Modeling is an important approach in the teaching and learning of science. In this study, we attempt to bring modeling within the reach of young children by creating the SimSketch modeling system, which is based on freehand drawings that can be turned into simulations. This system was used by 247 children (ages ranging from 7 to 15) to create a drawing-based model of the solar system. The results show that children in the target age group are capable of creating a drawing-based model of the solar system and can use it to show the situations in which eclipses occur. Structural equation modeling predicting post-test knowledge scores based on learners’ pre-test knowledge scores, the quality of their drawings and motivational aspects yielded some evidence that such drawing contributes to learning. Consequences for using modeling with young children are considered.