Is there anyone who isn’t fascinated by astronomy? My kids admittedly have a hard time wrapping their heads around the enormity of space and will ask questions like, “What’s bigger…Jupiter or California?” However, they love talking about planets and learning whatever I’m willing to teach them. NASA’s awesome new pictures of Pluto prompted me to make these free, printable solar system cards.
These space cards are in the Montessori 3-part nomenclature card style, but I included extra information on each one to make them a little more like trading cards. I was planning to save them as an independent activity for when my 5 and half year old was a bit older, so I was surprised when all of my kids wanted to play with them right away.
My baby mostly just wanted to chew on them, but they’re laminated, so it was okay. My 5 and half year old used the control cards to figure out how to match the picture and information cards. He’s starting to read and was motivated enough to try and read each label on his own. I was especially surprised that my 3 year old found her own way to “play” as well. She essentially invented the job of helping her brother make pairs by matching just the picture cards to the control cards.
I’d already taught my kids about the 8 planets and of course they know about the sun and the moon, but with these cards, we were also able to talk about the 5 dwarf planets as well (including poor, demoted Pluto). When they are a little older, I’ll use them to talk about terrestrial planets vs. gas giants vs. ice giants, the asteroid belt, the Kuiper belt, and the differences between asteroids, meteoroids, meteors, meteorites, and comets. To be honest, I didn’t know the differences between all these terms before making these cards.
If you’re looking for a book to go along with these solar system cards, I recommend Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian (affiliate link). Since the cards themselves contain so many facts, I think the creativity in this book is a nice balance. The book contains a wide variety of poem styles, all of which my 5 and a half year old and I enjoyed. (Our favorite was the one about poor Pluto.) We checked this book out from the library, but we liked it so much I’m sure I’ll add it to our collection eventually.
Before too long, I plan to make similar sets of cards specifically for outer space (including terms like galaxy, supernova, black hole, and nebula) and space exploration (going back to Copernicus and Galileo and including modern terms like space shuttle and international space station). If you like these solar system cards, please consider signing up for my newsletter to be notified when these related sets are available.
Recommended Age Range: Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle School, High School
Time Required: ~1 hour
Cost: Less than $3 in used supplies (even cheaper if you don’t laminate them or use contact paper instead.)
- paper (for printing Solar System Cards printable and the corresponding Control Cards)
- laminating pouches
Supplies & Tools:
- laminator (affiliate link)
- scissors or paper cutter (or both)
- Print the Solar System Cards and Control Cards printables. (Note: Only the first 6 pages of each document should be printed as the last 2 pages contain legal information about sharing and image sources.)
- Laminate the pages.
- Cut out the laminated cards.
In addition to using these cards as a self-correcting, independent activity, they can also be used for a multi-player memory-style, matching game.