Elementary Science


Author Post
Tanya Hernandez Tanya Hernandez 455 Points

What are some exciting and effective ways for elementary students to learn the names of the planets?

As a future elementary teacher, I would love to learn fun and effective ways to help the students learn about the planets. Open to all ideas! Thank you.

Valeria Garcia Valeria Garcia 385 Points

Hi, Tanya I think there are so many fun ways you can introduce the planets with students. Growing up, I found it easy and fun to learn about them by watching videos. Also, I think songs about the planets would really help students learn all about them. A good idea you can do is separate your students into groups and assign each group a planet they can study. Students can work on posters/anchor charts on the planets. Furthermore, I think you can incorporate games to help them learn the names of the planets. 

Brenda Garza Brenda Garza 605 Points

Hey Tanya, I remember learning the planets with a ball. The teacher would first teach us the lesson and then we would have a fun activity and toss the ball to each other by naming each planet in order. If we got it wrong we would go to the back of the line and then start over from the beginning. It was super fun and I loved learning the names of them like that. Watching videos can also be a great tool to use to help students or even a work activity or making a fun projects with the class.

Rachel Frey Rachel Frey 463 Points

While I agree with the other comments about how the students need to learn about the planets, I was taught the mnemonic device that uses a sentence where each word starts with the same letter as the corresponding planet (My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos).  This sentence varies among teachers, but it has still stuck with me into my adulthood.

Mayte Salinas Mayte Salinas 710 Points

Hello Tanya! 

Growing up I remember many ways in which my teachers implemented the learning of the planets and the solar system. One way in which we can make learning fun yet effective for our students would be my having them create models of our solar system, that will portray the planets’ characteristics and playing interactive videos about the solar system. 

By having them make a solar system model students will be able to connect the planets names to their characteristics and that way learning the names becomes easier since they will be able to connect the images to the names. 

Interactive videos about the solar system would also be effective since the video will go into further detail about the planets and their characteristics. 

Matt Bobrowsky Matt Bobrowsky 6410 Points

I'm going to suggest more than just having the students learn the names of the planets, because learning the names of things doesn't tell you anything about them.  That's not science.  (You could know what a chicken is called in 20 different languages and still know nothing about a chicken.)  Instead, have them learn some interesting things about the planets, look at photos of them, discuss whether people could live on those planets, or what they would need to bring with them to survive.  That will make for some really interesting conversations.

You could also have students create travel brochures for the planets.  Divide them into groups, and assign each group (or let them pick) a planet.  That group will then be responsible for finding out enough about their planet to create a travel brochure.  Each group should then present their travel brochure -- and additional interesting information -- to the whole class.  After all the presentations, students can discuss which planets sound like the best (or worst) ones to visit -- and why.  As they discuss all about the planets, they will naturally come to know all the planet names.

Kennedy Brown Kennedy Brown 760 Points

I completely agree with this statement - memorizing the planets doesn't ensure that they will know the main facts about each planet. The research that they make of the planets will be critical in order for the students to understand the content topic, then they will learn the names. (An acronym could be nice as well though!)


To make it engaging/modern, you can have the kids in groups and have them design a 'social-media' profile page, like Facebook or Instagram, and have them research enough information that they think would be sufficient to present to the kids!

Aprile Scharf Aprile Scharf 1760 Points

Love this post.  I'm just starting my MA in Education.  Just finished reading my first assignments about PBS and scientific literacy-  and these suggestions make the articles that I read come alive in the classroom.

Thank you.

Richard Lahti Richard Lahti 3080 Points

Matt, you absolutely nailed it.  Memorizing names on a list in so 1950's.  This is not what education is about, this is not what the NGSS is about and this is not what teachers should be doing (but making up songs and mnemonics for just such low level outcomes is what gets some teachers out of bed in the morning).

While some would argue you need to memorize the names first to have anchors for discussion (and I do still think memorizing some of the more common elements on the perdiofic table can save time in the long run) I completely agree that if the students are engaged in meaningful work on the planets, learning the names will happen automatically (just like in chem, that the 20th or so time you look up oxygen's atomic mass, it just sinks in that it is 16..., whether or not you did a song and dance to force them to memorize this at the start).


Yurani Herrera Yurani Herrera 150 Points

Hi Tanya, I think that you could do so many fun activities with the kids. You could watch so many videos, do a lot of activities like for them to create a planet in the way that they would remember it and the colors can help you a lot.

Lori Norwood Lori Norwood 11126 Points

I like what Matt said also, just memorizing the names of the planets doesn't tell you much.  Having them look at pictures, discuss whether humans could live on that planet, investigate different things you might see on the planets, such as the Great Red Spot, etc, but make it fun for the students.  :-)

Hannah Rumble Hannah Rumble 398 Points

I agree that memorization is almost never effective when trying to get students to remember and retain information. I love your idea of looking at pictures and facilitating a class discussion, promoting critical thinking, about whether or not humans could live on each of the planets or not as well as each planet's individual characteristics. Another fun way that I think is almost always effective in helping students memorize information is finding a song/video that goes along with the planets. So many of the 'big' topics I had to try and memorize information for and did so via song are still in my brain to this day because of this.

Julia Fiddler Julia Fiddler 135 Points

I remember when I was in Elementary school, we used mneumonics to remember the names of the planets.  This was fun to do because students can get creative and think of their own mneumonics.  In order to remember the names of the planets while also learning facts about them, I remember creating a lesson plan for 'Postcards from Space'.  Students would create a postcard from the planet that they chose to research, and they would write notes on the back with facts that they have learned.  This would take it a step further from memorizing names and would add meaning to learning about the planets.  Getting to draw pictures of their planets on the front and adding the facts makes it more memorable in a student's mind.  

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