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LM: Galaxy Playdough

Little Makers: Galaxy Playdough

(September 2013)

Place: Fayetteville Free Library
Topics: Stars, Galaxies, Outer space

Dates: Saturday, 9/14 from 10:30-11:30am; Tuesday, 9/17 from 5:30-6:30pm

Educational Content: We learned:

  • Stars are hot glowing balls of gas.

  • The sun is the closest star to Earth.

  • A galaxy is a system of millions or billions of stars, together with gas and dust, held together by gravitational attraction.

  • There are three types of galaxies: spiral, elliptical, and irregular.

  • We live in the Milky Way Galaxy made up of 200-400 billion stars.

Books & Resources:

  • Story: How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers (or Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space by Dr. Dominic Walliman)

  • Common Core: Stars by Robin Birch (or The Milky Way and other Galaxies by Dana Meachen Rau)

  • Computer Software: Celestia


  • electric tea kettle

  • mixing bowl

  • cookie sheet (for cooling playdough)

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1/2 cup salt

  • 2 tbs cream of tartar

  • 1 tbs cooking oil

  • blue & black food coloring (as desired)

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • silver, purple, or blue glitter

  • computer

  • free download: Celestia


  • We started started out by reading How to Catch a Star, a story about a boy who is eager to have a star of his own, so he devises imaginative ways of catching one.

  • Then we made the playdough. I adapted the instructions from this website tutorial to create a no-bake playdough recipe that we could make together, in the library.

  • We read the second book, Stars, as we were waiting for the playdough to cool. Stars provides an introduction to stars and constellations of the Milky Way, as well as galaxies, star clusters, and other phenomena.

  • We where then able to explore the science concepts we had learned, using Celestia, a free educational computer program used by NASA to teach kids about space.

  • By this time, the playdough had cooled enough to touch without getting sticky fingers. Finally, we rolled our homemade playdough in glitter, to add the "stars" to our "galaxy"!

Children got to play with their playdough and take it home with them in a plastic baggie. (Note: the playdough will dry out if you don't store it in a sealed container. The recipe makes enough playdough for about four children.)

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Stephanie C. Prato

is the Director of Play to Learn Services at the Fayetteville Free Library in New York. 

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