Marissa is the writer of "ThePracticalMommy" and owner of Mommy Knows What's Best. She's a former teacher and a stay-at-home mom to four.
Outer Space Information for Kids
"Mom, why does the moon follow us wherever we go?"
"Dad, how big is the sun? How does it make light?"
Have you ever been asked these questions by your kids? Did you know how to answer? Explaining the concept of space, planets, stars, and the universe to young children can be challenging.
Here you are going to find some fun facts about space to share with your kids, along with some fun activities and songs to help them learn about outer space.
Our Solar System
- The moon orbits the earth. It seems to glow because the sun's rays are reflecting off of its surface. It seems to 'follow' us as we move and travel because we are moving a very small distance on Earth under a very large sky where the Moon makes its appearance.
- The Earth is a planet, which is a body in space that orbits the sun and takes up a great amount of space. It takes the Earth 365 days to make a complete orbit around the sun. The Earth also rotates on an invisible axis. Every rotation takes 24 hours to complete. The rotations cause us to have day and night depending on what side of the Earth is facing the Sun.
- There are eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Pluto was once considered a planet, but in 2006 it was decided that Pluto wasn't large enough to still be considered a planet like the others. It is now called a 'dwarf planet', just meaning that it is smaller than the others.
- Our Sun, even though it seems quite large to us, is actually considered to be a medium-sized star! That means there are suns and stars out there that are much larger. The light it produces is from the burning gases that make up the Sun, just like the other stars and suns out there. We benefit from the light and the heat it produces because the Earth is relatively close to the Sun.
- The Sun is approximately 100 times larger than the Earth in width, but it is 1,300,000 times the size of the Earth in volume! To put it in perspective, it's like comparing a golf ball to the giant balls people bounce on during the show Wipe Out.
- The high and low tides on Earth are caused by the gravitational pulls of the Sun and the Moon.
- The first time anything made by humans touched outer space was in 1957 when Russia launched its first satellite, called Sputnik.
- The first time a human touched the Moon was in 1969 when Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. His footprints, and those of other astronauts, will be there forever because there is no wind on the Moon. The only way they can be wiped away is by another space body hitting the surface of the moon.
"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
— Neil Armstrong, first person to set foot on the Moon
The Planets: Distance From the Sun
|Planet||Distance from the Sun (in miles)|
More Solar System Facts
- Our Solar System is nearly 5 billion years old! We believe it is 4.6 billion years old.
- Our Solar System started as a cloud of space dust and gas.
- The Solar System is more than just planets and moons. There is one sun, eight planets, several dwarf planets, 166 moons (that we know of), and hundreds to thousands of asteroids, comets, dust, and gas!
- Comets are moving bodies of rock and ice that orbit the Sun and pass through the inner Solar System--by the planets--every hundred years or every few thousand years. These bodies seem to have a tail due to the dust that trails the comet, which is then lit up when it nears the Sun. One of the most well-known comets is Halley's Comet, which is visible to us every 75 or so years.
Tips for Parents
The best way to make learning about space exciting for your kids is to get excited about it yourself. Anytime you show enthusiasm about a topic, your kids will want to know more.
Bring up cool facts about space anytime they show interest. Talk about new findings about space that you heard on the news. Find videos with great graphics to display and discuss.
If you make learning fun, they will always want to learn more.
Read More From Wehavekids
Beyond Our Solar System
- Space is a physical 'something'. Just like a boat displaces water and the water curves around the boat, planets, stars, etc. displace space, and space curves around it. The Universe is made up of space and the bodies--planets, moons, stars, suns, asteroids, comets, dust and gas--within Space.
- People used to believe that Earth was the center of the Universe. Boy, were they wrong! Earth isn't even the center of our Solar System! We are a relatively small planet in a solar system, which is part of a spiral-shaped galaxy named the Milky Way.
- A galaxy is a collection of solar systems, which include planets, moons, asteroids, and comets that circle around a star. There are billions of galaxies within Space. Each galaxy can have billions of stars. The Milky Way is just one in billions!
- Galaxies are held together with gravity that pulls on each sun, star, planet, moon, etc.
- Stars are made of dust and gas. They come in many different colors, but on Earth we can't see the colors. It takes hundreds, thousands or millions of years for light from stars to reach the Earth.
- As stars lose energy, they lose small parts of themselves or they explode. These parts then form new stars as they gather together and gain energy. It's the stars' way of recycling!
Are There Aliens?
Aliens: how do you explain them to kids? Do you explain the concept of them to kids?
It's kind of a tough call, and it depends on what you believe. Just keep in mind that if you do, the concept of strangers from outer space may be scary to some kids. Keep things simple and in perspective of their mindset (i.e. when someone comes to our country from another country, they are considered an 'alien'). There's no need to talk about the scary aspects of aliens adults imagine for the movies.
If you'd like to try, here are a few facts about aliens for kids:
- The word 'alien' simply means stranger. It comes from Latin and means 'strange' or 'foreign'. It wasn't used in reference to outer space until the 1950s.
- Even though many people have claimed to see them, we have no idea what aliens really look like! For all we know, they could look like us. They are usually imagined as little green beings with large heads and large eyes, but there is no evidence to support this.
- If aliens do exist, they are probably just as curious about our planet as we are about the Universe. And guess what? We'd be the aliens to them since we come from a different world.
Space Activities for Kids
- Spacewalk Scavenger Hunt: Give kids a list of space-related items for them to find, like a moon rock, space dust or even an alien. Here's the fun part: they need to use their imaginations to find these items! A moon rock could be a cool-looking grey rock they find outside. An alien could be a funny-looking toy. A ring from Saturn could be a hula hoop. The sky is the limit! This game can be played both indoors and outdoors. When everyone is don finding their collections, discuss how they relate to space.
- Lost in Space: Al the Astronaut is lost in space and you need to find him! Give clues to kids about which planet Al might be on and have them guess. Example: Al says that he is in the middle of stormy 'weather' on this largest planet in the solar system. Where is he? (Jupiter)
- Pin the Planet in the Solar System: Just like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, this game requires that kids know the basic orbiting positions of the planets in relation to the sun. On a large piece of poster board, draw the sun and orbits around the sun (no need to be accurate for this; kids will be deciding the order of the planets). The sun can be textured so that the kids have a starting point. Create the planets using colored pieces of cardstock or another type of sturdy paper. Use tape on the backs of the planets to hold them in place on the poster. To play: blindfold kids and hand them a planet, telling them which one it is. Give them a spin or two and then lead them to the poster board. They can use the sun as a reference and choose where their planet should be in orbit. When everyone has taken a turn, decide together if the planets are in the right orbits. If not, make the corrections.
- Star Gazing: Get a blanket and head outdoors on a clear night. If you have a telescope, that's a bonus, but not needed. Make note of some of the brightest stars and any constellations you see. Try to spot a 'shooting star'. Ahead of time, you can find out when the Space Station is going to pass overhead (our news station lets us know when the Space Station passes overhead).
Fun Space Activities from NASA
- NASA - Students
NASA.gov brings you images, videos and interactive features from the unique perspective of America’s space agency for students.
If you're located near NASA in Houston or another location, go for a tour of the facilities. You can see artifacts from historic space missions or possibly even current astronauts training for a mission. If you visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, you might be able to witness a rocket launch or shuttle landing. How cool would that be for your kids?
For more information, visit: Visiting NASA .
NASA in the United States
Teaching Kids About Space
The greatest thing about learning about space is that there is so much cool information out there, plus we're always learning something new since it's such a vast topic. Even for scientists, it's a never-ending learning adventure!
It can be challenging, but if you keep it simple, keep it in perspective, and make it fun, learning about space will be an out-of-this-world experience for your kids!
Questions & Answers
Question: How was our solar system made?
Answer: One theory is that our solar system was once a solar nebula full of dust and gas. Over millions of years, gravity compressed and spun the dust and gas, forming the solar system as we know it. If you need more information, I suggest searching on Google.
Skylar on March 22, 2017:
The mnemonic thing won't work because you forgot Saturn.
Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on February 21, 2015:
How interesting. I love to read about space and the solar system. I loved the video of a star forming. Thanks for all the work.
coolgirl on August 21, 2013:
i love the solar system song
kate567 on August 18, 2013:
I think space stuff is good
Marissa (author) from United States on February 19, 2013:
JoanCA and joanwz, glad you liked the hub! I didn't think of using Lost in Space with other subjects. Great thinking!
Joan Whetzel on February 19, 2013:
Great fact sheet for kids. Answers all the major questions they love to ask.
JoanCA on February 18, 2013:
Excellent hub! I love the activity suggestions, especially Lost in Space. That's an activity that could be used with other subjects as well. Voted up!
Marissa (author) from United States on January 31, 2013:
iguidenetwork , glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and commenting!
iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on January 31, 2013:
Very fun facts and ideas! Plus these activities will bond the parents and their children more. This is really nice. :)
Up, useful and a following.
Marissa (author) from United States on January 10, 2013:
MItch, thanks for the suggestions. I wasn't really discussing the volume of the Earth and Sun since the hub is geared toward younger kids, but I may add that in. I also see what you mean about the galaxies; I'll have to edit a bit there to be more clear. Thanks for reading!
Mitch Turnure from South Jersey on January 09, 2013:
Very Cool Hub. But, two things you may want to edit. First, the Sun is actually 1,300,000 times the size of the earth in volume. While it is about 100-110 time the width, the overall size is 1,300,000 times. Secondly, where you are talking about galaxies I you mention that they are planets, moons etc. around a star. I believe you meant to say solar system and that there are billions of solar systems in the galaxy and billions of galaxies in the universe. Keep Hubbing!
Marissa (author) from United States on October 16, 2012:
poornimasrinath, I'm glad your son enjoyed the song! Thanks for reading and commenting! :)
poornimasrinath from Midrand, Johannesburg, RSA on October 16, 2012:
Very informative. My son loved reading and listening to the song! Kudos
Marissa (author) from United States on October 12, 2012:
Tim, thanks for stopping by. Glad you liked it!
TIM on October 11, 2012:
Marissa (author) from United States on September 15, 2012:
cheetah786, glad you liked it. Thanks for reading and commenting!
cheetah786 on September 15, 2012:
this hub is great. it really refreshed my previous knowledge..
very interesting and excellent hub..!
Marissa (author) from United States on July 17, 2012:
teaches12345, thank you very much! :D
Dianna Mendez on July 17, 2012:
This is really good! You have made a scientific adventure out of this for kids of all ages. I love your design and how you made it all relevant to kid's interest. Voted up!
Marissa (author) from United States on July 17, 2012:
LauraGSpeaks, perhaps I will! Thanks for reading and commenting!
LauraGSpeaks from Raleigh, NC on July 16, 2012:
I love the ideas for space activities for kids. They sound fun and educational. Hey- maybe you could write a hub on a space themed birthday party.
Marissa (author) from United States on July 16, 2012:
GrantN.Z, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading!
Grant N.Z from New Zealand on July 16, 2012:
What a cool Mum. That was a fantastic hub. I enjoyed evey word. Cheers Grant
Marissa (author) from United States on July 16, 2012:
chrissieklinger, thanks for the laugh! I can only imagine nutritionists trying to fix the acronym to something like: My Very Excellent Mom Judiciously Served Us Nutella... Lol!
Thanks for reading and commenting! :D
chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on July 16, 2012:
Great, ACCURATE, info. Moms in the millennium serve nachos now instead of nine pizzas. Soon the nutritionists will get on that and we will have to change that acronym to something healthy.