The Sun Rises and Sets

4 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT explain that the sun rises and sets in a consistent pattern.

Big Idea

Use text, images, and a video to show students the pattern created by the sun rising and setting.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

Today we learn about the pattern created by the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. This connects to the standard 1-ESS1-1. The lessons prior to this one have been about how the earth orbits the sun, and tilts on its axis. The students also have explored the tilt of the earth's axis and the seasons that occur yearly as a result of the pattern. I felt like exploring the earth and the sun from a space perspective might really help my students understand why the sun appears to rise in the east and set in the west. It allows the students to have a deeper understanding, since they have already learned about the earth's orbit and tilt.  Typically, I read a standard and make a list of the things I think my students need to know before I really teach the explicit information. This makes the criteria of the standard much easier for the students to understand. Really, many first graders are not very familiar with this content, so taking it slow and teaching prerequisite information makes things flow smoothly.

 Lesson Overview

I find that keeping consistent transitions and procedure really helps my students complete complex task, because they know what to expect. We almost always begin our lessons in the lounge, then we move to the center of the room where the desks are in the center of the room in groups of four. We have the explore, explain, and elaborate sections at their desks. Last we meet back in the lounge for the evaluation of the lesson.


10 minutes

Now I begin the lesson in the lounge and I have two things I need to do in this section. First, I want to excite my class. Second, I want to connect todays learning to previous learning, because I am trying to develop this as a habit for my students. Reflecting upon prior learning teaches students to make connections and build upon what they have been learning. This is one strategy I use to develop the skill of connecting learning for my class.

The first thing I do is project the lesson image on the Smart Board, because it excites the class. Then I get my students talking by saying, "Tell your peanut butter jelly partner the patterns you know about regarding the sun." Now, I expect my students to say, "The earth orbits the sun and it causes the seasonal patterns in our year." I do listen, and then ask, "Will a volunteer please share your knowledge?" Then I ask, "Will somebody else ad to that?" I am teaching them to build upon their peers ideas, and share their own knowledge. I find that students seem to find learning from their peers more meaningful. If the students do seem to not recall anything from the previous lessons, then I share, "We have studied the earth's orbit and tilt. This cause the patterns we see in daylight in the seasons in every year."

Next, I share the plan for the lesson, because it helps my students persevere throughout this lesson. I say, "Today we are going to observe the pattern created by the sun rising and setting."


15 minutes

In this section my students listen to me read a text, explain a diagram, and record the important information about the pattern they see in the sun moving across the sky.

I first tell the students we are looking for the answer to the question I ask, "What is the pattern of the sun moving across the sky?" It is important to state the question before reading, so the students can look for an answer as they read. So, I read the text three times to the class. The students have a text and they follow along, because several students cannot read this text yet. But, I do not hesitate from exposing my students to complex text I just add scaffolding. On the third reading I ask the students to highlight the information that shares the suns pattern across the sky. I say, "Look for the answer to the question: What is the sun's pattern across the sky? Underline the important information that answers the question."

Then I show the image on the Smart Board. I explain that the sun starts on the East and I show them where this is, because many students may not be familiar with the East. I also explain, "The East refers to a location or direction just like left or right." I show the class where East is in our room, on the globe, and on the board. Then I explain that the sun sets in the West, and I show where the west is in the room, globe, and on the board. I say, "You can see that the sun begins in the East and moves to the West. It rises in the East, goes up to it's highest point midday, and then sets in the West."


10 minutes

Now I keep the class at their desks and I ask them to talk to their shoulder partner, then share across the table, and last the entire class shares what pattern they notice as the sun moves across the sky. This is a nice strategy to help my students reflect upon their new knowledge. I say, "Share your notes about the pattern you notice as the sun moves across the sky." Hopefully my students notice the sun travels from east to west in our sky." I listen closely as my students talk, and if I see a group not talking I just ask them to share their notes. If they cannot read their notes I just read them for them, or ask their partner to read them.

Next, I say, "Please add anything you need to on your notes." Then I ask the students to share across the table by saying, "Please tell the group across the table what you notice in the pattern of the sun from the text and the picture." Then I listen to make sure each child is participating and is saying the right thing. If they are confused I reread the text or explain the picture. Then I say, "Are you sure your notes represent your understanding? Change them so they show what you know now." 

Last, I ask for a volunteer to share the pattern they observed, read about, and made notes documenting. Then I listen and encourage the rest of the class to listen by saying, "Be sure you listen, so you can add to what they say. This is a positive behavior strategy to focus the class on what I want them to do instead of correctly unwanted behavior. Now, I say, "Will anyone add to what their peer said. Do you agree or disagree and why?" This is how I teach the students to build upon the ideas of their peers.


15 minutes

In this section I show the video above to the class first and let them just watch it. Then I ask them them to look more closely at the video and try to create their own illustration of what happens as the sun moves across the sky. I say, "Please illustrate the way the sun moves across the sky. Be sure to illustrate the East and West, and you may need to illustrate the horizon. The horizon is where the sun meets the ground. So, it may help you to draw a ground as you show how the sun rises, reaches a peak, and then goes down."

Moving on, I decided to have the class do an application activity, because it engages them in a higher order thinking opportunity. In addition, it really helps my students remember the pattern. As the class is working I walk around and help my students. I watch them work and if I see somebody going in the wrong direction I may replay the video, or I may just talk to them about their work.


10 minutes

At this point the lesson is moving to a close and I transition the class back to the lounge where we can be close together. I allow two or three students to explain their work to the class, which is their favorite portion of every lesson. The students show the class their illustration of the sun moving across the sky, and they explain why it has this pattern. We have a chart on the board and I check off each child as they present, and we do presentation everyday. So, everyone gets the chance to present in a two week period.  But, some days we do presentations during snack and at recess. This is when my students are really eager to present. Other times I will even allow them to go read and present to a kindergarten class, because this makes my students feel really proud.

One big strategy I use that makes things work so smoothly when I am really challenging is positive behavior support. It's focusing on what I want the students to do instead of reprimanding them when they talk or just don't listen. We do this fun chant, "Criss cross apple sauce, pockets on the floor, hands in our laps, talking no more." Then I add, " Your eyes are on the speaker. You are listening to what they say, and you are really evaluating if they are giving you the correct information."

At the end of the lesson I also want the make sure I have used my spreadsheet, and I am looking for about three things. The students should have accurately answered the question about the sun moving from the East to the West. They should also have created an accurate illustration, and they need to speak loud and clearly. My rubric has the students names on the left and the columns named across the top. The goal for the students is 3/3. After I analyze the data from the lesson I plan new lessons I can teach in small group to really help my students master the skill where they need work.