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Cosmic kingdom

Use a map of the UK to work out which planets go where, as we explore the wonders of our solar system.

You will need

  • Pens or pencils
  • Stickers in nine different colours, or sticky labels
  • Craft materials, including paper, string and chalk (optional)
  • Nine different-sized balls or ball-shaped items (optional)
Mapping out the answers
PNG – 104.0KB

Think about the solar system we live in, it’s so vast that it takes years for space crafts to reach the furthest point. We have the sun, eight planets and one dwarf planet plus a variety of moons and distant stars that make our skies light up at night. This game will help put into perspective how big our solar system is by working as a group to map the planets on a picture of the United Kingdom.

Before you begin

  • Print copies of a map of the UK for each group. Make these as large as possible.
  • Find stickers in nine different colours. Think about using different colours for each planet or having a colour for each group. Also consider using white stickers and getting everybody to draw their planets before sticking them on.

Planet discovery

  1. Everyone should split into groups of no more than four. Give each group a map of the UK and their stickers or labels.
  2. See who can name the one star and nine (named) planets and dwarf planets in our solar system. Find out if anyone knows what order they’re in, from innermost to outermost.
  1. Everyone should use their blank map of the UK to demonstrate which planet goes where. Start by placing the ‘Ssn’ sticker at Land’s End, the south-westernmost tip of the UK. Check that everyone’s done this.
  2. Now, place the remaining planet stickers on the map, where they go in relation to the sun and each other. If your groups are drawing pictures of the planets on labels, give them an extra few minutes (and pens and pencils) to do this. Everyone should have ten minutes to place all their stickers.
  3. Check that groups work together to decide where their stickers should go. Encourage everyone to think before they stick, as some planets are more distant than others.
  4. When all of the stickers are on all of the maps, everyone should sit in a line in their groups and put their maps out in front of them. Compare the maps. See if anyone has put their stickers in different orders, or different distances apart.
  5. Show everyone the 'Mapping out the answers' image attached, so they can see which planet and dwarf planet should go where.

Enjoyed that? Take it further with...

Planetary mission

  • Create a big version of a map of the UK using paper, string or chalk on the floor of your meeting place.
  • Using different sized activity balls, place them as the planets on the UK map.

Reflection

The solar system we live in is so vast that it takes years for spacecraft to reach the furthest point. There is the sun, eight planets, one dwarf planet and a huge variety of moons, asteroids and distant stars that make our skies light up at night. This activity helps put into perspective how big our solar system is by working as a group to map the planets on a picture of the United Kingdom. How did you agree as a team which planet went where? Did you have a resident expert or was it harder to remember the order of the planets outward from the sun?

Safety

All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.