Teaching the Solar System in your Upper Elementary Class

Teaching the Solar System in Your Elementary Class

Use this Solar System Lapbook while you’re teaching the Solar System in your upper elementary class.

What is too big to teach, too interesting not to teach, and leads to questions from students that are out of this world? 

The Solar System!!!

I love teaching about the solar system because there are so many different pieces to cover, and they are all so interesting. Outer space is one of those topics where you could just go on and on, truly falling into a black hole of information if you’re not careful. 

Over the years, I had to get really clear about how much of the solar system I was going to cover. I don’t have time to do it all, so what are the most important parts? 

The sun? The moon? The planets?

Over time, after aligning all my ideas with the standards and goals for my students, I fine-tuned exactly what I wanted my students to know, and my Solar System Lapbook was born.

Teaching the Solar System in Your Upper Elementary Class: The Solar System Lapbook

The Solar System Lapbook includes a series of reading passages and visual notes to help students organize all the information that is taught throughout the unit. The notes are not just visual, they are interactive which also makes them memorable.

Where to start?

It usually takes my students about 2-3 weeks to fully construct their lapbook, because I only focus on one single part of the lapbook during each lesson.

Many teachers will try to make this into a craft project and expect their students to construct the lapbook in one day, but it is not a craft project! The Solar System Lapbook is a note-taking tool and organization system. If you give all the pieces to the students at once, they will get frustrated and will not have the chance to really learn the content. I introduce one topic each day, using the provided informational passages. At that time, students will cut and paste just one part of the lapbook. They construct each new section of the lapbook and interact with the pieces to review the new content. 

The next day we move on to another concept. 

Remember: A lapbook like this one is built one piece at a time!

One fun feature of this lapbook is on the cover. For some added excitement, you might choose to have your students cut and paste their own photos on the face of the astronaut suit.

Solar System Lapbook

Solar System Reading Passages

There are 10 solar system reading passages that you can use in conjunction with your solar system lessons. Each passage is about one page long and focuses on the planets, the moon, and the sun. Each of these is also represented in the lapbook, so plan to read the passage on the same day students construct that part of the lapbook.

Solar System Topics

As I considered what was most important for students, I decided to approach this unit one planet at a time, so the major components are the planets, the sun, and the moon. However, I wanted to dive a little deeper into each of the planets as well, so the lapbook has several spaces where students can take notes on each of these parts of the solar system.

Then, for some of the bigger concepts, we dive a little deeper. For example, rather than just talking about the moon, the lapbook includes an interactive phases of the moon dial, where students can spin the disc to reveal each phase of the moon. 

Another fun component of this particular lapbook is the pneumonic device flaps that help students study and remember the order of the planets.

Each planet is thoroughly covered in the lapbook resource. By reading the passages about each planet, students will learn about what the planets are made of, how big they are, any special qualities they have, and where they are in relation to both Earth and the sun. Students can document each of these details and more on the back of each planet flap in the lapbook.

Teaching the Solar System in your Upper Elementary Class Lapbook Image


When you start teaching the solar system in your upper elementary class, you’ll have to decide what specific terms you want to focus on. In the Solar System Lapbook, the following words are used as vocabulary terms. This solar system terminology is important for upper elementary students to know.

  • Solar System
  • Planet
  • Star
  • Axis
  • Rotation
  • Revolution
  • Orbit
  • Phase
  • Asteroid
  • Constellation
  • Lunar Eclipse
  • Telescope

For each word on the list above, the Solar System Lapbook contains a flashcard, plus a pocket to store the cards! A list of definitions is also included.

Teaching the Solar System in Your Upper Elementary Class

The Launchpad

What I love most about the Solar System Lapbook is that it is essentially the launchpad for teaching the solar system in your upper elementary class. Just as a spaceship leaves the launch pad and will one day return to the ground after exploring outer space, our study of the solar system will begin and end at the lapbook. You may choose to add on special activities or projects that have a particular interest to your students, but this lapbook has all of the main topics covered for you.

If you like the lapbook concept and want to learn about how to use lapbooks better for whole class instruction, check out this blog post!

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