DIY Solar System Poster for summer fun or a school project

In my house, we’ve entered that time zone in which school’s over but camp has not yet started. What’s a mom to do? To help fill the gap, I’ve scheduled two weeks of crafting fun for kids. To kick it off, today I’m sharing how to make a Solar System Poster. A while back, I posted a tutorial to make a Solar System Model, and as part of that post, I pictured a Solar System Poster. I had a lot of requests for instructions to make the Solar System Poster, which Kathleen George kindly pulled together for us. So, here’s how to make your very own Solar System Poster. Have fun!

How to make a Solar System Poster using balls of STYROFOAM. This is the best tutorial. Save this one for school! At some point, every student has to make a model of the Solar System.

DIY Solar System Poster by Kathleen George.

To make a Solar System Poster, you’ll need:

  • STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam: One each 5”, 4”, 3”, 2-1/2”, and 2” balls; two 1-1/2” balls; 5” x 5” x ½” sheet
  • Acrylic craft paints: Yellow, orange, dark-blue, blue-green, cobalt-blue, light-blue, red
  • Foam board, black, 20” x 30”
  • String, 28”
  • Push pin or thumb tack
  • Metallic pen
  • Transparent tape or masking tape
  • Thick, white craft glue
  • Tools needed: Serrated knife or plastic knife*; old candle or bar of soap; teaspoon; stiff paint brush; chopsticks; ruler; several jars; pencil

*Note: Only an adult should handle the serrated knife; an adult should closely supervise children who are using a plastic knife.

How to make a Solar System Poster using balls of STYROFOAM. This is the best tutorial. Save this one for school! At some point, every student has to make a model of the Solar System.

For summer fun or a classroom project, make a Solar System Poster.

To make a Solar System Poster:

1. If using a serrated knife, wax the knife blade with a candle or bar of soap. Use the serrated knife or a plastic knife to cut in half all balls except for one, 1-1/2” ball.  Brush away excess crumbs by lightly rubbing together the two cuts sides over a trash can.

2. Firmly roll the remaining 1-1/2” ball on a tabletop, compressing it to 1-1/4”. Cut the ball in half.

3. Place half a 3” ball on the ½” foam sheet. Trace around it with a sharp pencil. Draw a second, larger circle 1” away from the 3” circle. Use tip of serrated knife to cut out the ring. Smooth edges with the bowl of a teaspoon.

4. Paint half balls according to Chart 1. Insert a chopstick into the cut side of the half balls to use as a handle. Place the chopstick in a jar while paint dries.

5. Prepare the display board. Measure 10” down from the top of the board, and 3” in from the right-hand side and make a mark. This is the center of the sun.

6. Next, mark the distance of each planet from the sun. Make a dot for each planet along the center line of the board using the measurements in Chart 2.

7. You will use a string compass to draw the orbit for each planet. Cut a piece of string about 28” long. Wrap a piece of tape around each end so the string doesn’t fray.

Start by drawing the orbit for Mercury:

  • Insert a pushpin into the tape at one end of the string and push the pin firmly into the center of the sun as marked on the poster.
  • Gently pull the string out towards the left and place your pencil point on the dot for Mercury (3-1/2” from the push pin).
  • Wrap the extra string around the pencil till it’s taut.
  • Keep the string straight and taut as you gently move the pencil toward the top of the poster and then back down toward the bottom, drawing a curved line for the orbit.

8. Repeat, drawing the orbit for each planet.

9. Draw a dotted line along each curved line using the metallic pen.

10. Attach each planet using thick, white craft glue. Let the glue dry.

11. Label each planet.

Be sure to keep this one handy. If you don’t make a Solar System Poster this summer, I’m sure there will come a day when your child says “Mom, I have to make a Solar System for school . . .”

I can’t wait to share a few more of the kids’ crafts I’ve lined up for the next two weeks. It’s going to be a lot of fun! Be sure to come back each day to see what’s new. Thank you, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Happy crafting.

P.S. Do you follow Crafts ‘n Coffee on Facebook and Pinterest? I hope you’ll join me there, and invite your friends to follow, too! Thank you.


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23 Responses to DIY Solar System Poster for summer fun or a school project

  1. MonyVisal says:

    This is helpful but my teacher want it to scaled so? it hard and here in Cambodia we doesn’t have foam ball.

  2. Neeraj says:

    Thanks for giving instructions that are so detailed and easy to follow. We were able to make our project with a lot of ease. After supplies were collected, it took us less than 3 hours to assemble (excluding the time required to make thermocol balls for planets and sun).

  3. Pingback: Das Sonnensystem - HomeschoolerinAustria

  4. Dylan says:

    So help full I got a 100 on my Solar System Project! Thank you very much.

  5. Thanks .the solar system project helped me for my school exhibition.

  6. tlkstockdale says:

    Do you know how it was determined to color Saturn yellow and the ring orange? I have been trying to figure out are these the right colors for Saturn for my daughter’s Solar System project.

    • Sharon says:

      Hmm, I don’t have a ready answer for you, and I don’t know the source Kathleen used to select the paint colors. If you want to be sure your model is accurate, I would do a little online research to see what the “experts” use. Good luck! Sharon

  7. APARNA says:

    Is there any alternative to mark the orbit?

  8. samantha says:

    I added glitter to the sun to make it have a HOT effect:) My daughter also painted the planets with some variation of colors to what the planets actually look like from space ie, earth green and blue, etc. It makes for a great variation to this awesome idea!

  9. stacie says:

    Thanks, we were given only 4 days notice for this school project. And we were able to do it quickly. Only trouble we ran into was the measurement for pluto our teachers included it on the list. I just added it to the end.

    • Sharon says:

      So glad we could help! I hope you get an “A”. How funny that the teacher added in Pluto — is it a planet again?? Sharon

    • Sara Dewberry says:

      Hi Stacie! My son’s teacher is also requesting that Pluto be included. Do you mind sharing how far you placed it from the sun? Thank you!

      • Sharon says:

        Hi Sara, Unfortunately, Kathleen didn’t include Pluto and I don’t have that info for you. Good luck with the project! Sharon

  10. Mandy McMillan says:

    Can you tell me approximately how long it took for this project from start to finish, after you’ve gathered all of your supplies?

  11. Katiria says:

    Love it! Oh if only there was room on my son’s wall to hang one of these. (He hangs up all his drawings on his walls) He has a Styrofoam solar system hanging from the ceiling right now.

    • Sharon says:

      I remember seeing a photo of your son making his Solar System model! I know he’d love this one, too — maybe he can rotate his art and squeeze in the poster. Thanks for stopping in, Katiria. Sharon

  12. LisaM says:

    WOW! I will have to save this one. I know in middle school the kids have to make one. With 2 in highschool, a third grader and one out of school. This will be a great keeper. Thanks

    • Sharon says:

      So glad I could help, Lisa. I know that just about every school-age child has to make a Solar System at some point and now you can plan ahead (instead of that last-minute “Mom, I have a project due tomorrow . . . “). Sharon

  13. roylcoblog says:

    What a very effective idea. It turned out so wonderfully in the photo!

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