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Santa 2025

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Data work
Topic: Solar System

Santa is planning ahead for when humans colonise the rest of the Solar System - he may decide to move to another planet! In this fun activity pupils analyse planetary data to find which planet best satisfies Santa's future requirements.

They then e-mail Santa to advise him of their decision, and - if you wish - design a Christmas card to show why this planet is such a great place to spend Christmas.

Please use the new Pluto-less version of the activity, since Pluto is no longer designated as a planet!

Published: 5th January 2005
Reviews & Comments: 26

Try the activity

You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

The solar system and beyond QCA 7L:
explain phenomena like day and night and the cause of a year. Know that planets orbit the sun in similar ways to Earth. Speculate on possible conditions on other planets.

Running the activity

In this activity pupils imagine they are advising Santa which planet he should move to. Having studied Santa's requirements, they use a table of data to extract information about planets' sizes, distances from the sun, average surface temperatures, day lengths and year lengths.

To keep the activity as a short starter, pupils pick out the best 3 planets to satisfy each of Santa's criteria for an ideal base. They then compose an e-mail telling Santa which planet to move to, and why. If running the activity as a longer main task, pupils can produce Christmas cards showing why their choice of planet is an ideal place to spend Christmas.

Page 1 shows how the 9 planets orbit the Sun and sets the task.
Page 2 has a table of data for each of the planets.

The most suitable planets

The 3 planets with the longest days are: Venus, Mercury and Pluto
The 3 planets with the longest years are: Pluto, Neptune and Uranus
The smallest 3 planets are: Pluto, Mercury and Mars
The 5 inner planets are all within 650 million Km of Earth. The closest (apart from Earth itself) are: Venus, Mars and Mercury.
The rocky planets are Pluto, Mercury and Mars, Earth and Venus
The only 2 planets that will always keep ice frozen without averaging less than -150C are Mars and Jupiter. Parts of Earth fulfil this criterion, too.

News links

A transcript of Santas recent interview with [email protected]
Solar System Tour
A Multimedia Tour of the Solar System
Planet pictures
Pictures of the planets

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?


Dec 16th, 2014

5 Star

Great way to end a nine-weeks term during the Christmas Holidays...My students really enjoyed the activity.

Reviewer: K Moore

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Nov 26th, 2012

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Reviewer: tsacoontzvanes aifsengh

Santa 2025

Dec 29th, 2011

5 Star

It Is Very Good

Reviewer: Kirujan Sriskandarajah

S1/2 Science

Sep 15th, 2011

5 Star

Fun end of term activity that might just be work!

Reviewer: Marie Littlejohn

Santa 2025 review

Dec 7th, 2010

5 Star

Geat resource enjoyed teaching it

Reviewer: adam hallsworth

Science KS3

Jan 9th, 2010

5 Star

Fantastic resource for Christmas. Fun as well as being grest revision!

Reviewer: Natalie Mansfield

solar system

Jun 7th, 2009

4 Star

Have a VERY low ability Yr 7 group but was able to differentiate this and it worked well - they kids really got into it.

Reviewer: susan humphreys

Solar System and beyond

May 22nd, 2008

4 Star

This lesson was great because I could adapt it for my SEN group and top set group.
Both classes enjoyed the activity and it was easy to organise.
For the top set, I followed the whole activity and the results were great, especially the email they devised!!
As an extension activity, the students created what they thought the planet may look like.
The SEN group only managed the Christmas card activity.
Thank you

Reviewer: Emma-Jane Bradbury

Apologies for Santa's temporary disappearance

Dec 17th, 2007

5 Star

Please download the updated version

Reviewer: Pam Large

Santa 2025 review

Dec 17th, 2007

5 Star

Still unable to open the document, please try to fix


Reviewer: Suzanne Simpson


Dec 16th, 2007

1 Star

Unable to open document and use it !

Reviewer: Muna Mitchell

2025 Santa

Dec 14th, 2007

1 Star

Unable to open document please check your web page

Reviewer: Roger Bellamy-Wood

Ho Ho Ho

Nov 15th, 2007

5 Star

Great activity to keep students working whilst having fun in the festive period.

Reviewer: Tracey Holmes

Santa 2025

Nov 22nd, 2006

4 Star

Very good starter to low ability year 9 group as an introduction to unit 9J.
Somewhat longer than a conventional starter.

Reviewer: Roger Deadman

Xmas already?!

Oct 16th, 2006

5 Star

I did this exercise with a Year 8 class who had been left behind from a school trip. They did go it's only October...but soon got into the idea of drawing the Xmas cards. I used the NASA link to sum up the lesson which was really useful. The kids were engaged and it encouraged them to think about how different the planets are when it comes to day and year length.

Reviewer: Helen Jones

May and lovin it

May 15th, 2006

5 Star

Mid May, hot sunny and just lovin this activity.

After teachng Year 7 Space, this was a great activity that the whole class enjoyed. Spent 20 mins on it as a way of consolidating their understanding.

Go for it.


Reviewer: Glen Gilchrist

Santa 2025 Dec 05

Feb 9th, 2006

5 Star

Went down a storm as a cover activity before Christmas. I left this for an upper and a lower year 7 class and they were raving about it when I got back.
They just wanted more time to make the cards!

Reviewer: Corrinne Howell

Santa 2025

Jan 16th, 2006

5 Star

A great activity given the time of year. The students were very willing to get into the part of an advisor for Santa and some of the letters were very detailed. They also took the opportunity to list their requests from Santa in return for the advice.

Another activity to be used next Christmas.

Reviewer: Paul McCrossan

its brilliant

Dec 7th, 2005

5 Star

i loved the site its GR8 !! lol !!
make some more similar !!!!!!

Reviewer: indy dhillon

jillian Williams

Nov 14th, 2005

5 Star

I recently did this with a year 9 group as part of the gravity and space topic. Most of the group thoroughly enjojoyed it and were able to balance 'writing to santa' with some scientific learning too. A minority felt too mature to write to santa but were able to appreciate that the activity helped them use data to back up a decision. I certainly intend to do this one again and again and again (the emails were hilarious)

Reviewer: jillian williams

Santa 202

Nov 13th, 2005

5 Star

I ran this activity in the summer term, which captured interest straight away. The class were less than ethusiastic about making cards at first but when they realised Ruldolph could wear a space suit their imagination ran wild. It also made them think seriously about the issues creating lively class discussion.

Reviewer: sue cox

santa 2025

Jun 8th, 2005

5 Star

This was fantastic - enough info for the middle and lower groups to discuss and interpret. It was a totally different activity that engaged all of the students. The less "artistic" among them stuck to the e-mails rather than cards. The groups worked productively and were proud to display their work. Some worked individually and a few groups sent researchers off to find real images of the planets to make the cards "realistic". A huge range of work was produced and we tried inputting some of the planet design features on the ASE "build a planet" (planet 10) programme - on the smart board- which led to a lot more active discussion.

Reviewer: heather west


May 15th, 2005

5 Star

This is a fantastic lesson. I used it in the week before christmas and the pupils definitly were more engaged than watching a xmas video!The pupils loved making the cards and it was brilliant that they were still developing scientific skills such as interpreting tables whilst still having the opportunity to do something related to christmas in the last week. A winner all round!

Reviewer: joanne brunyee

Santa 2025 May 12th 2005

May 12th, 2005

4 Star

Middle of May and the kids thought it was ace! They enjoyed thinking and describing atmospheres on other planets and explaining which ones would be best for reindeer! Brilliant e-mails and good postcards. The santa interview (from [email protected]) helped support the tasks. Good skills developed in reading data tables too!

Reviewer: Oli Handley

Santa 2025

Feb 1st, 2005

5 Star

An excellent lesson. The pupils really enjoyed the activity and it was a good excuse not to stick an end of term video on. The pupils made some excellent cards with some thoughtful ideas and wrote some very amusing e mails!

Reviewer: averill jewell


Jan 28th, 2005

5 Star

use of this activity definitely limited with regard to timing. this was a very useful lesson in run-up to xmas.
the first sheet is a scene setter and is colourful and interesting. i used a data projector to start the activity.
i printed the info sheet for use in groups and the students were happy to do emails and cards.
the sheets encouraged the students to use info to make decisions after discussion.

Reviewer: margaret jordan