Space is one of the coolest science topics — one that kids are usually pretty excited to learn about.
It’s endlessly fascinating and can be introduced at a really young age to encourage an interest in science and technology. Whether your children are already obsessed with astronomy and space, or just getting started, these worksheets and activities are sure to inspire and engage.
Why should kids learn about space?
Learning about space and astronomy opens children’s eyes to the world around them. It’s one of those subjects that constantly evolves with new technological discoveries — teaching kids that there really is no limit to what science can do.
It’s an excellent introduction to STEAM subjects — science, technology, engineering, arts, and math — which are playing an ever-growing role in education and future job potential.
What do young kids need to know about space?
Much like the universe itself, space and astronomy topics you can touch on are never-ending. That said, here are some of our favorites:
The universe is infinite and constantly expanding, so it can be a pretty abstract concept for young kids to wrap their heads around.
Our in-depth worksheet bundle lays it out simply, covering the theories of origin, history of discoveries, and all the components that make up our universe. These worksheets are a good starting point before exploring other elements of space…
Early space study
It’s easy to assume that space exploration started when NASA was founded in the 1950s, but civilizations have been studying space for thousands of years.
Astronomy became a science discipline in 600 BC, and it’s pretty amazing how much ancient scientists could determine about space. We’ve got plenty of historical space facts in our astronomy worksheets if you’re interested.
By the 1600s, Copernicus theorized that the Sun is at the center of our universe, orbited by the planets. Newton’s discovery of gravity brought a new age of enlightenment and physics to astronomy, a field that began to flourish in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries as telescopes and observatories were built.
Not to be confused with astrology, astronomy is the study of the sun, moon, stars, planets, comets, gas, galaxies, gas, dust, and other non-Earthly bodies and phenomena. It actually dates back over 10,000 years ago, when ancient civilizations believed that gods were celestial beings who lived in the sky and controlled the Earth.
The discipline evolved over time, and is now incredibly in-depth and scientific, with hundreds of applications. Our fact file and worksheets explore the ancient and modern history of astronomy.
Asteroids, meteors, and comets
What’s the difference between an asteroid and a meteor? And is a comet something else entirely? These three names are often (mistakenly) used interchangeably in movies and TV shows but are, in fact, all different things.
- An asteroid is a rock that orbits the sun like a tiny planet.
- A comet also orbits the Sun but is made of ice and dust.
- A meteoroid is a piece of asteroid that breaks off and flies through space — once it enters Earth’s atmosphere, it’s burned up and turned into a vapor which is called a meteor. Check out our three separate worksheet bundles on these phenomena.
Spaceships and satellites
You can’t get to space without a spaceship! The first spacecraft was launched in 1957, and only weighed 184 pounds! We’ve come a long way since then, developing incredibly powerful crafts that have traveled as far as Saturn.
One of mankind’s most impressive feats so far has been sending humans into space, and NASA is currently working hard to create a shuttle that will transport astronauts to Mars. We’ve got a great worksheet bundle all about space shuttles, with history, facts, and everything you need to teach your kids about space exploration.
International Space Station
Your kids will be impressed — and maybe jealous — to hear about the people who get to live in space. The ISS research facility was built in space (!) and is orbiting the Earth as we speak! The astronauts on board are doing a range of experiments with different materials, to see how they react without gravity.
Astronauts are real-life superheroes. Learning about all the astronauts who have traveled to space over the last 50 years will be an inspiring practice for any children who’ve shown an early interest in astronomy.
We all know about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but our fact and worksheet bundle introduces students to some lesser-known astronauts who had major roles in space exploration. Though of course, we’ve got worksheets on Neil and Buzz too. And don’t forget the incredible Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman — and youngest person — to travel to space.
Fun hands-on space activities for young kids
Once you’ve introduced your kids to the basics, you can start having some hands-on fun! These awesome experiments will help kids love space even more:
- Use Oreos to display phases of the moon, by twisting them open and cutting out some of the white cream to resemble a half-moon, crescent moon, etc. Get your kids to put them in order, and introduce them to how the moon waxes and wanes.
- Cut out eight cardboard planets of a size relative to the ones in our solar system and get your kids to wrap them in yarn (see pictured). It’s a good way to develop fine motor skills, and also teaches them the different sizes and order of the planets.
Image from And Next Comes L
- Make a galaxy jar out of paint, water, and glitter and watch them be transfixed for hours. (This is also a great tool for helping kids with powerful feelings calm down!)
- Learn about how the Earth rotates by placing an object outside in the Sun. Get your kids to trace its shadow in chalk every hour, and watch how the shadow moves as the Earth spins on its axis. If you don’t have a pavement, you could do it with a pencil stuck into a paper plate. It’s also a great exercise to demonstrate how the Earth’s axis changes with the seasons. Place your sundial in the same spot at the same time once a month, and see how the shadow changes!
- Many DIY rocket ships are a little too advanced for kindergartners, but you can make a simple one just using antacid tablets. Let your kids design and decorate the rocket, then let it fly! For an easy rocket ship, decorate a cardboard tube (this can even be a toilet paper roll) with paint, fins, and a cone. Then pop it on a bicycle pump. Let the kids thrust the pump and watch it go!
- Creating your own model of the solar system will really help kids visualize what’s going on up there. You can use painted styrofoam balls and wire to assemble it, or keep it simple and use marbles or painted ping pong balls.
Feeling a little stuck with how to teach the solar system? Check out our solar system curriculum pack that details some ideas of where to get started, and what topics you can cover using our library of worksheet topics!
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