Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oatmeal Container Planetarium

Throwing unique-shaped containers in the recycling bin is hard for me. (I’m always wondering how they can be recycled into kid’s crafts.) Cylindrical oatmeal containers fall into this category.

When I was light on inspiration, I Googled and found this amazing craft on – a bedroom planetarium! I adapted the instructions slightly; see below.

When my son came home from school and saw the supplies on the table, he was excited. Over and over, he kept asking what we were going to use the flashlight for. (What’s with kids and flashlights?!?! They love ’em!) Here’s the supply list:
  • Colored construction paper, paint, crayons and any other art supplies to decorate the oatmeal container
  • Double-sided tape or glue
  • Exacto craft knife
  • Black construction paper
  • White crayon or white colored pencil
  • Empty oatmeal (cylinder) container with its lid
  • Flashlight
  • Pushpin

Before we got started, I explained to my son that we were going to make a projector to shine the constellations on the wall. The last time we learned about stars was ages ago, but his enthusiasm for all things space hasn’t diminished a bit. He was psyched!

What the Adult Does
Cut a large circle in the middle of the plastic oatmeal container lid with the Exacto craft knife. Next, have your child hold the flashlight in the center of the cardboard bottom of the oatmeal container. Trace around it. Use the craft knife again to cut slightly smaller than the circle you’ve drawn; you want the flashlight to fit snugly.

What the Kid Does
Give your child construction paper to decorate in a space scene. First, my son drew planets and stars with colored pencils. Then I had him add a nebula and galaxy with paint. To do this, we added drops of paint to a plastic disposable dessert plate and placed another clean plate over the top, spinning it to swirl the paint together. Then we removed the top plate and pressed the paper into the paint on the bottom plate. Voila! We also used a pencil eraser dotted with glow-in-the-dark paint to make stars. Let dry.

Next, cut circles out of black construction paper to fit snuggly inside the oatmeal container lid. Now use a book of constellations to draw constellations on the black circles. Carefully use a pushpin to make holes wherever there is a star. Write the constellation’s name on the disc.

Now use glue or double-sided tape or glue to adhere your child’s space art to the outside of the oatmeal container. And if you haven't already, insert the flashlight into the hole and place one of the constellation discs inside the lid. Put the lid on the container.

Head into a dark room and flip on the flashlight. Ooh and Ahh! (My son sure did!)


  1. What a great idea! I love this! I pinned into my Pinterest Board this morning.

  2. That is awesome and I am definitely adding that to our astronomy plans (when we hit constellations at the end of the year)!

  3. Neat idea! Anything that has to do with flashlights is a win-win in our house! :)

  4. What a great idea! We're doing Astronomy all next year for science. I think this would be fun/easy for Annabelle to do. Thank you for sharing!

  5. This is AWESOME! My boys are really interested in stars and space and they LOVE things that light up in the dark so this would be a huge hit with thme. Can't wait to try this!

  6. Brilliant! What fun.
    Thanks for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  7. JDaniel would love this! We will need to make one.

  8. Awesome project - love the way you swirled the paint colors together! Definitely a kid doable project. I’d love it if you would consider linking with Busy Monday (open Monday through Thursdays) at A Pinch of Joy, a linky party for ideas that make life better, easier and more fun!

  9. This is SO cool. I wish I had thought of this when I nannied. Little A is too little now but I'll be saving this post for when we do homeschool.

  10. What a very fun idea. I found your blog on 4LoveofCupcakes blog hop. Feel free to stop by my blog and say hi

  11. What a great idea! We keep using our empty oatmeal containers at drums, but I love this one. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!! I hope you have a great week.

  12. That is so cool! I am definitely going to give this a go, my son would love it!

  13. What a great post on Oatmeal Container Planetarium this sort of original content is what i was searching. Thanks for sharing.

  14. wow! love it, always looking for fun recycling projects and yes kids love flashlights! will so this one with my nature class! thanks for sharing

  15. Hi there! I'm an independent art teacher in NYC, and I did this with a really young boy--just two! HE LOVED IT. We sat in the bathroom and played with it for going on 1.5 hours.

    Thank you!