The Magic School Bus Lost in Space
In this activity, students learn the planets by making two models of the solar system.
- Grades: 3–5
Field Trip Notes
This time, Arnold wants to go on a field trip — so his show-off cousin Janet can see what a great teacher Ms. Frizzle is. The Bus becomes a spaceship and the class visits the Sun, Mercury, Venus, and Mars. When an asteroid hits the "spaceship," Ms. Frizzle puts on a jet pack and goes outside to make repairs. By accident, The Friz jets away into space, leaving the kids alone on the Bus. The class is lost in space without a teacher! Can the kids use what they know to find Ms. Frizzle and get back home?
Discover the Planets
When Ms. Frizzle jets away into space, she talks with the kids by radio. She gives hints for her students to find her — and to identify the planets as they go. In this activity, your kids identify the planets by making two models of the solar system. The first shows the order of the planets, and the second show the planets' relative sizes.
What You Need
- Stick-on labels
- Items to represent planets: basketball (Jupiter), soccer ball (Saturn), 2 softballs (Uranus, Neptune), 2 Ping Pong balls (Earth, Venus), 1 jacks ball (Mars), 1 marble (Mercury)
- Books on the solar system
- Write on a piece of chart paper the approximate diameters of the planets: Mercury (4,900 km), Venus (12,100 km), Earth (12,800 km), Mars (6,800 km), Jupiter (143,000 km), Saturn (121,000 km), Uranus (51,100 km), Neptune (49,500 km). Diameters are in kllometers.
Talk About It
Ask: What are the names of the eight planets in the solar system? What order are they in?
What To Do
1. Have kids "Be a Planet" in groups of 9. Children can be the sun or one of the eight planets.
- Each child makes a label showing the planet (or the sun) that he or she stands for. Have children write the name and draw a picture of the planet on the label.
- Form a line showing the order of the planets from the sun.
- Then, orbit around the sun.
2. Give groups the balls and marbles to do "Make a Model." Children can show the approximate size of the planets in relation to one another by lining up the round objects in the order of the planets.
- Look at the balls and marbles. These objects stand for the planets.
- Have children place them in order of the planets to make a model of the solar system.
Kids can write about a planet they like, telling its name, its location from the sun, and what is special about it.