Space is a beautiful and mysterious place. Unfortunately, all of the intricacies of space can’t be seen from here on earth with the eye alone. One way to explore space is by using a telescope. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out our guide to the best telescopes for beginners.
Another way to explore space is through model solar systems, which put our solar system right in front of your eyes. For most people, the top overall pick would probably be the Solar System Planetarium because of how much comes with this kit and how easy it makes learning. But there’s a hidden gem that’s not nearly as popular yet is incredibly rewarding to put together. That’s why we chose it as our number 1 pick — scroll right below to see what and why!
|ROKR 3D Wooden Solar System Kit
|Ravensburger 540-pc 3D Solar System Puzzle
|Smoothfoam Solar System Kit
Best Solar System Model
1. Best Overall – ROKR 3D Wooden Solar System Kit
ROKR 3D Wooden Solar System Kit
A 3D orrery that combines art and science and makes a perfect addition to your puzzle collection.
This is a modern version of the traditional orrery — a mechanical model of the planetary system that dates back to 1713. If you are bored with traditional jigsaw puzzles, you will find this 3D puzzle a more challenging option.
What sets the puzzle apart, is how it combines an eye-catching design with a music box. Being a mechanical device, it needs no power supply. The movement of the planets is made possible by the wind-up mechanism. The clockwork mechanism is run through multiple gears with a small globe at the center that represents the sun.
It has more than 80 pieces that combine to create an antique design. Additionally, completing this puzzle with your kids can give them an idea about the mechanism of gear power transmission. The music plays as the solar system rotates. It takes 3-6 hours to assemble it, but the fun doesn’t stop there. It feels quite comforting to wind it up and watch the planets revolve!
ROKR has been one of the most popular options in the wooden puzzles market. Each wooden piece is laser cut to ensure top-notch fit and finish. Overall, the exquisite design makes this an ideal interior decor piece.
I just wish there was an option to not play the music as the system orbits. To me, the touch of a music box is an unnecessary addition. But the fact is, kids tend to like it!
On a more technical side, the fragments and pieces feel a bit thin and fragile. Good enough for smaller hands of a child, but a bit risky for sausage fingers of a grown-up!
2. Best for Puzzle Lovers – Ravensburger 540-pc Solar System 3D Jigsaw Puzzle Set
Ravensburger Solar System 3D Jigsaw Puzzle Set
An attractive 3D puzzle you’ll want to claim for yourself.
This 3D Jigsaw Puzzle is made for kids ages 7 and up, but can (and will, believe you me!) even be enjoyed by adults.
Each of the 540 pieces has numbers on the inside that make it easy to assemble.
The quality of the puzzle is top-notch and the interlocking plastic pieces are thick and rigid. The pieces slot together to create a rigid spherical structure for the planets that do not fall apart. The set also includes sturdy planet stands, and a hanging cord that allows you to set them up.
Once assembled, the entire set looks great, thanks to the details in the components. The size is perfect- not too large to occupy too much space and not too small either. Overall, a fun gift for kids, as well as adults.
Once you’re done with the puzzle, you can either place the planets on their stands or hang them by the cord that comes included in the package.
3. Best Budget Option – Smoothfoam Solar System Kit
Smoothfoam Solar System Kit
Fun DIY solar system kit that is budget friendly and entertaining.
This Styrofoam Solar System Kit fits the bill if you don’t want to spend much yet want a rewarding and easy DIY project. The planet spheres are smooth and less porous than typical styrofoam, making it an easier material to decorate. It can be decorated with paint or permanent marker. This solar system toy is particularly awesome because it allows your kids to get creative with their solar system or keep it more realistic.
This kit also comes with a styrofoam stand for the model, as well as rods and rings to stand or hang the planets. The varying sizes of spheres will help teach your kids about the sizes of the planets, and you can work with them as they learn about the planet sizes relative to each other and their positioning in the solar system.
4. Best for Younger Children – Learning Resources Giant Inflatable Solar System
Giant Inflatable Solar System
A cute inflatable solar system that is great for younger kids and even classrooms.
The Inflatable Solar System comes with everything you need to make a solar system for kids. It comes with all 8 planets, plus Pluto, the sun, Earth’s moon, a repair kit, foot pump, and even an activity guide. The celestial bodies all come with a hook to hang.
The plants, sun, and moon are all proportionally sized so that your child can learn more about their relative sizing and positioning in the solar system. The durable vinyl makes this solar system high quality and ready to last, even in the classroom. This solar system model is recommended for children ages 5+.
By being able to physically interact with and even play games with this solar system toy, your kids will be excited to learn more about the universe. You can simulate orbit with these bodies, and even create a unique decoration hanging from your child’s bedroom ceiling.
5. Best for Wall Modeling – Glow in The Dark Stars and Planets Wall Stickers
Glow in The Dark Stars and Planets Wall Stickers
An exciting way to learn about science and to create a planet and star-themed room for your kid.
These Solar System Wall Stickers are a unique way for your children to learn about the solar system from their own bedroom. This set contains 9 pieces that are made from high-quality vinyl and can be stuck on the ceiling.
And the best part is, these stickers glow in the dark and the effect will surely create a sense of awe in your kids. Simply charge the stickers for a few minutes under sunlight or artificial light before sticking, and they are ready to glow in the dark for more than an hour.
Admittedly, the beautiful images and the bright colors make them look spectacular in the dark.
Thanks to the high-quality adhesive, these stickers stick well and do not fall off. Also, they can be peeled off and restuck repeatedly and don’t leave any sticky residue on the ceiling. You can even stick them on wooden surfaces.
Compared to other stickers, these are more pricey. But considering the premium quality and durability, they are well worth the few extra bucks.
6. Best Glow in the Dark Option – 4M Solar System Planetarium
4M Solar System Planetarium
One of the easier solar system toys with spectacular glow in the dark features.
The Glowing 3-D Solar System brings the solar system and planets to life right in your kid’s bedrooms, even when the lights go out for the night. As your kid constructs their own solar system, they will get the chance to understand our solar system on a deeper level. Once finished, it can even be used as decorative artwork in their room or in your home.
The package includes stencils, a squeeze glow paint pen, and rods that make it a DIY kit and even more fun for kids. Assembly instructions are included and the entire process takes a few hours.
Since it includes rotating arms and a stand, the entire assembly looks like a mini planetarium. Once the assembly is done, the kids can observe the planets move in their respective orbits. While the plastic material is not of the best quality, considering the price point, it is hard to find a con with this kit.
One of the best parts of this kit is that it can be mixed and matched with other 4M Solar System kits like the Solar System Mobile Making Kit we’ll talk about below or the Earth & Moon Model Kit. The Earth & Moon Model Kit is great to teach kids more about how the moon orbits the earth and is recommended for kids ages 3 and up. 4M has many other solar system toys available for purchase as well.
7. Best STEM Building Kit – Learning Resources Gears Space Explorers Building Set
Gears Space Explorers Building Set
STEM building set to learn about space and engineering.
By using the Space Explorers Building Set, your children will get to work on their critical thinking, engineering, and problem solving skills. This kit is particularly great because children can begin thinking about the physics of solar system mechanics.
This kit comes as 77 pieces, including bases, gears, connectors, astronauts, planets, a sun, spaceship, flag, stickers and an activity guide. It is recommended for children ages 4 and up. While this is not a traditional model solar system, the gears will teach kids about cause and effect and encourage open ended play.
Despite the many pieces, however, don’t expect it to be intricate enough to have a permanent appeal to kids aged 10 years and up. The package says it’s for kids 4+. In my opinion, however, the ideal bracket would be 7-9 as those kids can fathom the abstract concept of the solar system. Any younger than that, and the notion of “and yet it moves” will be lost on them. Older than that, they’ll find it too “kid-like” in looks.
8. Best Projector – One Fire Solar System Projector Night Light
One Fire Solar System Projector Night Light
An ambiance projector that brings kids out of this world to discover the marvels of the universe.
This Night Light Projector turns the idea of sleeping under the stars into a reality with 45 different lighting modes. And apart from the solar system, you use other projection themes as well. Should be enough to keep them entertained and calm!
The unit comes with 3 LED bulbs and 5 projecting films. The projector can be rotated by 360 degrees which makes the projection even better. The system supports dual modes of power supply. You can either use 3xAA batteries or plug it in by using the supplied USB cable. USB connectivity is a great feature as you need not worry about battery life.
The image quality is bright and realistic. Also, there are three brightness settings that you can adjust. There is no remote, but it is super easy to use. And unlike many other projectors it is completely noise-free.
Truth be told, you can’t really expect a super realistic view of the night sky. For something like that, you’d have to shell out a bigger amount of money. But even as it is, this affordable device is more than enough to give you a chance to at least begin to talk about the universe and the solar system. In other words, the educational value of this lamp is limited, and that’s the only downside.
9. Best Electronic Model – ScienceGeek Kinetic Art Asteroid Desk Toy
ScienceGeek Kinetic Art Asteroid Desk Toy
A great looking solar system model that both kids and adults will love watching.
If you want to decorate your interiors with a solar system model without it looking like a period piece, then this desk toy from ScienceGeek Kinetic is a great option. In fact, watching the smooth and uniform movement of the planets will also have a stress-relieving effect on your mind.
The model is easy to assemble and is powered by a 9V battery. Once you set it in motion by a push, the planets stay in perpetual motion. The contemporary design makes it a perfect addition to any modern interior or office desk.
While the nine balls moving around the centerpiece do not look like the planets, they have a fascinating appearance. One thing is, an on-off switch could have been a practical addition to conserve battery. The overall quality is good, and the structure is not flimsy in any way.
Whether you want a buy a cool gift or need a piece of decor for a science-themed office, this solar system model is worth checking out.
10. Best for Future Seekers – Solar System Crystal Ball with Light Up Cosmic Model
Solar System Crystal Ball
A light up and transparent crystal ball that will have your kids looking towards the future.
The Solar System Crystal Ball makes for an exciting and cool model planet kit. This particular crystal ball lights up and is laser engraved with the planets and their names. The engraving itself is done with 3D laser cutting technology and the plants and names are clear and high quality so there will be no second-guessing which planet is which.
There are 6 light-up orbital modes that allow the ball to give off a variety of colors while your children view the solar system right in front of them. The crystal ball comes with a standard plug and USB cable. It can also be battery operated and is turned on and off with a simple touch switch.
The planets are sized proportionately to their real sizes and locations in outer space. This model can act as not only a super cool educational toy and model but even as a nightlight for the younger kids.
11. Best for Hanging Mobiles – 4M Solar System Mobile Making Kit
Solar System Mobile Making Kit
A fun and cute glow in the dark mobile of the solar system.
This Solar System Mobile Making Kit allows children to create their very own mobile of the solar system. Your kids will snap together the planets and paint them with regular and glow paints. This kit comes with everything needed, including a paint brush, string, and a frame for hanging.
This kit is recommended for ages 8 and up because of the small pieces and dexterity required to paint and decorate the planets and sun. Because of the painting, kids will get a chance to explore their creativity and enjoy their creation during the day and at night once the lights have been turned out. Children will learn in a hands-on way and be able to hang their creation as a mobile from their ceiling in their room or workspace.
12. Best Magnetic Option – MAGDUM Solar System for Kids
MAGDUM Solar System for Kids
Designed for younger hands, these sturdy magnetic stickers will keep kids engaged for hours.
This assortment of magnets is a wonderful addition to any classroom or home. They can be used to decorate a refrigerator or any magnetic surfaces, but also can be used to enhance learning. With the relative sizes of the planets kept in mind, kids can sort parts of the solar system based on different criteria while going through the activity guide.
You will find 22 pieces in the box that not only include the planets but also have images about space. Each piece is made from two layers of durable cardboard and a high-quality magnet. Additionally, there is a protective layer of lamination on the top.
The images are high quality and the bright colors make them super attractive for kids. The strong magnet ensures that these pieces will not fall off even after months of continuous attachment and removal.
Other, more famous toy brands have made such sets of magnets. But when you compare the scope of activities and number of pieces, this set gives a nice value.
What to Consider When Buying a Solar System Model
Different models will be better for different age ranges. The models with smaller pieces or that require more advanced motor skills will of course be better for older kids; meanwhile, those that are larger or less complex suit younger children better.
The different models will also have different amounts of engagement for your kids, pending on their age. It is important to check the age range that the product is designed for when picking out which solar system model and STEM toys are best suited for your kid.
Value, of course, can mean many different things. Maybe you’re looking for a product that keeps your kids busy for more than just a couple of hours or in the afternoon. Or perhaps you’re looking for the product that comes with the most pieces. Some kits require assembly and painting, while others just require sticking the products to the wall.
It all depends on what you are wanting to get out of the solar system toys and models to decide if it is a good value or not. The best solar system toys will meet your criteria for educational, time, and creative values.
Purpose of the Model
Solar system models tend to lean towards being more educational toys rather than play toys. However, that doesn’t mean that your kids can’t still have fun with it. That being said, it is important to think about the purpose of the model itself and determine if its purpose matches what you want to get out of the product. The best solar system toys may fill multiple purposes, such as an art craft while also being an educational toy. However, others can double as something like a nightlight and a projector.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are educational solar system toys?
Educational toys are toys that assist a child in learning something through playing and interacting with the toy. In this case, we are focusing on educational solar system toys so that your kids can learn all about the solar system in a hands-on manner. The best part about these kinds of toys is that your kids will learn more than just facts about the solar system and will be able to understand why the solar system acts as it does with orbits and relative sizes of planets and their locations in the solar system.
What is an orrery?
An orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system. It is used to represent the relative distances of the planets from the sun and their relative motions. They can also be models of a singular unit such as the earth or sun. It is also possible for it to model the positions of moons and their motions as well. An orrery will help your kids understand concepts such as distance, orbits, and even relative sizing of the planets compared to each other and the sun.
Are solar system models good for teaching and homeschooling?
Solar system toys and models alike aid your kids in learning about the universe around them. Small models and mobiles work well for group projects and kids working together, while other models such as the wall stickers may be better for individual exploration and learning. By getting your kid a solar system model, you’re letting them explore a part of the universe that we can’t always see with just our eye alone.
Not only that, but by having solar system toys around and nearby, it is easy for children to get captivated by space. If they see the solar system in front of them every day, they will likely become more curious and interested in the topic. It will help to have an educational and solar system toy already on hand to feed this interest and keep your children entertained and engaged in learning.
What else can I use to supplement a solar system model?
Solar system models are great in that your kid gets a chance to learn about the planets right in front of them in their hands. However, nothing beats the real thing. Getting a telescope for your kids is a great way to keep them more interested in space and let them see the real deal. You can check out our guide for beginner telescopes for more information and suggestions.
Why should I encourage my kids to learn astronomy?
Astronomy is less experiential based than many of the other sciences, but it is also the foundation of a lot of our knowledge about the world around us and much of the reason why we are where we are today as a society. From learning to navigate from the stars to expanding creativity through and self-discovery, astronomy has it all.
Astronomy can also be one of the harder sciences to grasp because people can’t hold celestial bodies in their hands, and sometimes can’t even see these giants from the earth. However, with solar system toys and models, this science suddenly becomes much more accessible right in your very own home or classroom.
Last update on 2024-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API