I had in my work closet to begin with — the Solar System.  I didn’t really end up using the cards for anything other than the facts on the backs, but they gave me a good starting point.  I remembered a song I had sung at Circle Time back when I was a teacher that was always a hit with my students, so I decided to start with that.

The pictures on the solar system flashcards were beautiful, but not to scale.  All of the planets looked like they were the same size.  I searched for free printable Montessori planet cards, but I just couldn’t find any I loved.  So I improvised by googling “high res photo of the planets to scale.”  I don’t own the rights to these photos, so I can’t provide them as a free printable with my name on them.  However, I found the pictures I used at the very bottom of this site [which credits the Lunar and Planetary Institute].  I enlarged the picture to 150%, then printed the whole picture and cut out the individual planets from it.  I also printed the original photo of the solar system all together and left it intact as a control.  It’s not perfect — I didn’t have a large enough printer or laminator to make the whole sun to scale — but it will work!  The first four planets are tiny, so I kept them in a closed container within the planet basket to make sure we didn’t lose them.

Each day at Circle Time, we sang our planet song and talked about one planet at a time.  Then we got out a work rug and put the planets in order.  After only a few days, L was able to name each planet by sight and put them in order all by herself — singing really helps with ordering!

Here’s the song we used: [This was originally written when Pluto was still considered a planet, so I had to change some of the words to make it rhyme even without “nine” and “Pluto.”]

(To the tune of “The Ants Go Marching”)

The planets revolve around the sun.  Hurray, hurray.
The planets revolve around the sun.  Hurray, hurray.
The planets revolve around the sun, and spin on their axis, every one.
And they all go spinning, around and around they go.

 

Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.  Hurray, hurray.
Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.  Hurray, hurray.
Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, are whirling and twirling around the sun.
And they all go spinning, around and around they go.

 

Jupiter, Saturn, are next, can’t wait.  Hurray, hurray.
Jupiter, Saturn, are next, can’t wait.  Hurray, hurray.
Jupiter, Saturn, are next, can’t wait.
Uranus, Neptune, that makes eight.
And they all go spinning, around and around they go.

 

It’s insanely catchy.  Good luck sleeping at night without singing that in your head a thousand times first!

 

 

 

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