Preparing for the Space Workshop

1. Please assign the children to mixed ability groups of four children. There is a form below if you want to use it. The children will work in these groups on various activities during the day, and there will be prizes for some of the activities. Also, within each group of four children should be put into mixed ability pairs. This is so they can help each other to make the globes.

2. Arrange the tables into blocks (probably squares), one for each team. This is necessary so they can share the A1-size mat for the globe activity.

3. The tables should be cleared completely before I arrive, as I will need to set out some materials for the morning activities before we start. Please cover the tables before I arrive, ideally with flat, clean plastic sheets, as we will be using permanent markers in the morning and acrylic paint in the afternoon.

4. Please clear a large space on the side of the classroom (or have a space ready outsode the classroom) for the models we will make. There will be a globe for each child (the base is 12cm) and also lots of planets, some of which are large (Jupiter is 46cm, Saturn with its rings is 86cm, and there are two 38cm planets as well as many smaller ones.)

5. Please try to make the room as dark as possible by covering the windows. We will be learning about days and nights, years,  seasons, and phases of the moon by using models for the Earth and Moon, and lanterns and torches for the Sun. The darker the room is, the better this will work, and so the more effort you can make to use blinds or stick lightproof paper/sheets etc. to the windows, the better the experience will be for the children. Alternatively you could arrange to switch with another classroom in which it is easier to make the room dark.

6. I will need your interactive whiteboard and computer for my photos so please have them up and running.

7. Please have the following resources ready to put out (you can put out the items in the first column in advance, but please put them to one side of the table so I can put the A1-size mats on the tables when I arrive):

1 pair scissors per child
1 Pritt stick per 2 children
1 calculator per 2 children
1 whiteboard and pen per team (8 max)
1 sharp pencil per child
Covers for the tables (please put these on the tables before I arrive)
12 paint palettes (with space for 6 or more colours)
Paper towels (lots)
Painting overalls/shirts (for each child)
12 pots for water (please use sturdy pots which will not be easily knocked over)

8. The globe making activity is challenging (especially bending the wires) so it would be extremely helpful to have extra adults in to assist. Ideally we would have 1 adult per team. If you are short of staff you might ask parents to come in I am sure they will find it interesting!

9. In the afternoon we will be making the Solar System models by painting balls of different sizes. Please assign children to this activity using the form below. The tasks are differentiated by ability (making the rings of Saturn is the most challenging task). If you could fill out this form before I arrive (or at the very latest before lunch break on the day) that would be very helpful.

10. The painting can be challenging so if you can get adult assistants for the afternoon session as well as the morning that would be very helpful.

11. For four of the models we use beach balls. It would be very helpful if an adult could inflate these for us some time in the morning (before lunch break). I will provide a pump which makes this quite easy.

12. The acrylic paint takes a while to dry on these plastic beach balls, so over lunch I will need some children to paint the background colours on these planets. This means that when children paint the details in the afternoon, the paint will be dry. It should not take too long. I will also need some children over lunch to help set out the materials for the afternoon artwork.

13. At the end of the day, for the last 20-30 minutes, we will go into your hall to look at all the models together. There are two scale models: we will look at the smaller one first (Jupiter is 46cm and Saturn 86cm with its rings). We will look at the larger scale model second. At this scale Earth and Venus are 38cm beach balls. It is not possible for children to make the gas giants at this scale as they would be too large. Instead I will bring 2D cloth models I have made of Jupiter (4m), Saturn (8m), Uranus and Neptune (both 1.5m). Because of the large size we will need the large space of a hall to look at the whole model together.

We therefore need the use of the school hall for the last half hour of the day, so please make sure it is booked.

We will discuss what we can learn from the models in the hall and do some more quizzes/games.

14. To help children get the most from the day, it is important that they understand a few science/maths concepts, so you may wish to cover some of these in advance:

- big numbers (thousands, millions, billions)

- multiplication and division of big numbers (they will use a calculator to do this)

- scale and scale models

- units of distance (centimetres, metres, kilometres)

- units of time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years)

- temperature (in degrees Celsius)

- states of matter (gas, solid, liquid)

- the basic geography of the Earth (equator, poles, continents, where the UK is)

- materials like rock, metal (especially iron), water, and ice

- angles in degrees, and how to use a protractor

- shapes - especially circles and spheres


Space workshop groups

































Assignment to Model Making

Model, by difficulty
(size in brackets)

Number of



Venus large and small
(38cm and 4cm)


Uranus (15cm)


Neptune (15cm)


Titan large and small
(15cm and 1.5cm)




Saturn (planet) (38cm)


Pluto large and small (7cm and 1cm)


Ganymede large and small (15cm and 1.5cm)


Callisto large and small (15cm and 1.5cm)


Europa large and small (9cm and 1cm) 


Triton large and small (8cm and 1cm)


Helper with the above 4 moons (if any children are left over)


More difficult


Mercury large and small


Mars large and small


The Moon large and small (10cm and 1cm)


Jupiter (46cm)


Io large and small (10cm and 1cm)




Earth (38cm)


Saturn's rings (86cm)


Signs and labels - if any children are left over


If any children finish their painting they can help with other planets.