My kids are absolutely infatuated with the solar system and all things celestial. I remember taking astronomy in college and loving it (and even considered making it my major). It’s been a fun journey to re-learn and discover all the marvels of our solar system, space, and the cosmos.
The nature solar system project came to be in a moment of motherhood desperation.
I’m not sure about your family, but with the pandemic, if one of my kids is having a hard day, I’m sometimes at a loss with how to shift the energy in the house. Especially when all of my safe at home ideas and creativity are met with a hard “NO.”
This was one of those days.
Sometimes Being Uninspired Leads to Inspiration
No one wanted to play outside, everyone was cranky, and I was dreading the downward afternoon spiral. So I spontaneously said, “I know, let’s go for a nature walk and find things that we can use to make nature solar systems.” I didn’t really have a plan, but the kids were into it and off we went.
We found flowers, leaves, pinecones, pine needles, twigs, and rocks. And, we had a really nice little neighborhood walk. When we got home, I put the youngest down for nap, and then we got to work.
My oldest came alive with excitement and ideas. “Let’s paint the sky black,” and “ooh, let’s glue stuff here.” We had so much fun talking about how the flowers were stars and small planets and the pine cones were the sun and comets, and so on.
The combination of cardboard, black paint, and found items from nature turned out absolutely beautifully! And maybe it doesn’t look very much like a solar system to a casual observer. But, ask my kid which pinecone is the sun and you’ll get a full explanation.
Even if your kid isn’t into space, I could easily see turning this project into nature fairies, racecars, ice cream cones, or something else that matches their interests.
We’ve read a lot of children’s books about space. Nonfiction, fiction, we love them all. But, a particular favorite in our household is Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed and illustrated by Stasia Burrington.
This story is inspired by Dr. Mae Jamison. She is the first African American woman to ever travel in space. It’s an inspiring and encouraging story. And a great launch point for discussing goals, perseverance, racism, and social justice issues.
There’s a neat video of Dr. Jemison talking about her experiences I also recommend checking out. She is a truly remarkable woman.
Now, on to the nature solar system!
- A piece of cardboard
- Black tempera paint (or another color of your choosing)
- Items found in nature such as flowers, twigs, leaves, pine needles, pinecones, rocks, etc.
- Find a focus or interest to guide your nature collage exploration (it could be anything, really!)
- Go for a nature walk or backyard hunt for flowers, twigs, leaves, pine needles, pinecones, rocks, etc.
- Paint your piece of cardboard and allow to dry
- Arrange and glue your found items on the cardboard
- Allow to fully dry and enjoy!
If you enjoy nature-based art and activities, check out my post about 7 Imaginative and Easy Chalk Ideas that will inspire creativity.
What Will You Create?
If you give this project a try, please share your pictures with us. We’d love to see what you create!