Free Nature Studies: The Solar System

Planets, stars, and shooting stars: “The heavens declare the glory of God.”

Read the current chapter online: “Neighbors in the Sky”

  • Make your own “Good Times Book” — a scrapbook with photos, items from nature and other collectibles with your brief comments included.
  • Find out what “shooting stars” really are — and when you can best see them at from The University of Texas McDonald Observatory (scroll down to “What are shooting stars?”).
  • Some craters that were previously thought to have been caused by meteorites have since been found to be collapsed volcanoes.  View the impact crater Meteor Crater in Arizona.
  • View one of the largest meteorites in the world.
  • Learn more about comets at NASA.
  • You can learn about the earth passing through the tail of a comet.
  • Read about the planets and dwarf planets at NASA.  Create a “Neighbors in the Sky” notebook.  Include a page for each planet, along with comets and meteors.  You’ll find helpful notebooking resources below.
  • When this book was written, Pluto had been recently discovered.  At first it was thought to be a planet, then its status changed and it was “demoted” to dwarf planet.  What is Pluto? Find out at NASA.
  • Find out what a star is at CalTech.
  • Learn what the “curious pattern of straight lines on Mars” really were.
  • Create a “Bible star book” as mentioned in the lesson, including as many Bible verses about stars as you can.
  • Something to do #1: Use the skymap at to help find the morning star (Venus), the evening star (Mercury) and the brightest constellation (usually considered to be Orion).
  • Something to do #2: Become a sky watcher!  If you don’t have a telescope handy you can build a simple one on your own with these instructions at NASA.
  • Something to do #3: Learn ten constellations.  Record how they look, the stars that make them up, where in the sky you can find them, and how they got their name.  You’ll find helpful resources below.
  • Memorize Psalm 104:19 or Psalm 19:1-6.
  • You’ll find “Daisies” by Frank D. Sherman in the Elson Reader. You may want to copy and illustrate the poem to include in your star notebook.
  • Read aloud Psalm 148:1-5.
  • More about our neighbors in the sky from the Book of Knowledge:

Stars and planets look very much alike, although they are actually entirely different kinds of bodies. Stars are huge balls of extremely hot and glowing gas, like our own sun. The sun, of course, seems much larger because it is so much closer to the earth than any of the others. Planets, on the other hand, are much smaller than most stars and more or less like the earth. They have no light or heat of their own. The planets shine brilliantly in the sky simply because they reflect the light of the sun, somewhat as a mirror might….

On a clear night the sky is full of stars. Since the planets are constantly moving around the sun, some of these bodies may be in the night-time sky where we can see them among the stars, and some of them may be in the daytime sky where we can not see them because of the sunlight. At times when some of the planets are shining among the stars, it may be difficult to know which are planets and which are stars….

Planets can…be picked out by noticing that over a period of time they change their positions against the background of the stars. The word planet means wanderer. Throughout the year, the planets can be seen traveling against the starry sky. The stars, on the other hand, seem to remain fixed in relation to each other.

“Wonder Questions: How Can We Tell a Star From a Planet?,” The Book of Knowledge
  • The Skies
    Ready to go outdoors? The Handbook of Nature Study covers the stars, the sun, comets and meteors, shooting stars, and other sky features beginning on page 815, and continuing through page 859.

Further Investigation

What Causes a “Falling Star”?
Background information and meteor shower schedule at NASA.

The Planets
Facts at


Craters and Meteorites
Students make an impact crater and measure and record the results with these instructions at

Meteors and the Craters They Make
Three activities at Berkeley for kids that investigate how the size, angle and speed of the meteor affects the impact crater.

Comets Lesson Plan
Students make a model of a comet nucleus in this lesson plan at  (The rest of the lesson plan utilizes commercial software.)

Changing Constellations
A look at how constellations change in the night sky over periods of time.

Planetarium for Your Computer {Free}
Download this open source software to see what you can see in your night sky.


Meteor! by Patricia Polacco
Picture book from one of our favorite author/illustrators.  True story about what happened when a meteor fell in Grandma and Grandpa’s yard!

The Astronomy Book

The New Astronomy Book by Danny R. Faulkner
The size of the universe, thoughts on the Big Bang theory, eclipses, constellations, space exploration, the sun, the planets, stars, galaxies, asteroids, and comets.  Also includes a free study guide.

Star Stories for Little Folks by Gertrude Chandler Warner
This free public domain book helps you find the constellations while making a star notebook. The link includes helpful notebooking pages. Great for young astronomers!

A Field Book of the Stars by William Tyler Olcott
Public domain book helpful for becoming acquainted with the constellations.

Find the Constellations

Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey
A favorite for learning about the constellations from the author of the Curious George series.

Janice VanCleave’s The Solar System by Janice VanCleave
The Janice VanCleave series of science experiment books has long been favorites among homeschool moms.  Subtitled “Mind-Boggling Experiments You Can Turn into Science Fair Projects,” experiments include tracing the earth’s path, making a comet, and charting the universe.  Easy experiments with items typically on hand or inexpensive.

Starland ~ Free eBook
Public domain option recommended in the teacher edition.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans
Halley's Comet: A Comets Unit Study

Halley’s Comet: A Unit Study
Our own unit that discusses a time when the earth traveled through a comet’s tail.  Also includes activities, lesson plan and notebooking helps.

What are Meteoroids, Meteors, and Meteorites?
Free lesson from Great Science  Adventures: The World of Space by Dinah Zike that includes foldables, two activities and enrichment activities.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Solar System Coloring Page
Comes with and without Pluto.

Space Rocks
Older free sample of the Astronomy Junior Notebooking Journal that went with Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Apologia. This 14-page sample includes coloring pages, notebooking pages for meteors, asteroids and comets, meteor shower chart, copywork, science project page, experiment, and layered book.

Planet Order List
Nice graphic for notebook at Berkeley.

Planet Image Cards
Shown in their relative sizes also at Berkeley.

Star Book Pages
Constellation pages that go along with the Star Stories book mentioned above.

The Solar System Notebooking Pages
Simple pages that go with the lesson for copywork, narrations, and wrapping up.

Enjoy the complete series:
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World

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