Solar Powered Crafts and Activities for Kids and Teens

Supplying energy for the future, solar power has been increasingly installed over the last decade. And since children learn best when they’re having fun and being creative, here are some fun ways to show them the spectacular power of solar energy.

Sun Flower Garden

Photo: Christina Sprout

Photo: Christina Sprout


Why not grow sunflowers with children? Sunflowers are gorgeous, they draw pollinators, they look gorgeous, they make food for birds, and they are edible. You just need a few sunflower seeds, a patch of dirt and plenty of water and sunshine to grow a large sunflower garden.

Growing a sunflower garden is fairly simple. You need good, loose soil and access to water. They like a lot of sun, so make sure your space has 8 hours of direct sunlight per day

  1. Poke a hole in your soil up to your first knuckle. Place a sunflower seed in the hole and cover it.

  2. Pat it down no harder than you would rub your eye. Water well and keep moist until it sprouts. Sunflowers are drought tolerant once they are established and they tolerate extreme heat very well.

  3. Plant your seeds in the sunflower garden at least 6 inches apart.

It is recommended to plant most flowers including sunflowers between April and the beginning of May.

Lesson: Like solar power that requires the sun to shine to produce electricity, sunflowers require about 8 hours of sunlight. Solar power generation is calculated by a variety of measures, but one in particular is peak sun hours available in the area it will be installed. Before planting your sunflowers, you can calculate the amount of peak sun hours you have in your area using the chart below:


Photo: Wholesale Solar

Photo: Wholesale Solar


Sun Colors

Photo: Tara Donne

Photo: Tara Donne


Give new life to the worn-out crayons. Remove the paper from about 20 crayons and seal them in a gallon-sized, zip-top plastic bag. Break them with a hammer. Place 2-to 3-inch cookie cutters on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Your child can fill the cutters with a 1⁄2-inch layer of crayon pieces, then place the sheet in direct sunlight until the pieces are melted (three to six hours).

Let the cutters cool for one hour or until they are solid, then gently pop shapes out of the cutters.

Lesson: Similar to how the the crayons captured the heat from the sun while they were placed in the cutter, solar photovoltaic (PV) cell turns sunlight into usable electricity in three general steps:

  1. Light is absorbed and knocks electrons loose in a PV Cell

  2. Loose electrons flow, and they create a current

  3. The current is captured and transferred to wires

Solar Balloon

Photo via E is for Explore

Photo via E is for Explore


Is there a kid on this earth who’s wouldn’t be wild about a water balloon fight? For the ultimate outdoor activity and science lesson in one, fill two plastic soda bottles with water — one painted black, the other white — and attach a balloon to each one’s neck. Watch as the sun heats the water, which slowly fills the black balloon, while the white balloon remains the same.

Lesson: Teaching the kiddos not only about the different types of energy and how sunlight can be converted to heat, but also about the visible spectrum of light. The black balloon fills because the black color absorbs all the wavelengths of light and converts it to heat, which then heats the water inside the bottle and fills the balloon. The white object, on the other hand, reflects the light, so that the heat is not converted. You can talk about examples that you might see every day, such as why we feel hotter wearing a black shirt on a hot day, and why all the solar panels are black or dark blue.


Sun Tracing

Photo: Tara Donne

Photo: Tara Donne


Let the shadows be your child’s guide to this activity.

  1. In the morning (8 a.m.) or late afternoon (4 p.m.), place a table in a sunny spot where long shadows are cast.

  2. Unroll Easel Paper along one side of the table and arrange a variety of objects along the edge of the paper.

  3. Have your child trace the shadows with markers, crayons or pencils.

Lesson: This is a simple way to show how shade naturally occurs. Solar developers take shading into account when designing solar power systems. The paper serves as a solar panel, absorbing sunlight, which generates usable energy. The shading of objects prevents the sun from being absorbed into the paper, such as trees or buildings would a solar system if not properly sited.


Designing With Daylight

Photo: Tara Donne

Photo: Tara Donne


Your child can make a print of their favorite specimens using the sun’s light and treated fabric. Gather toys, trinkets, and natural objects, and let the fun begin.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED White cotton fabric, cut into 18”x18” squares 20”x20” cardboard squares, covered in wax paper Tape Inkodye ($15; store.inkodye.com); Sponge brush Assortment of objects, such as leaves, branches, shells, rocks, or small toys Inkowash ($14; store.inkodye.com)

MAKE IT 1. Tape fabric squares to wax-paper-covered cardboard. While indoors or in a well-shaded area, paint a thin coat of Inkodye onto the fabric with sponge brush. 2. Have child place objects on the painted fabric. When the arrangement is complete, place it in direct sunlight. 3. After 10 minutes, bring it indoors. Remove the tape and then the objects. Wash the objects immediately if they will be reused. 4. Wash the fabric thoroughly as soon as possible using Inkowash to remove the Inkodye. Hang it up to dry in a well-shaded area.

SOURCE: PARENTS MAGAZINE

Lesson: Similar to how the the crayons captured the heat from the sun while they were placed in the cutter, solar photovoltaic (PV) cell turns sunlight into usable electricity in three general steps:


Solar S’mores Oven

Photo: Gerry Dincher

Photo: Gerry Dincher


Building solar-powered toys is not ideal for everyone, especially older children and teenagers who are more interested in practical projects than mechanical dinosaurs and cars. That doesn’t mean teens have to miss out on the fun.

  1. At the top of the closed pizza box, make a flap in the lid by cutting along the three sides and leaving the line at the back of the box. Make sure that your flap is 1-2 “smaller than the box itself.

  2. Glue aluminum foil to cover the entire bottom of the flap. Now, open the pizza box and tape a double layer of plastic wrap under the lid — the sun is going to permeate it to cook the food.

  3. Line the bottom of the box with black construction paper, and the sides with aluminum foil. Place your s’mores inside the plastic box and get ready for some tasty teaching.

Lesson: For older kids and teens, this is a simple way to demonstrate the power of the sun, and how we can collect solar energy to use for our own benefit—in this case, heating. The foil acts as a conductor, reflecting sunlight into the box, which heats the air that’s trapped inside. The change from hard chocolate and crackers to gooey s’mores are delicious proof to see the results of solar energy firsthand.