One of my astronomonsters’ favorite toys this week is the Magnetic Solar System by Smethport. It folds open like a book. Inside, the Sun is on the top left corner, and orbit lines are drawn so kids can place their planets in the right order. There are magnetic planets (the traditional nine planets), plus a space station, an astronaut, a space shuttle, a supernova, a nebula, a galaxy, a comet, an asteroid, and Earth’s Moon. There are also magnetic words for each item, but we haven’t been playing with those.
The pieces are pretty, and the kids have fun with it. I wish the pieces stuck a little more strongly though, because sometimes they just shake out if you carry it by its handle and jostle it too much. We’ve already lost some of the small pieces–not surprising, because, yeah, young kids. It’s been very entertaining for my planet-loving children, but I have concerns about its hardiness. I’ve already had to reinforce Saturn’s rings with tape.
I may try making replacement magnets sometime, and if you’re a crafty person, you could make your own magnetic board and pieces. Here is a video from Martha Stewart for making your own Magnetic Bulletin Board. She uses a snap-in-place frame, galvanized steel sheeting, and Masonite board. If your goal was to make a solar system background, you could cover the metal with a starry fabric. I’ve also seen other instructions on Pinterest, such as using an old cookie sheet for your metal board.