Let's Observe the Sun - Day 1

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SWBAT observe and describe the Sun's movement across our day sky.

Big Idea

Let's get outside and observe the SUN!! Does our Sun have predictable patterns? In this series of "The Sun" lessons students will observe and describe our Sun's predictable patterns!

Setting the Stage:

National Science Education Science Standards Connection:

The National Science Education Standards has said that making observations is key to inquiry-based and discovery-focused learning in science instruction. In order to do this students participate in inquiry-based learning that allows them to solve a problem in science through observation, discourse and using a science journal. Students will then be give a chance to share their findings with their peers and then reflect on their own understanding.

Next Generation Science Standards Connection:

In this lesson students will observe the sun. 1-ESS1-1 asks students to use observations to explore the predictable patterns of our sun.  Students will begin taking home a Science Bag and Sun Journal to observe and record the sunset.  Each day the Sun Journal is shared and the findings are recorded on our classroom sunset calendar.

Sun Observations:

Students will observe the sun three times a day for a week. We will record their observations on our sun chart each day and use these findings to observe the patterns of the sun.

Home to School Connection:

We will be learning about the sun, the stars and moon. The NGSS asks that students to observe, describe and predict how the sun and moon changes over a period of time. I send home two science bags that will allow students to observe the night sky.

The Sun Bag: In order for students to observe the changes of our sunset, each day a different student takes home our Sun Bag that includes a Sunset Observations sheet, The Sun: Our Nearest Star by Franklyn M. Branley, a box of crayons and a parent letter. Students record his/her findings on our class Sunset Calendar. We observe the sun for a full month so that we can observe, describe and predict the sunset changes.

The Moon Bag: In order for students to observe the change of the moon, each day a different student takes home our Moon Bag which includes a Moon Observation Form (black paper), The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons, white crayons and a parent letter. Then students record his/her findings on our class Moon Phases Calendar. We observe the moon for a full month so that we can observe, describe and predict the changes it goes through in one full cycle. If the moon is not visible that student will record the night sky and then the next day we will predict what it would have looked like had it been seen.

Classroom Structures:

In order to support a high level of student discourse within my science lessons I have assigned two different student partnerships.  Turn and Talk Partners are discourse partners that work together to share the deep thinking that happens throughout the day.  Workshop Partners are partners who are matched together for the purpose of working during our independent times.  In this lesson students will be engaged in both partnerships.


KLEWS anchor chart: What are the patterns of the sun?


Sun Song

Science Journal


15 minutes

I want to develop a culture that encourages student engagement, curiosity and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration. In the lesson Our Sky I asked students to explore the sky and record their noticings in their science journals. 

WOW! Boys and girls you have so many wonderful thoughts. You scientists are always observing and noticing new things.  That is what science is all about! Your observations will make you very good a discovering new stuff. 

I tell my students that we will be looking closer at the Sun.

Boys and girls in our lesson title "Our Sky," you made some amazing observations about objects in the sky.  Let's look again at our anchor chart and see what we found: stars, planets, sun, and moon. I hold up a picture of the sun. Do you know what is in this picture? You are right! This is the sun.  The sun is a sphere or a ball. I hold up one of our recess balls and toss it to a couple students in the classroom.  

For the next series of lessons we will be using the same anchor chart.  A KLEWS anchor chart is described as a tool that allows students to track their learning throughout an investigation, building up to the understanding of a scientific principle. Our KLEWS chart will track the learning about the sun for our next lessons.  I show my students our KLEWS anchor chart and read the Essential Question that will guide our lessons on the sun: Does the sun have predictable patterns? If so, what are they? 

Have you ever heard the word predictable before? How about prediction?  What is a prediction?  You are right! A prediction is a guess that is made based on clues.  Have you ever heard the word pattern?  Turn and tell your partner some examples of a pattern. My students share examples and I listen in on their conversations so I can share some examples when we regroup.

WOW! You are right!  Wilder said, "A pattern is like red, red, blue, red, red, blue." It is a pattern that repeats over and over again.  Can you predict what will come next in her pattern?  All the students shout, "RED!!!"

Great JOB! This is exactly what we are going to be observing or discovering. Does the sun have a pattern that repeats over and over again? If so can make predictions about what is going to come next.


25 minutes

In this lesson we will go outside to observe of the sun three different times: morning, lunch and afternoon.  Students will note the position of the sun throughout the day as well as the sky and weather conditions, such as clouds or rain, and the appearance of the sun as a result. My students will record their results in their science journal. Back in the classroom, we record our findings on our Sun Observation Chart. Before going outside I activate prior knowledge about the sun by filling the K -"What we think we know" section of our KLEWS chart. 

You probably know a lot about the sun.  I know in our light unit we learned that it is a natural light source. Do you remember that?  It produces light energy. It is called solar energy and you can see it in our day sky.  The sun is a very important resource for plants, animals and especially people.  What do you think you already know about the sun? I allow my students to share what they already know and listen in for students understanding or misunderstandings that might need to be addressed in this unit.

I point to our our K - "What we think we know" chart. Here I record some of the things the children shared about the sun:

The sun is a light source.

The sun makes energy.

Plants need the sun.


Today we are going to observe the sun but you must wear your sunglasses and you may not look directly at the sun because it is not good for your eyes. We are going to study the sun's patterns.  Remember a pattern is something that happens over and over again. It repeats. Can you turn and tell your partner some of the patterns you have learned about?

I line my students up and we head outside.  We notice the sun and before sending them off I ask my students to help develop a plan for measuring the sun's location in the sky. Boys and girls we see where the sun is in they sky but how are you going to measure where the sun is located so you can remember later? Some of you say you can draw a picture but how will you show in your picture how high it is?  Rylie raises her hand and says, We can draw the mountains and show that the sun is close to the mountains.  I ask, How are you going to measure and then record that information in your journals? I allow for wait time and then ask my student to share their idea with their turn and talk partner.  These were some of the suggestions that came from that discussion:

*We could use our pencil to measure how high the sun is from the mountains

*We could draw it

*We could draw the mountains and the sun

Boys and girls, Taige thought  we could use our pencils to see how many pencils high the sun is from the mountains?  Have you ever tried to measure something far away before.  The secret is to hold your arm way out in front of you and then put the eraser on the mountain and see how many pencils it takes to get to the sun.  Do you think you could give this a try?

Each student takes along a clip board, writing tools and their science journals and heads outside to do some observations.

As my students work I walk around and confer with each group naming and noticing the smart thinking happening. Conferring is the process of listening and recording the work the student or students are doing and then compliment the work. As I listen, I research a teaching point and then work to provide clarification through questioning, modeling and re-teaching. My goal with this conference is to prompt each group with questions that will allow for their illustrations to be accurate representations of the Sun. I want them to notice where the Sun is located and how it looks different at different parts of the day.

Attending to precision is a skill that I work on all year with my first grade students. I encourage my students to create accurate representations in their drawings.  I ask them to pay close attention to the color, lines, and where it is located in the sky. I ask questions like: Is it up high or low? Is it really dark? Is it light?  Is it completely round?


10 minutes

We head back outside two more times and observe the sun (afternoon and lunch). 

Back in the classroom I have my students share their observations. The common core writing standards asks student to focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed. This can be done by sharing illustrations as well.  My students share their drawing and respond to feedback and/or questions from their peers. 

After a few minutes I bring them back together to fill in our KLEWS anchor chart. We will look at our illustrations to make some conclusions about the patterns of the Sun.

Boys and girls today you observed the sun at three different times.  What did you notice?  Did you see any pattern? My students share that the sun was in different spots. You are right! Our sun moved across the sky.  I write that under L - "What we learned."

Which way did it move?  I ask my students to look back at the data recorded in their journals. I repeat my question, Which way did it move? What happened as it moved? Please share your findings with your workshop partner.  As the students share I record their findings on KLEWS chart under E-"What is our Evidence?"

I record:

The sun moves across the sky.

The sun was low in the morning.

The sun was high in the sky at lunch.

At afternoon recess it was low again.

I bring the class back together and go over our findings.  Boys and girls do you all agree with these findings?  Some children agree but others disagree.  We will continue this learning in our next lesson with more concrete data.

**Interesting Fact to include: Did you know the sun is lower in the sky in winter and higher in summer?


10 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 1 requires students to ask questions and define problems.  Science begins with questioning and allows for curiosity to drive the learning in the classroom. The NGSS states:

The actual doing of science or engineering can pique students’ curiosity, capture their interest, and motivate their continued study; the insights thus gained help them recognize that the work of scientists and engineers is a creative endeavor.

Young children are naturals at asking questions in science. I encourage questioning in all the work in the classroom and respond to daily questions with, That's a great question! Let's find a way to solve it! or "Great question. What do you need to do to find out the answer. At the beginning of the school year I spend a lot of time teaching the difference between a "noticing" and a "wondering." I encourage my student to use the words, "I wonder" before starting their questions.  This helps them discern between asking questions and telling about something they already know.

In this lesson I record their questions on my Investigation worksheet posted on the Interactive Whiteboard. I will guide my students questions by saying, Boys and girls everyday we look up in the sky and we see our Sun.  Have you ever wondered about the sun? What do you want to know about the sun? Please share your questions with your turn and talk partner. 

Once the students identify the questions we need to answer, I write our questions KLEWS anchor chart under W- "What are we still wondering?

*Will the sun be low in the morning again?

*Will the sun move across the sky tomorrow?

*Where is the sun when you can't see it?

*How does the sun move?


5 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 4 asks students to analyze data. At the K-2 level this involves students collecting, recording, and sharing observations. In this lesson the students are recording information, thoughts and ideas in their science journals. I send my students back to their science journals and ask them to write the answer to our big question: "What do you notice about the Sun?"

As the students write I tell them to refer back to the research we did today. I am looking for answers like, "The sun moves across the sky." This formative assessment gives me insight on the learning that is taking place.