The Sun and Earth Work Together

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SWBAT identify how Earth's movement causes day and night.

Big Idea

What causes day and night?

Setting the Stage

National Science Teaching Standards:

The sun and earth are objects in the sky. The sun provides heat and light to the earth, and the earth rotates. Day and night occur in a 24-hour cycle. That is the length of time that it takes earth to rotate.  This lesson is imperative because students learn that Earth movements cause day and night. Students need to understand that the Earth rotations causes day and night. When the sun shines on the Earth, it is daytime. When it is not shining on the Earth, it is nighttime. Also, this is a part of the TN curriculum.

 ï»¿ï»¿Science and Engineering Practices: 

SP 8 addresses obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in K–2 which builds on prior knowledge, using text, and analyzing text.  Students communicate what they learn to others about the information that they obtained from the lesson and additional research. This lesson helps students to communicate where it is day and night on Earth. Also, the lesson addresses SP 2: developing and using models. Students create a model of a Earth, and the students use a flashlight as a light source to determine day and night. In creating the model, the students learn what causes day and night. The earth rotates around the sun. When it is day on one side, it is nighttime on the other side. 

Building Background:

Students understand that the sun helps cause day and night. They know the difference between daytime and nighttime. In social studies, we discuss Earth and how it rotates. 


  • Globe
  • Duct Tape
  • Flashlight


10 minutes

While the students sit at their desks, they watch the Earth and Sun video, which includes a song. I permit the students to observe the video to help my visual learners as they learn important facts about the Earth and Sun. The song helps support my auditory learners through listening. In addition, my kinesthetic learners will be able to clap and move to the rhythm of the beat in order to scaffold their learning.



After the video, I will pose the following questions: How can we tell the side of the Earth where we live is facing the Sun right now? How do you know that the side of Earth where you live is not facing the Sun? Why does the Sun seem to change position?

Students review the following terms: axis, rotation, Sun's position, and orbit. These terms are reviewed to help students recall and retain the terms. I have the students say the word and the terms. This helps my auditory learners. They learn how to listen and speak to scientific terms.  Then the words are placed on the word wall.  



25 minutes

While groups are sitting at their tables, groups are informed that they will investigate, " How can we tell when it is day or night?"

They are told they are going to use a globe to determine day and night. They are provided with a lab sheet. The lab sheet is provided to guide students with their investigation and instruct them on what to do. Also, it is important that students learn how to communicate like a scientist, through writing.

Groups are instructed that they must shine a flashlight on the globe, day and night, picture. Then groups determine: Where is it day? and Where is it night? They are instructed to record their findings on their lab sheet. I encourage the students to write in complete sentences to ensure that they are working on communicating their scientific findings. Here are the students working, day and night, video.  Here is an example of Day and Night-student work.

I monitor to facilitate their learning. I ask the following questions: How can you tell when it is day or night? What causes day and night? What direction does Earth rotate? I ask the students questions to check for their understanding during the investigation. This helps me to check and clear up misconceptions as well.



10 minutes

While students are sitting at their desks, groups share their findings with the class. Groups are encouraged to communicate because this helps support the science skill, communication.  It is important that scientists learn that they can communicate through writing, drawing, and speaking.

Also, I take up the lab sheets to check for students' understandings. I am checking to make sure that they understand what causes day and night.