Solar System Unit Study for Homeschool

solar system unit study for homeschool

This fun Solar System Unit Study is perfect for elementary school kids of all ages!

If you’re teaching about the solar system for homeschool science anytime soon, this unit study has been designed with you in mind!

It’s perfect for homeschool students in grades 1-5 and can easily be adapted for Kindergarten and middle school if needed. 

What topics does the Solar System Unit Study cover?

This Solar System homeschool unit study covers the following topics:

  • How the solar system works
  • The sun
  • The moon and its phases
  • Each of the 8 planets and their relative sizes and distances from the sun
  • Other objects in the solar system, such as dwarf planets, comets, oort clouds, and asteroids

Free Homeschool Unit Study Planner printable pack

If you haven’t already grabbed the Reluctant Homeschool Mama’s free Homeschool Unit Study Planner printable pack, you’ll definitely want to do that now!

You’ll get 8 different pages to help you plan your homeschool unit study so it’s well organized and perfect for your homeschool. 

Click on the image below so you can easily customize this Solar System unit study to your homeschool.

free unit study planner

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How to schedule the Solar System Homeschool Unit Study

This unit study is designed to take up to eight 1-hour science sessions. 

In our homeschool, we do science two days a week for an hour each time (on Tuesdays and Thursdays), so this unit study took us four weeks to complete. 

If you do science every day, you can definitely adjust as needed. You may want to consider spending eight to ten days, each about 60-minutes in length. 

Here’s an in-depth look at the Reluctant Homeschool Mama’s Solar System Unit Study!

Understanding the Solar System

Understanding the Solar System is definitely foundational for this unit study, so it’s a great idea to make sure your students get familiar with it before you proceed! 

You can plan to spend at least two long science lessons on this topic, but there is enough material here, you can definitely stretch it to fill three or four sessions!

Books about the Solar System

Whether you get them from your local library or purchase them online, you’ll definitely need some great reading material about the solar system.

Some of our favorite basic books about the solar system are: 

The Planet Name Game from Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat – this early reader book is perfect for younger elementary ages

There’s No Place Like Space! By Tish Rabe – from the Dr. Seuss Learning Library, this book’s delightful rhymes help kids gain a basic understanding and vocabulary of the solar system.

The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System by Joanna Cole – this book is one of the quintessential books for kids full of facts about the solar system!

Star Wars: Earth’s Solar System – this book can be hard to find, but check your local library. If you have a major Star Wars fan, it is worth it!

You’ll also want to find a nonfiction series of short books about each of the planets – your local library is likely to have a good set! Look for Dewey Decimal call numbers 523.41 through 523.482.

Names of the planets

To help your kids memorize the names of the planets, check out this adorable StoryBots song and video on YouTube!

Not only does it have a catchy tune, but there is also a ton of great information about each of the planets as well. 

solar system acrostic sentence

Once your kids are somewhat familiar with the names of the planets, you can use the acrostic sentence My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos to help them remember the order of the planets. 

  • My = Mercury
  • Very = Venus
  • Excellent = Earth
  • Mother = Mars
  • Just = Jupiter
  • Served = Saturn
  • Us = Uranus
  • Nachos = Neptune

Also, be sure to print out the Solar System Unit Study worksheets from The Reluctant Homeschool Mama’s Free Resource Library! Inside you’ll find a page for your kids to write down the names of the planets in order and come up with their own acrostic sentence too!

solar system unit study printable

Planets revolution and rotation demonstration

Here’s a great demonstration to help your kids understand how the planets move in relation to the sun and to each other!

Have one child stand in the center of the room. Give them a flashlight to hold and turn it on. They now represent the sun. 

Then have another child stand toward the outer edge of the room. This child will slowly walk, or revolve, around the sun. This represents a planet orbiting the sun. 

Next, have the child representing the planet start to spin in a circle as they continue to revolve around the sun. This represents the rotation of the planets.

If you have more kids, you can add another child to represent a moon orbiting the planet. This is where things can get complicated! This child revolves around the planet, which is also rotating and revolving around the moon. 

Related article: Dinosaur Unit Study – 15 Fun Activities for Your Homeschool Students

The more kids you have, the more kids you can add as planets. They need to make sure they stay in their proper orbits as they all revolve around the sun! 

Finally, you can always have a child represent a comet, traveling in and amongst the planets at varying speeds and directions too! 

Once your kids have a good basic understanding of the solar system, it’s time to dive in more deeply. Keep reading to check out our ideas for studying the sun, the moon, and the planets in more detail! 

The Sun and the Moon

You can easily divide teaching about the sun and the moon into two separate days, or you could combine them into one long science lesson.

The sun

Start teaching your kids about the sun with this adorable StoryBots song called “I’m So Hot.”

There are several great nonfiction books about the sun that are great for elementary ages, but we especially like The Sun is Kind of a Big Deal by Nick Seluk, creator of the Awkward Yeti series.

The moon

If you’re enjoying the StoryBots songs and videos, don’t miss their edition about the moon called “It’s My Time to Shine.”

Honestly, these catchy songs are packed so full of information that you could take them phrase by phrase and teach an entire science lesson straight from that!

This fun blow-up, beach-ball-like moon is a cool visual aid for your moon lesson too!

A really fun moon project to teach your kids about the phases of the moon is this common (and yummy!) demonstration using Oreos!

Carefully split four Oreos open to reveal the cream. Then carve the cream to represent the different moon phases: full moon (all the cream on one side), new moon (no cream), 1st quarter (half of the cream on the right-hand side of the cookie), 3rd quarter (half of the cream on the left-hand side), waxing gibbous and waning gibbous, and waxing and waning crescent.

solar system moon phases

The Solar System Unit Study worksheet pack from the Reluctant Homeschool Mama Free Resource Library already has a printable page for you to use for this demonstration!

The planets

If you have a good set of planet books, you can probably cover at least two planets per day!

  1. Mercury and Venus
  2. Earth and Mars
  3. Jupiter and Saturn
  4. Uranus and Neptune

Inside our Solar System Unit Study Printable Pack, there is a separate “Planet Profile” page for your kids to complete as you learn about each planet.

solar system planet profile

Your kids will record specific facts about each planet, such as the number of moons it has, or how long it takes to orbit the sun. There is also space for your kids to draw the planet and to write 3 interesting facts.

While you’re teaching about the planets, you may consider doing these cool demonstrations.

Planets’ relative distance from the sun

We used the Great Explorations 3D Solar System Hanging Kit to hang the planets in our schoolroom and demonstrate their relative distance from the sun.

Instead of hanging them equidistant from each other (as we often see in illustrations of the solar system), we decided to hang them to represent each planet’s relative distance from the sun.

We designated one wall as the sun. For our 15-foot schoolroom, we placed the planets at these distances from the “sun wall”:

  • Mercury – 2 inches from the wall
  • Venus – 4 inches from the wall
  • Earth – 6 inches from the wall
  • Mars – 9 inches from the wall
  • Jupiter – 2 feet, 6 inches from the wall
  • Saturn – 5 feet from the wall
  • Uranus – 10 feet, 6 inches from the wall
  • Neptune – 15 feet from the wall

Of course, these distances are approximate, but we used a ton of math to get them very near their proper orbits around the sun.

Your kids may be surprised to see how relatively “close” the inner rocky planets are to each other and how far away Neptune seems in comparison!

Relative sizes of planets to each other

Another cool comparison to make with the planets is to compare their relative sizes.

You could use a combination of different balls, such as basketballs down to marbles.

Or a collection of small and large nuts and other kitchen items, such as peppercorns could work well.

But our favorite is this planet-size demonstration that uses fruit!

Night school session for telescope viewing of planets

Another super-memorable solar system activity would be to have a stargazing or “planet-gazing” night.

The free app StarChart is an easy way to learn about the planets and stars that are in the night sky where you live.

We’ve owned the Celestron 70mm PowerSeeker Refractor Telescope since 2015 and we love it! It’s a fairly easy telescope to set up, and it’s easy enough for kids to look through.

We took this telescope on a camping trip in early fall, and we were able to see Jupiter and even three of Jupiter’s moons!

Other objects in the solar system

While focusing your unit study on sun, moon, and the eight planets may seem like a lot to cover, you may also want to include touching on any of these other topics as well!

  • Asteroid belt
  • Dwarf planets
  • Comets
  • Meteors
  • Kuiper belt
  • Oort Cloud

Pluto Visits Earth by Steve Metzger is an engaging book that discusses how Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet.

The Solar System Printable Pack also contains a simple matching worksheet that covers all of these topics too! Get it from the Free Resource Library right here!

solar system other topics

Possible Field Trips for a Solar System Unit Study

Going on a field trip is a great way to make your unit study more memorable!

Take a moment to see if any of these could possibly be an option for you:

Virtual Field Trip Ideas

If you need to stay closer to home, here are some awesome virtual field trip ideas to round out your homeschool solar system unit study:

Review Day

The last day of any unit study is a perfect time to go back and review what your kids have learned!

Take a look back through the Solar System Unit Study printable worksheets and have your kids finish any worksheets they haven’t completed yet.

Be sure to have them complete the last page of the printable pack too! It’s a chance for your kids to give their own unit study evaluation. Kids love the chance to give some feedback about what they’ve been learning!

Final thoughts about this solar system homeschool unit study

We hope you’re excited about teaching your own solar system unit study in your homeschool now!

Let us know if you have any questions or comments about this Solar System Unit Study in the comments below!

Related articles about homeschool unit studies:

Oceans Unit Study – 9 Awesome Ideas to Make it Fun

Geology Homeschool Unit Study – 5 Weeks of Science Fun

Olympics Homeschool Unit Study – 11 Ideas Your Kids Will Love 

Earth Science Homeschool Unit Study – 6 Weeks of Science Fun

5 Easy Steps to Creating a Homeschool Unit Study

Homeschool Unit Studies – What Are They? And Why Do People Love Them? 

Pin the image below to return to this article easily in the future!

solar system unit study pin

Have you considered putting together a Solar System homeschool unit study?

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Hi there! I’m so glad you’re here! I’m Jen, a former reluctant homeschool mom who is ready to help you actually enjoy homeschooling too. Read more here…

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