Space is fascinating. Yet, it can be difficult to get children to engage with the wider universes. Sure, we can show kids movies and NASA launches. Yes, we can look up at the sky, sometimes while using a telescope. But what are good space activities for kids?
Good space activities for kids are fun, hands-on, and help them visualize and understand our universe. For example, projects such as models that demonstrate the arrangements of planets and provide perspective on their distance from each other make our solar system accessible.
We have put 50 space activities that are enjoyable and engaging. Children come in a wide range of ages and developmental stages, and our list reflects this. We have something for everyone, from astronaut training to solar system snacks, crafts, and even building your own telescope.
50 Space Activities for Kids
From STEM to STEAM, there is a space activity to meet your needs in our list of 50 suggestions.
Astronaut Glove Box
Astronauts are often required to do delicate and intricate tasks while wearing incredibly bulky gear. Even when indoors in the space station, astronauts have to conduct their tests using a “glove box” so humans don’t contaminate or damage the items. To give her kids a taste of this experience, Gift of Curiosity put together an Astronaut Glove Box activity.
This is activity will lead to a lot of giggles while working on children’s hand-eye coordination. A fantastic and engaging way to get kids excited about space.
Astronaut Training: Physical Fitness
Physical education can be part of Space Week, too. Most people are aware that staying in shape is a challenge in space. However, astronauts have to be incredibly fit even before they blast off. Bell Museum has created an astronaut physical fitness program for kids, complete with “Moon Walk” training.
Balloon Rockets are a blast. This is an easy and inexpensive space activity that packs in a ton of excitement and joy. All it requires is two chairs, string, a balloon, and a marker. That’s it, and you’ll make some small people in your life very happy. (We can’t promise, however, that your pets will enjoy it.)
Balloon Stamping Solar System
This is “stamping” not “stomping” to which your ears will be grateful, and the kids might ask if they can do at the end, “pretty please,” because stomping is so much fun. But this balloon stamping solar system activity is enjoyable too, just not quite so loud (in theory). A perfect STEAM activity, bringing art and science together.
Become a Home Astronaut
The ISS National Laboratory put together a fantastic program that children can do at home. It uses activities that the astronauts do on the space station and reworks them for life on Earth. Their featured activities include:
- “A Beautiful Planet” Educator Resource Guide
- Space Station Explorers STEM Guide targeting grades 3-8
- ExoLab Biological Design Challenge
- Genes in Space
- Mission to the ISS
- Sally Ride Earth KAM
- SciGirls in Space
- Storytime in Space
- And more!
Build a Galaxy
NASA STEMWORKS has a Build A Galaxy Activity free for educators and parents to do with children. A helpful map, printouts, downloadable templates are provided. Instructions guide users through the activity and give key tips. A great project for children in middle school and higher.
Build a Telescope
Nothing better demonstrates how telescopes work than by having a child build their own. National Geographic has good step-by-step instructions using lenses from reading glasses. Some people found this version easier to follow, however. Both instructions are the same concept.
If you have a very smart and enthusiastic tween or teen, you might want to look into building a Galilean telescope. This would also make a wonderful high school class project. It could also be a cross-over project, getting help from the students who are in the shop (if your school still offers those courses, of course).
For die-hard enthusiasts, Instructables has a tutorial for making a 12.5 inch Dobsonian telescope. This is neither inexpensive nor easy. That said, it would make an excellent project between parent and teen, providing together time with a shared goal, opening up space for conversation.
Color, Astronomy, and Coding with Pencil Code
NASA has put together a project for middle school and high school kids titled Color, Astronomy, and Coding that uses Chandra X-ray Observatory data. It uses Pencil code, demonstrating how NASA relies on many STEM skills, including computer science, to do their research. This activity gives a wonderful glimpse into the everyday work involved in a science career.
Constellation Flashlight Discs
Project constellations onto your walls and surfaces by making these clever flashlight discs. The project isn’t difficult, although it does require a sharp object to punch the holes. Once finished, the flashlight has not only been given a cool upgrade, but it now presents an easy-to-identify constellation.
In the crowded night sky, it is difficult for children to follow the patterns we call constellations. You can point at them or show them a map and draw on it. But this project does away with the surrounding “clutter,” making the constellation easy to see and comprehend. Soon, they’ll be able to pick it out of the night sky all on their own.
Constellation Geoboards are a great follow-up project to the disks. Now the children take a section of the sky and put the constellations together, like their own sky map. Some end up looking incredibly artistic and make lovely display pieces. A hands-on educational project with a touch of creative flair.
Bell Museum has put out a series Constellation Hunter. This program is aimed more towards older children and adults. It is essentially a guide to help people orientate and familiarize themselves with the sky above. An informative and useful tool for those that have a love and interest in the stars.
Constellation luminary is another gorgeous way to get children excited about the stars. The activity comes with a free printable and instructions. It is easy and creates a beautiful lightbox with selected constellations. The kids will love it.
Cupcake Solar System
What is the result of combining chemistry and astronomy? A delicious education. This activity creates a yummy solar system through baking (chemistry). The recipe and lesson can be found here.
But if you really want to get fancy for Space Week or maybe up the difficulty for teenagers, this fabulous Solar System Cake is available. (Yes, we know, now you want one for your birthday.)
DIY Rocket Corner Bookmarks
This rocket corner bookmark activity is fun and results in a practical item the kids can use. The template is on the site is free to print. A wonderful tie-in project, bringing space and reading together. These would also make a sweet gift to a grandparent.
Erupting Black Holes
Erupting black holes is another chemistry activity that links to space. The project involves making a baking soda batter and freezing it in silicone donut molds. Then, when ready, you take them out, dabble vinegar on top, and then watch as excitement and joy erupt from the children. (And you. You will enjoy this, too.)
Erupting Moon Rocks
Erupting moon rocks is similar to the concept of erupting black holes. The blogger calls the baking soda mixture she uses “moon dough” and allows the kids to play with it before creating the “rocks.” When they are ready to make them erupt, good old vinegar is added, and, once again, children burst with happiness.
Galaxy Bath Bombs
Astronauts and researchers have to keep clean and be careful not to contaminate their specimens accidentally. You can also bring together science and hygiene for your kids with the galaxy bath bomb activity. This colorful, fun, and practical project is also a chemistry lesson. A win for everyone, especially if given to a parent or grandparent as a present.
Galaxy jars combine the love of art with science, making them a beautiful STEAM activity. They are pretty easy to make and only require a few supplies. These colorful galaxies will also make a cute addition to any child’s bedroom. You could also make these as decor for a space-themed party.
Galaxy Play Dough
Little kids love playdough, which makes galaxy play dough a winning activity for space week. There are some smaller pieces involved in this project, such as the star sequins, so use your best judgment. It might be worth considering swapping the sequins for these edible cupcake sprinkles if the children in your care are still sticking things in their mouths.
Grow Your Own Space Seeds
Space travel beyond the reaches of resupply stations will depend on astronauts growing their own food. Also, scientists are learning a plethora of new information by cultivating plants in space station. But gardening in space has its challenges, such as a lack of gravity.
To help keep roots from growing in all directions, scientists plant seeds in “space pillows.” Thus, the space center has provided this excellent activity on space horticultural. This project invites kids to make their own space pillows for their seeds through some simple origami. We love this new twist on seed germination. Enjoy.
Hanging Solar System
Get kids to make a model of our planets with this hanging solar system activity. The finished products will look fantastic hanging up in a classroom or decorating a child’s bedroom. The project is hands-on and creative while producing a useful representation of how the local planets are arranged in our solar system.
How Big is the Solar System?
Space is vast. The distances are beyond our comprehension skills as there is nothing on our planet that begins to compare with the scale of our universe. Even the distances between planets cannot be explained by equating it to ten trips to Granny’s house. These enormous measurements are even difficult for adults to comprehend.
This is what makes the How Big is the Solar System? activity so valuable. This simple but powerful project breaks down the unfathomable into something we can understand, using nothing more than squares of toilet paper and some free printable. Highly recommend.
Is the Sun Rotating? Follow the Sunspots!
One of the first space facts a child learns is that our planet rotates around the sun. We also teach our children that Earth spins, creating night and day. But what about the sun? Does it just spew out light and keep our planets in orbit? Or does it spin too? Challenge tweens and teens to find out with the activity Is the Sun Rotating? Follow the Sunspots!
Junk Model Space Rocket
These junk model space rockets are a fun craft project for younger children. The clever use of earbuds especially endears us. This hands-on activity nails key STEAM skills while challenging children’s hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Once finished, the pieces can be used for imaginative play. A great activity for in the classroom or at home on a rainy day.
Kerbal Space Program
As much as adults fret about children’s screen time, computers can be a wonderful teaching and learning tool. Take the Kerbal Space Program, for example. This fun and interactive rocket simulator program challenges users to build a spacecraft, fly it, and assist the “Kerbals” in completing missions.
With Kerbal, kids learn through trial and error and are encouraged to modify and improve their designs. Hey, that’s just like what we have to do in the real world.
Make a Moon
Bell Museum has a great make a moon craft. Using not much more than card stock, flour, and water, kids can recreate their very own surface of the moon. It’s an easy yet messy space activity that kids will enjoy.
Make Moon Dough
Moon Dough is a nice alternative to play dough that keeps little hands busy and amused. There are many moon dough recipes out there, including the one used in the moon rock activity further up in this post. But we liked this one due to the variety of colors and think the kids will too.
Making Moon Craters
Little Bins for Little Hands has an enjoyable activity to do with moon dough. They suggest making moon craters. Their moon dough is plainer than the one listed above. However, this does make it more realistic looking, which might be relevant when creating craters.
We like how this particular moon crater activity doesn’t just involve punching and poking holes but also uses rocks and marbles to create additional texture.
Map the Stars
Map the stars is another artistic twist of mapping the stars. The best part is the glow-in-the-dark details, which always create delight. The activity is great for younger kids, as it involves some of their favorite stuff: paint and glue.
Marshmallow constellations are a tasty way to bring the stars to Earth. This hands-on activity is simple and engaging while challenging children’s building skills. Brave parents and teachers can add extra spark and flavor to this activity by adding fire from a candle or something more dynamic. Be safe and have fun.
Moon Observation Journal
Everyone enjoys projects that fizz and explode, but a lot of scientific work involves being an observer over long periods. While it is not ideal to bore children and put them off a STEM career, teaching observation skills is valuable. Consider challenging children to keep a moon observation journal, as suggested by Bell Museum.
The activity comes with some suggested questions and points of interest for the kids to consider as they do their observations. This would also be an excellent activity to pair with another, such as making a telescope for their nightly peek at the moon.
NASA Do is an excellent activity page for parents and teachers to use for their kids. From creating a CD Saturn to no-bake moon cookies, there are a plethora of ideas to use for Space Week, science class, or to keep busy on a rainy day.
NASA Kid’s Club
NASA Kid’s Club is aimed at children in grades K-4. Some of the content is from their other space pages, such as Story Time. Some of the material, however, is unique. Some of the content is also available in Spanish in addition to English, which is fantastic. Just as there is on their NASA Do page, they provide activities and free downloadable pages, including coloring worksheets.
Oreo Moon Phases
We love this delicious activity that so perfectly illustrates the stages of the moon. Delight the kids by having them create the phases of the moon with Oreos. Once they are done, snap a photo, then allow the children to snack on their project. (The children, not you. But, on the other hand, you could remind the kids that sharing is caring.)
Outer Space Bingo
Everyone enjoys a good game. This activity takes the classic Bingo and turns it into a space activity. This is an easy game for preschool children. However, older children could find it as a welcome break from the harder grind.
A fun way to up the challenge for older children is to ask a kid who yells, “Bingo,” a bonus space question. Then, if they get it right, give them an additional small prize.
Phases of the Moon
Phases of the moon is a simple activity that demonstrates why there are phases of the moon. It is one thing to understand it in theory, another to actually try the theory out. Using only a flashlight and a ball dangling from a string, kids will create the phases of the moon. A very effective teaching moment.
NASA always needs some of its astronauts to be experienced pilots. Kids can now try out their own flying skills from the safety of their computers, thanks to the National Air and Space Museum’s online Pilot Pals. A fun way to get a taste of flying without stressing about the occasional crash.
Recycled Plastic Egg Alien Craft
Looking for a space-themed craft project your kids will enjoy? Check out this plastic egg Alien activity. Kids will love designing their own alien craft. They are adorable. Besides, it keeps children’s hands busy, minds occupied, and provides a welcome break from the screens.
Shooting Star Favor Pouch
These shooting star favor pouches are the best type of project: the multitasking kind. They make a good space activity for the kids and double as inexpensive party favors. If you stuffed them with something non-edible, they’d also make excellent decorations for a classroom or party venue.
Soda Bottle Space Rocket
Can you have Space Week without a soda bottle space rocket? Possibly, but why would you want to do that? This space activity does more than just make an old bottle go weeeee into the air but requires children to decorate them. Yay, for putting the A into STEAM.
That said, sometimes the real joy is in making your old bottle go weeeee into the air, especially if you are a bigger kid whose parent is an even bigger kid. If so, then this bottle rocket activity might be your type of boom. (Be safe.)
The soda-straw rocket activity is an excellent alternative for people who need to do an indoor activity but really enjoy launching rockets. This isn’t to say you can’t do this one outdoors; you most certainly can. It’s just that this would be less messy and potentially awkward as an inside project than, say, the soda bottle space rocket.
Solar System Slime
Is there slime in space? We can’t offer you a definite answer on that one. Nonetheless, little kids (and let us be honest, bigger kids) love slime. Thus, this solar system slime is a clear winner when it comes to space activities. A sensory project with a bit of chemistry thrown in along with faux-planets and goo (slime).
Space crayons are cool, easy, and very satisfying. They are also a brilliant way to turn crayon-bits into useful objects. Make them with your kids, keep a few, and give the rest away as gifts.
Space Origami: Make Your Own Starshade
Space origami is a brainteaser, art, and potential practicality all folded into one project. A wonderful hands-on tie-in project with learning about Starshades, a game-changing device helping scientists learn more about exoplanets.
Space Sensory Bin
Sensory bins are big in education these days, and Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes came up with one for space. A great way to diversify the educational potential of play and space.
Food makes excellent kid-bribery, so use snack time to boost Space Week with these fantastic space snack ideas. We especially loved the Alien Parfait with its googly-green marshmallow eyes. But if you are yearning for something a bit more accurate and educational, there is a lovely solar system snack plate.
A gorgeous STEAM activity is these space suncatchers from Adventure-in-a-Box.com. Unlike real stain glass, there is no actual glass or soldering involved. Instead, they are created using plastic plates. Nonetheless, the results are eye-catching and will look fabulous in the windows of either schools or homes.
Spot the Space Station
Spot the Space Station is the new eye-spy. This handy NASA website lets you track when and where the ISS will be visible from Earth. Look up your area, mark the date, build a telescope, and then whip up some space snacks and turn it into an event.
The Thousand-Yard (Solar System) Model
The Thousand-Yard Model is a popular tool for giving people perspective on the true scale of our solar system. We mentioned above how this could be done with toilet paper. But this version can be pretty dramatic. Matthew and Kevin Stewart shared their experience here. We were especially impressed with the Sun-holder built by Matthew.
Now you want a Sun-holder too. Of course, you do.
Touchdown Astronauts Challenge
NASA has published a Touchdown Astronauts Challenge aimed at grades 3-8. Kids are challenged to design and build their own shock-absorbing system. The idea is to mimic the equipment NASA has to develop for astronauts to land safely on the moon. In short, the kids are designing and making a lander.
Just like in real life, the designs will have to bring astronauts safely down. The astronauts being represented by marshmallows, however, and not the children’s younger siblings. A brilliant STEM activity with a competitive edge.