Activity Introduction

Quick summary: This is a STEAM lesson, which adds the Arts to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). To find out more about STEAM and STEM click here. In this lesson students will explore the planets in our solar system, noting differences in appearance and characteristics. They will then make use of watercolour pencils to create their own artistic representation of one of the planets.

This lesson has been created in partnership with education specialists, OfficeMax and Winc.


Learning intentions:

  • Students know all of the planets in the solar system.
  • Students use a range of mediums in their art work.

21st century skills: 


Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 and 6 Visual Art

  • Develop and apply techniques and processes when making their artworks (ACAVAM115)
  • Plan the display of artworks to enhance their meaning for an audience (ACAVAM116)

Year 5 Science

  • The Earth is part of a system of planets orbiting around a star (the sun) (ACSSU078)

Year 6 Science

  • Sudden geological changes and extreme weather events can affect Earth’s surface (ACSSU096)

Syllabus outcomes: VAS3.1, VAS3.2, ST3-8ES, ST3-9ES.

General capabilities: Literacy, Numeracy, Critical and Creative Thinking.

Relevant parts of Year 5 and 6 Visual Arts Achievement Standards: By the end of Year 6, students explain how ideas are communicated in artworks they make and to which they respond. They describe characteristics of artworks from different social, historical and cultural contexts that influence their art making.

Students structure elements and processes of arts subjects to make artworks that communicate meaning. They work collaboratively to share artworks for audiences, demonstrating skills and techniques.

Relevant Parts of Year 5 and 6 Science Achievement Standards: Students describe the key features of our solar system.

Relevant Parts of Year 5 and 6 Science Achievement Standards: Students explain how natural events cause rapid change to Earth’s surface.

Topic: Art & Craft.

Unit of work: Learning Through Art & Craft – Primary.

Time required: 85-100 mins (lesson includes an optional extension that requires 15 minutes).

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – students less confident with drawing tasks may require support to determine what colours and shapes to draw to form the overall appearance desired for their planet.

Resources required: Device capable of displaying video. Digital devices for students to research information about chosen planets and print a picture of their planet to model off of. Watercolour Planet Step-By-Step (one copy per two students). Sheets of plain white paper. Watercolour pencils, fine paint brushes and water for each student. Planet Outline printed on white card (optional) or white card and a compass for each student. Student Worksheet (one copy per student). 

Related Professional Development: STEAM Made Simple

Keywords: Solar system, planets, space, sun, star, organic shapes, line, colour, science, art, watercolour, painting, craft.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions:

  • Students know all of the planets in the solar system.
  • Students use a range of mediums in their art work.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... name the planets in the solar system.
  • ... explain features of selected planets in the solar system.
  • ... identify the importance of the sun in the solar system.
  • ... use organic shapes, lines and/or tone to create an artistic impression of a planet.

Teacher content information:

Art and Mathematics

Art and mathematics are often viewed as very separate disciplines, with art being more of a creative pursuit and mathematics focusing on logic and reasoning. These two areas, however, have many shared concepts. Pattern is a concept relevant to both mathematics and art, just as shape, line and scale all are.

Architecture and graphic design are areas that reflect the connection between art and mathematics, as measurement, shape, pattern and proportion become equally as important as the aest

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: What does the following sentence have to do with our Solar System? 'My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Noodles!'

Plant Research Task

Select a planet in our solar system (or the Sun) and research the following questions:

The name of the planet 

The size of the planet

A description of the planet (in your own words)


Artist’s Statement:


Planet(s) depicted in the artwork:

Description of the planet(s):

Explanation of the methods used to create the work of art:

Artist reflection:

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