Let’s explore our solar system with a gorgeous craft! These Felted Ball Planets are a fun project with an active spin that helps kids learn about the planets and get their wiggles out. Plus, they’re beautiful and make garlands and necklaces too.
Solar System STEAM
We’re always looking for fun ways to add art to our science learning. Fun ways to turn STEM into STEAM… This project is a perfect way to enhance your space science learning. It’s filled with solar system exploration and some cool learning about animal hair, too. And we’ve got some tools to help you add this project to your activity plan.
First up, let’s talk planets. Here’s my first favorite tool when it comes to the planets… This is a mnemonic that helps us remember the order of the planets from the Sun outwards.
My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles
(Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune)
For this project, we’ve also pulled from our STEAM Explorers Space ebook a helpful solar system poster and some cool images of our solar system’s planets and moons.
To grab this helpful pack that includes printable project directions too, just fill out the form below.
What is Felting?
These planets go from loose wool to spheres because of a process called felting. Felting is the interlocking and matting of natural fibers like wool when heat, moisture, and mechanical action (like shaking in an Easter egg) is added. Sheep hair (and that of other animals, too) is made of something called keratin. If you looked at it under a microscope, you would see tiny scales. When you put the wool in hot soapy water, the scales lift up due to the pH and temperature of the water. Then when you rub the wool, they hook together, forming felt. As the balls felt together, the wool shrinks into a dense, firm ball.
Wool Felted Ball Planets Supplies Needed
This project is a great way to use all those plastic Easter eggs in the off season. You’ll need some wool roving which you can find in a craft store or affordably online. And one bag of roving makes a ton of planets!
- Wool roving or 100% wool yarn
- Dishwashing soap
- Dish towel
- Plastic Easter egg or other rounded plastic container with a lid
- Elastic (optional)
- Large needle (optional)
How to Prepare the Wool for Felted Ball Planets
- Choose 2-3 colors for your planet.
- Prepare your wool roving by separating out sections of the roving and cutting it to your desired length.
- Snip the roving into small chunks.
- Gather and ball up enough roving to make a ball twice the size of your desired felt ball. The roving compresses through the process and the ball gets much smaller.
How to Prepare the Wool for Striped Felt Balls
- Choose 2-3 colors for your planet.
- Prepare your wool roving by separating out sections of the roving and cutting it to your desired length. Keep the roving at least twice as long as the circumference of your desired planet.
- Gather a small ball of roving for the core of your planet. Make this about the size of your desired final planet size.
- Now wrap the ball with the roving lengths in a striped pattern until the ball is twice the size of your desired planet ball.
How to Make Felted Ball Planets
- Protect your surface with a tray or towel as this project gets wet.
- Prepare two large bowls, one with cold water, and one with hot water and 1 tablespoon of dish soap.
- Gather a handful of wool roving, chopped up pieces or long strands for the striped planets.
- Dip your roving ball into the bowl of hot, soapy water and work between your fingers until the wool starts to stick together. Try to keep it in a ball shape as much as possible. This takes about 2 minutes.
- Roll the ball in your palms until fairly round (it doesn’t have to be perfect!).
- Dip the ball into the cold water and rinse off some of the soap. Squeeze water out of the ball gently and place inside an Easter egg and close tightly.
- Wrap egg in a dish towel and shake for 1 minute. Repeat step 5 and shake again until your ball has shrunk in size by about half. If your ball has any cracks, you can wrap it with some roving and repeat the soap bath and shaking process.
- Let dry for about 24 hours.
What to Do With the Felt Ball Planets
These planets are really beautiful and fun, so now you just need to figure out what to do with them. They’re pretty in a little display bowl or jar. They also make a pretty necklace or garland! To thread them, feed a large needle with jewelry elastic and push the needle through the planet. Cut the elastic and desired length and tie a knot to secure.
More Space STEAM Fun for Kids
Do your kiddos dream of heading to space one day? Do they love staring at the stars? Maybe they’ve watched rockets take off with curiosity. Feed that interest with the STEAM Explorers Space Ebook Unit Study! These felt planets are a sneak peek into all that fun.
Kids will love making a DIY telescope, crafting a solar system, crafting the Earth’s orbit and making rockets fly, and so much more! You’ll love the helpful standards-based learning, printables, and tools that make STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, & math) exploration easy!
Inside every STEAM Explorers ebook are:
- Projects: Hands-on science, technology, engineering, art, and math projects
- Printables: Fun printables for independent learning and fun
- Recipes: Delicious recipes that have a learning spin
- Learning: Interesting reading that helps kids learn about our planet on every page
- Activity Calendar: A helpful calendar to make adding STEAM to your day simple and fun.
- Supplies List: A handy supplies list for the month that makes prep easy.
- BONUS! A coupon to save 25% on a monthly STEAM Explorers subscription. That’s where you’ll find a kid-safe online portal filled with helpful activity videos, teacher lesson plans, and more.