“Another mobile?” you may ask.
Solar System Mobile
Well, months ago, while browsing a large crafts store in a big city, I purchased some polystyrene balls especially packaged for a solar system mobile, and packed them away until we started our Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie K. Fulbright. Then, we launched (yes, pun intended!) into our theme by creating the solar system mobile.
My daughter figured out how to support each ball to paint and let them dry without smudging them. She used a small piece of wire stuck inside candle stick holders and pierced the wire into each ball. We used acrylic paints and sponges. Middle sister joined in because it looked such fun! We referred to printouts of the planets to correctly select the appropriate-sized balls and paint them the right colors.
We needed a large, large sun that would not be too heavy. We compromised on the sun’s size and covered our inflatable earth globe with paper mache. (A beach ball would also do, but the world globe has a stand which allowed us to turn and cover the ball with paper and glue.) I used a small amount of wallpaper glue mixed with water in the correct ratio … (I sneaked in a little maths lesson!) Wallpaper glue lasts for several days in a sealed container, and spills and drips wash off easily.
The next day we recovered our sun’s newspaper layers with white paper strips and let it dry. Then, when dried, we deflated the globe enough to insert the scissors and snip a large slit and pull the flattened globe out our ball. A few layers of new paper mache to close our slit, and another day to allow to dry completely. Somehow, the newly glued section softened previous layers and our beautiful ball became a bit wonky. But my daughter was completely unfazed because, “the sun is a burning ball of gas and it’s not perfectly round, is it, mom?” Absolutely!
I bent a large piece of used fence wire and we used fish gut to suspend all the globes. There were a few problem-solving moments because our wire ring did not hang level. We decided to add some blue, yellow and white glass beads to balance the mobile. What an ingenious idea, because these beads looked like stars! We could have hung planet moons too, I suppose, which would also be a great idea …
A great hands-on activity! It was really educational too, because by the end of this activity, my daughter knew all the planets’ names, their relative sizes and colors, and could easily identify them in our studies. Wonderful introduction to Astronomy!
Here are some of the Solar System websites I pinned or filed in OneNote ~
Have fun making your solar system model!