Sun Earth Moon Craft Model for Kids with Activities

by TerriRexson

A fun paper craft that teach kids the relationships between the sun, earth and moon. Includes science facts as suggested activities to do with your model.

Many toddlers and preschoolers are capable of understanding that the moon goes round (orbits) the earth and the earth orbits the sun. And primary school children will enjoy the activity too and be able to use the completed model to understand some interesting facts.

A hands-on craft activity to build a sun, earth, moon model helps kids to really understand the relationship between the planet we live on, its moon and the sun. You can put the model up on the wall afterwards as a reminder of the sun - earth - moon system.

Kids who learn science in a fun practical way are more likely to remember it.

Some of the activities here are best done over the course of a lunar month as our view of the moon changes, so remember to bookmark this page so you can find it again.

Make this Sun Earth Moon Craft Model for Kids

Sun Earth Moon Craft for Kids
Sun Earth Moon Craft for Kids

Sun Earth Moon Model - Craft Supplies

For this project you'll need cardstock in four different colors, ideally: 

  • White for the moon
  • Green or blue for the earth
  • Yellow or orange for the sun
  • Black for the connectors (so you can make them disappear on a black background if you want to.)

And you'll also need:

  • 3 paper fasteners (split pins)

And optionally

  • Sticky tack to mount the model on the wall
Sun Earth Moon Craft Template
Sun Earth Moon Craft Template

Cut out the Sun, Earth and Moon and Connectors

Now you need to cut out a small white moon, a medium-sized green earth and a large yellow moon. These are not to scale! They just give the idea of the relative size. You can print the template above if you like (just cut a circle around the sun if you like). It will work best if you print onto cardstock. 

I used my Silhouette Cameo craft cutter to make neat circles and make a fancy shape for the sun. You can find the SVG files I created for this project here: Sun Moon Earth Craft Cutter Model (SVG)

Older kids could cut out their own circles by finding round objects to draw around or using a compass from a geometry set. 

Once you have the circles, make sure the kids know what each one represents. Then ask them to show how they move around each other. Lay them out so that there's plenty of room for the moon to pass between the earth and the sun. Cut black connector strips the right lengths to join the moon to the earth, and the earth to the sun. (Again I've included the template for the strips.)

Create the Orbits with Connector Strips and Paper Fasteners

And optionally mount it on the wall.

Now your child can connect up their sun, earth, moon model using paper fasteners. Make sure that the moon can pass in front on the connector that joins the earth to the sun. 

Now you can have fun making the moon orbit the earth and the earth orbit the sun. 

At this point you can optionally mount your model on a wall or a chalkboard. (We have a wall painted with blackboard paint which is ideal.)

Shape the split pins so you can stick them into sticky tack and still allow the model to move freely. 

Fix the sun in place with sticky tack - the sun is not going to move so put it in the center of the area you will be using. 

Take the same approach with the earth and moon but use smaller amounts of sticky tack so they are easy to move. 

Now you can change the configuration of your model easily to represent different times of the month (by moving the moon) and year (by moving the earth.)

You can also mark a dot on the earth to represent your location so you can talk about day and night and which part of the moon is visible. (The paper fastener represents the north pole if you are in the northern hemisphere and the south pole if you are in the southern hemisphere - but for little kids don't worry about this too much!)

Sun Earth Moon Activities for Kids

OK, now we have our model. Either on a flat surface or mounted vertically on a wall. Here are a few activities you can do. 

What is a Full Moon?

A full moon occurs when the Sun - Earth - Moon are aligned. The whole of the part of the moon that we can see (the near side) is lit up by the sun. 

It's ideal if you can do this when there's a real full moon, check a full moon calendar

Full Moon Model
Full Moon Model

What is a New Moon?

A new moon occurs when the moon is between the earth and the sun. The sun is shining on the back of the moon. None of the part of the moon that we can see from earth is lit up. 

Again you could do this where there is a real new moon. You won't be able to see the moon during a new moon. 

New Moon Model
New Moon Model

Why Does the Moon always Look the Same?

We always see the same part of the moon (well roughly, there is a little variation.) The dark patches on the moon are always in the same place when viewed from the same location. 

You can show why this is with your model. Mark half of your moon - you could draw a line across the moon and then draw dark patches on one side and face it towards earth. We call this the near side of the moon. 

Now rotate the moon around the earth keeping the near side facing towards earth. This is how the moon moves around the earth, but we always see the same side of the moon. 

We shaded half the moon and then painted it with glow in the dark paint. 

Near Side of the Moon
Near Side of the Moon

How Does the Moon Shine?

We can only see the moon because it reflects light from the sun - it doesn't make it's own light. 

At any time the half of the moon that faces towards the sun is lit up and the other half is in darkness. 

Put the moon in different places and ask your child which part of it is lit up. You can use a piece of black card to cover up the dark half of the moon. 

Phases of the Moon
Phases of the Moon

Phases of the Moon

You can now talk about the phases of the moon. Move the moon into different positions and work out how much of the moon we can see from earth at that time, or during that phase of the moon. 

Cover up the dark part of the moon - the opposite side to the sun. Keep the near side of the moon facing towards the earth. How much of the near side of the moon is visible?

Of course the moon isn't a flat disc, it's a sphere so we'll see a segment of the moon. 

How Long does it Take for the Earth to Orbit the Sun?

The earth takes a year or roughly 365 days to orbit the sun. You can talk about the time between birthdays, or the time between Christmases. 

You could move the earth a little bit each evening - about one degree per day. 

How Long Does it Take for the Moon to Orbit the Earth?

The moon takes just over 27 days to orbit the earth. It can be hard for little kids to grasp how long a month is. If they have a calendar then you can relate the time to that. 

You could move the moon a little bit each night before bedtime (about 13 degrees each night.) Older kids could measure the amount with a protractor. 

More Space Stuff for Kids

A collection of our favorite space toys for kids. Lots of ideas for kids who are fascinated by astronauts, space shuttles and exploration of the planets.
Astronauts in space is a brilliant theme for a party. Here's a collection of my favorite space party supplies and ideas for planning a fun space party.
Do you know a kid who wants to dress up as an astronaut? Take a look at our collection of the best space suit costumes for kids.
Updated: 03/11/2012, TerriRexson
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JoHarrington on 03/11/2012

I'm going to pass this onto my mother, who runs a playgroup.

I can't stop staring at the sun. I don't know if it's my screen but it seems to be actually glowing! LOL

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