How to Make a Solar System with Paper Mache

If you want to know how to make a solar system with paper mache using elements you have at home, follow these easy step-by-step instructions.
How to Make a Solar System with Paper Mache

Last update: 07 July, 2022

Children are fascinated by the universe, and when they start studying it in school, they get very excited about it. Therefore, today we’ll explain how to make a solar system with paper mache so that you can help them create their own model at home.

This craft is very fun and has several interesting components, as it involves plastic activities, astronomy, and geography.

It’s also possible to add more knowledge, such as math and geometry calculations, ecology, and recycling concepts. Because with this activity, we¡re going to give a second use to some household items, such as paper and an old umbrella that was going to go to the dump.

Undoubtedly, making a solar system with paper mache can become a transversal and integral way to cover several school subjects. Shall we get started?

A solar system for children with a DIY touch

The Do It Yourself (DIY) trend is very popular these days, and the best thing is that we can apply it to different projects, such as making our own solar system with paper mache.

The first thing we’ll do is research the size of the planets in order to have scale models and to make sure that the proportions of the celestial bodies are as close as possible to reality.

We’ll look for an image or a graph of the Solar System on the Internet to use as a guide and information on the size of each planet. As a reference, you can use the following proportions.

Planets Diameter (in kilometers) Diameter to scale (in centimeters)
Mercury 3,032 .75
Venus 7,520 2.5
Earth 7,926 2.5
Mars 4,222 1.25
Jupiter 88,846 26
Saturn 74,898 24
Uranus 31,763 10
Neptune 30,801 61
Pluto 1,476 .5

As for the sun, its diameter is more than 807,786 miles! Therefore, we’re going to represent it with a large sphere, regardless of the scale size.

Don’t you know the order of the planets? Remember this phrase and you’ll never forget it: MEVEMA JUSA UNEPLU (MErcury, Venus, Earth, MArs, JUpiter, SAturn, Uranus, NEptune, PLUto)

A young boy dreaming of being an astronaut.
Children love the universe and everything related to it. Encourage them to make their own models at home so that they get a sense of the immensity of the solar system.

How to make the craft?

Once you have the size guide, you can choose how you’re going to make the craft, because there are several ways to present it:

  • A model
  • A mobile of hanging planets
  • A relief picture to hang on the wall

Here, we chose to make a model with an old umbrella, a fun idea that allows you to recycle and learn. Let’s start now!

What do you need to make the solar system with paper mache?

To make this craft, you’re going to need the following elements:

  • An old umbrella
  • Newspaper
  • A plastic bowl
  • Paintbrushes
  • A ruler
  • Colored paints (9 different colors)
  • Transparent thread
  • A large styrofoam sphere

Step by step instructions

  1. Prepare paper mache dough in a plastic bowl.
  2. Fold sheets of newspaper, pressing them very well with your hands. Form balls with the approximate measure of the different sizes of the planets. Measure them across with the ruler to know their diameter.
  3. Cover the balls with the paper mache paste. Ideally, you should apply two or three layers and allow some time for drying between one application and the next.
  4. Attach a transparent thread and hang the balls to let them dry for at least 24 hours.
  5. The next day, prepare the tempera paints and paint each of the paper balls in different colors.
  6. Look at the images you looked up and notice that each planet has a distinctive color. For example, Mars is ‘the red planet’, Earth is green and blue, Neptune is mostly blue or purple, and Saturn is yellowish-brown and has a ring system.
  7. Take the umbrella and remove the cloth, but leave the ribs clean.
  8. Hang the painted planets and you’ll see that they seem to be floating in the air!
  9. For the sun, paint the styrofoam sphere yellow. Let it dry for a few hours.
  10. Stick the sphere on the tip of the umbrella – now your solar system is ready!
A girl making a paper mache ball.
Paper mache is a simple, economical, and ecological technique to give life to your creations.

Crafts for learning

Crafts can be used as one more technique to teach academic content. It’s much easier for children to understand certain concepts if they’re given a real form, because it allows them to touch and see them first-hand.

“In my opinion, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

-Carl Sagan

In the case of the solar system, the possibility of representing the planets to scale allows children to have a more accurate idea of the size and proportions of each one.

Moreover, making this creation with paper mache is a way of transforming something distant and unreachable into something close and tangible for children. With the added value that they’ll do it with their own hands and with recycled paper, which gives an ecological imprint to a geography project.

In conclusion, it’s possible to learn while getting a little dirty and having a lot of fun! Whether at home or at school, the most important thing about this activity is to understand the vastness of the universe and to visualize the smallness of our wonderful planet Earth.

It might interest you...
A Simple Explanation of How Planet Earth Formed
You are Mom
Read it in You are Mom
A Simple Explanation of How Planet Earth Formed

The formation of Planet Earth is a mystery we'll probably neverl fully understand, although the hypothesis that we'll present today seems to be cor...