The Earth orbits (or revolves around) the Sun.
The Earth rotates (or spins) around its axis.
The Moon obits (or revolves around) the Earth.
The Moon rotates (or spins) around its axis.
The Sun also rotates around its axis (but it gets a lot more complicated than the Earth and Moon).
These are tough concepts to wrap your mind around!
I mean, you can’t see that we’re moving right now, we only ever see the same side of the Moon, and it sure looks like the Sun moves around us.
To scale this down (and have a little fun), we made a paper plate Earth, Moon, and Sun to help see these concepts in action.
Even if Peas and Pie didn’t really understand the lesson, they had a blast making the models and moving them around.
We started with these materials:
3 paper plates (or 3 for each child)
Construction paper in blue, green, grey, black, orange, and yellow
Glue – we experimented with white glue and glue sticks. Both were a lot of fun and plenty sticky.
We began with Earth.
We used the blue and green paper and added white cotton balls as clouds. You could definitely use scissors if you are working on cutting skills, but we went with good old tearing.
Peas loved the sound of ripping the paper.
And Pie was excited to use the glue all by herself. She tested out a few methods of gluing. Some of the glue went straight on the paper and some went straight on the plate.
Peas and Pie were also fascinated by the cotton balls. They noticed that you can pull them apart quite a bit before they rip.
We added them as finishing touches on our Earth.
As we ripped and glued, we talked about how the Earth looks from space. It’s blue and green with puffs of white. Just like their plates:
I asked them what they thought made it look green and what made it look blue. Pie surprised me when she answered the ocean is blue.
YES!!! I said.
We talked about how the land covered in trees looks green and the puffy clouds are white.
Peas is 2, so he wasn’t too into the conversation, but he LOVED hearing the color names being talked about. He practiced picking them out as we talked about them.
Next we made the Moon.
To make the Moon, we began with grey paper and added black for the craters and seas.
We talked about how the seas aren’t made of water like our oceans but are leftover from ancient volcanoes. We also talked about how the craters are formed asteroid and meteors, or as we talked about them “big rocks” that hit the Moon billions of years ago (or long before the earliest known dinosaurs).
Last but not least came the Sun!
We tore the yellow and orange paper into strips and glued them around the edges to give our Sun rays.
We talked about how the Sun is the star nearest to the Earth. The other planets also orbit the Sun, just like Earth. Pie wisely added that the sun gives us light during the day.
When our Earth, Moon, and Sun were dry, we cleared out a space in the living room to do some acting.
I began by being the Sun and handed them each their Earth.
I showed them how the Earth rotates and moves around the sun. We practiced counting days as we spun in circles and counting years as they moved around the Sun.
We ended this activity by practicing being the Moon and orbiting the Earth. I explained that the Moon also spins at about the same rate it revolves around the Earth, so we only ever see the same side.
Honestly, they might not have cared about all of that yet, but they did have a great time playing the game. Seeing them moving the plates around amd getting engaged in learning was enough for me – plus we have some beautiful art to add to their art wall.