The Constellations

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SWBAT observe and communicate star patterns in our night sky.

Big Idea

Did you say patterns? Students will get to explore the constellations in our night sky and even create their own!

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:

1-ESS1-1 asks students to use observations to explore the predictable patterns of our moon, sun and stars. In this lesson students will observe the predictable patters of our stars.

Home-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 - Do stars have predictable patterns?

Explore Section: Video - I Want to Know: Stars and Constellations,

Explore Section: Video - Dinosaur Train: Dinosaur Discoveries: Constellations

Explore Section: Investigation Worksheet - Our Constellations

Elaborate Section:  Black Cardstock (5.5 x 4.25), Thumb Tacks, Copy paper (5.5 x 4.25)

Science Journal - Prompt: What star patterns can you see in the night sky?


15 minutes

I begin this lesson by developing a culture that encourages student engagement, curiosity and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration. I activate prior knowledge for my young students by referring to our KLEWS chart-Do the stars have predictable patterns?

In our last lesson we started our KLEWS anchor chart titled, "Do the stars have predictable patterns? If so, what are they?"

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.

Boys and girls looking at our KLEWS chart from our last lesson you learned that the stars are visible at night but not during day. That is a predictable pattern.  The sun rises and it is so bright that we cannot see the stars.

Today you are going to observe the stars again but before we start what do you wonder about our the stars? I allow my students a few moments to share. As they share I sit and listen in on conversations and guide questions to support our investigation. 

My students say things like:

I am wondering where they are?

Are they round like the sun?

I wonder if they change shape?

I wonder if it is a predictable pattern?

I bring my students back together. I am wondering the same thing as all of you?  Will you please take a moment and write your question on this sticky note?  Once you have written your question, you will come over to our KLEWS chart and stick it under the "What -What are you wondering?" column. 

After the students have placed their sticky notes on the KLEWS chart, I read over the questions and then point out which question we will be investigating in today's lesson.

Today we will be investigating this question, "Do the stars have more predictable patterns?"


25 minutes

The NGSS asks that students obtain, evaluate, and communicate information by building on prior experiences and using observations and texts to communicate new information. In this lesson my students observe star constellations by watching two videos on our night sky.

After we watching this video we have a science discussion about our observations. I ask students to share what they noticed. My students share things like:

*The stars make shapes in the sky.

*The stars make animals and shapes.

I ask students to work with their workshop partners. I pass out the Investigation Worksheet: Our Constellations and ask my students to work together to fill in one fact that they learned about our stars.

Boys and girls you have observed some of the patterns in our night sky. There are stars that are always in the same place and people long ago grouped stars together to make constellations.  Please watch this next video. As you are listening, I want you to see if you notice some new information.

I show my students a second video.

After showing my students these two videos on our stars I ask that students meet with their workshop partner to discuss what they have learned.  After a few minutes I ask them to fill in the other two facts on the Investigation Worksheet: Our constellations.


10 minutes

The NGSS does not require students to know the constellations. For this lesson we focus on the fact that stars are in our night sky and because of their placement people long ago created constellations using the stars. We can still see those constellations today because the stars are still in the same spots.

The NGSS asks that students obtain, evaluate, and communicate information.  In this section students communicate their observations and I record their finding on the E-Evidence and L-Learned columns of our KLEWS chart.

I record You can see the stars make pictures in our night sky and you can see them all the time. This is our evidence. Under L-Learned I write, stars create patterns in our night sky because they don't move.  People have created constellations from these star patterns.

I clarify misconceptions, Boys and girls, did you hear the video call constellations star patterns? Well guess what? They are!  Many stars are grouped together to create star patterns called constellations. These are predictable patterns because they don't change. The stars don't move next to different stars. They stay in the same their constellation.


10 minutes

The NGSS asks that students develop and use models in investigation. In this next section, students will design and name their own constellations to elaborate on their knowledge.

They will need:

Black Cardstock (5.5 x 4.25)

Thumb Tacks

Copy paper (5.5 x 4.25)

I ask my students to draw their own constellations of our night sky.  I tell my students to put a big dots along the lines of their pictures. I am careful to model this part of the lesson explicitly. Next, I  tape that paper with the picture of their constellation on the top of black construction paper.  I show my students how to hold this so the top paper does not move. Next, my students lay there papers on the carpet and then use their tacks to make holes.  Students should only poke holes in the spots where they put the dots. Once they finish, they can remove the top piece of paper.  We hold our constellations up to the window to see our patterns. 


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 star patterns can you see in our night sky?" Explain.

As the students write I tell them to refer back to the research we did today. I am looking for answers like, "The stars are in constellations. Constellations are groups of stars that are arranged in pictures in the night sky." This formative assessment gives me insight on the learning that is taking place.