My preschool students love to make these coffee filter planets! This is a great addition to your list of preschool science experiments and a must-have for your preschool space theme.
The coffee filter planet activity are a cool science experiment that doubles as a beautiful art project. So this activity is not only a ton of fun, but it’s also full of so many opportunities for learning!
To top it all off, the kid-made planet project makes an amazing room display. I think they make the biggest impact mounted to a window, with the light shining through the different colors. But they’d make a great visual aid on the white board, bulletin board, or classroom door as well!
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Related: Space Messy Play Ideas
Without fail, whenever we learn about space, the questions my students ask are always amazingly thought-out!
These coffee filter planets are one of my favorite space activities to do with them. Best of all, they’re full of learning.
How to Make Coffee Filter Planets
I keep calling this a preschool craft, as it has an end goal in mind. However, it is more of a mix of craftiness and process art.
The children don’t need to make their coffee filter planets the same we did, and they get to explore what happens when water is absorbed by colorful coffee filters.
Check out the process in the attached video!
One of the best things about these coffee filter planets? You can make them with just a few simple materials!
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- Coffee Filters
- Paper Plates
- Spray bottle filled with water
- Contact paper (optional)
Prep for the Planet Suncatchers
Cut the eight planets out of coffee filters. I did this free-hand, and the planets are obviously not scaled correctly!
I left Jupiter, the largest planet, as an intact coffee filter. Then I cut out the rest of the planets in descending order by size. I wanted to have them sized differently to help the kiddos see how the planets compare to each other.
I like to read a lot of fun planet books to the children before we make coffee filter planets, so they have a basic understanding of the solar system first.
Real photos of the planets are a must, too! This craft is a fun way to extend their knowledge and help them order the planets.
Making the Coffee Filter Planets
My son really enjoyed testing out the coffee filter planets, and he had so many plans for more ideas to teach the preschoolers about space!
Here are the colors we went with for each planet (based on observations made from books and photos):
- Mercury – gray and brown
- Venus – yellow and brown
- Earth – green and blue
- Mars – red and orange
- Jupiter – red, brown, orange, and yellow
- Saturn – brown and yellow
- Uranus – blue
- Neptune – blue and purple
Starting with Mercury, have the kids color in the coffee filter planets with markers.
I’ve found it’s best to do this by putting them on individual paper plates.
By using plates, the inevitable maker mess (and the upcoming water mess) is neatly contained!
Related: Galaxy Slime
Once the coffee filters are colored in, let the children spray water onto them.
It’s best to thoroughly coat the marker drawings with water without totally drowning the coffee filters.
Related: Starry Night Glitter Art for Kids
Remove the coffee filters from the paper plates and place them on a rack to dry. Of course, if you don’t have a rack, no worries! Place them anywhere you have room.
But I’ve found that they definitely dry faster when they’re off of the wet plates.
Once all of the coffee filter planets are dry, put them up in the windows! They make pretty sun catchers, if I do say so myself.
At first, we put them up in the windows with tape, but they didn’t stay as well as we’d hoped.
So we placed the planets on a piece of contact paper that’s taped up in the window, sticky side out. I made sure the planets were labeled too, of course!
Learning With This Planets Craft
Here’s a taste of the early education concepts the coffee filter planets incorporate:
- Fine motor skills (coloring and using the spray bottle)
- Science (talking about the planets’ locations and other details)
- Math (discussing colors, ordering the planets from 1st through 8th, and comparing sizes)
- Literacy (all of the oral language involved throughout the craft and the words labeling the planets)
(Please note that we didn’t include the dwarf planet Pluto when making our space suncatchers. We generally talk some about Pluto, and I personally love this interactive site from NASA about it! If my preschoolers want to include Pluto when they do this activity, they absolutely can!)
Related: Fizzing Planet Science Experiment
Done-for-You Lesson Plans
Save time and get right to the playful learning with Preschool Teacher 101’s printable lesson plan sets. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, along with related printables.
Join our waiting list while you’re there, so you can be the first to hear when our membership is open next!
More Space Crafts for Kids
If you and the kids loved the coffee filter planets, here are even more ideas for your preschool space theme:
My Space Book from Powerful Mothering
Rocket Landings Word Families Game from Rainy Day Mum
Space Science Experiments from No Stress Homeschooling
Jupiter’s Moons – Counting by 5s from Capri Plus 3
Literacy Activities in the Kitchen: Rocket Pizza from Growing Book by Book
Learning About the Moon: Making Moon Bread from The Educators’ Spin On It
Space Scene Play Mat from Fun Learning for Kids
Passport to the Planets: A Science Writing Prompt for Kids from Still Playing School
Originally published April 1, 2015. Post updated to include video and more images.