If you teach about the formation of the solar system, you probably know that finding age appropriate activities can be a huge challenge! Teaching the solar system’s formation (or nebular theory) can seem really intimidating to sixth graders!
Over the years, I’ve found some fun and engaging activities to help students learn about (and understand) the steps in the formation of the solar system.
1. Hook and Engage!
A card sort is a great activity to engage students in the formation of the solar system and assess prior knowledge. I like to use simple pictures for my students to observe and sort before they learn anything about the solar system’s formation.
After they have their cards ordered, I have students write down their predicted order of the solar system’s formation so they can refer to it and make changes as the lesson continues.
2. Formation of of the Solar System Presentation and Notes
I love to use visuals as I teach, so I like to use a quick presentation to talk about the important steps and big ideas in the formation of the solar system. This is a good opportunity to discuss what actually happens as students record the information with notes.
These notes are a helpful tool to refer to throughout the rest of the activities.
3. Solar System Flattening Demo
Students have a hard time grasping the concept that an object spinning really fast can flatten. Spinning a water balloon on an electric drill really captures their attention and helps kids to understand this difficult concept!
I created a detailed tutorial explaining the set up in my Instagram story highlights under “Lab Fun“.
4. Solar System Formation Activity (Cut and Paste)
Card sorts can be fun and engaging activities to identify and explain the steps of solar system formation. This can be easily differentiated for different abilities by having students only sort the pictures, or limit the choices to pictures and titles.
Sorts can take many forms including paper and digital.
After students complete their solar system sort, they write a paragraph to explain how the solar system formed in their own words.
5. Solar System Video
Here is an easy to understand formation of the solar system video that I use with my sixth grade students. It’s from NASA Space Place.
5. Formation of the Solar System Mazes
My students are hooked on these interactive mazes! I love them for extra practice because they are NO prep and quick to assess (just follow the pattern to check the maze!).
Two formation of the solar system mazes are included in this activity (print and digital).
- extra practice
- exit tickets
- quick assessments
- review and remediation
Save hours of planning time with these no-prep formation of the solar system activities!
Print and go with this complete Formation of the Solar System Resource!
- Presentation and notes
- Card Sort Engagement / Pre Assessment Activity
- PowerPoint describing the 10 stages of Solar System Formation
- Formation of the Solar System Activity (can be used as worksheets, comic strip, booklet foldable), answer keys
- Interactive Google Slide Activity that is differentiated and perfect for distance learning
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐This was a great resource to teach a difficult topic. The materials were easy to use and the directions were clear and concise. I was very happy with this product! -David
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐My students enjoyed it. Great idea for visual learners. Students used the pictures and the captions to write their paragraph about the formation of the solar system. Thank you! -Florina
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐I used this with my 8th grade class. It was helpful that there was a digital version for students who were placed on quarantine. I loved the simplicity of the formation of the solar system, and it has options on how to make a graphic organizer out of it! -Erica
Print & Digital Options!