This unit is a mini-unit that can be taught directly after Space Part 1 or independently. I chose to teach the Space Part 1 unit (also here on BetterLesson!) during January, and then Space Part 2 in late May.
Space Part 1 addresses the following NGSS standard:
1-ESS1-1. Use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted.
This mini-unit addresses this additional standard:
1-ESS1-2. Make observations at different times of year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of year.
It becomes so clear to children that days are getting longer in the Spring and Summer, which makes this a perfect time to analyze data about the amount of daylight in different seasons. Also, now having lived through multiple seasons with my students, we can share common experiences (remember when snow covered the playground *forever*!?!).
In this lesson, we review the patterns in space discussed in Unit 1. Having a review day helps refocus students on the idea of patterns in the sky, which will relate to the pattern of amount of sunlight in each season. It also allows teachers to catch up any new students added to the bunch!
To launch the unit, I bring students to the rug. I say,
A few months ago, we observed and studied patterns of objects in the sky. Who remembers a pattern that either the sun, moon, or stars makes? Turn-and-talk with a partner to restate a pattern you remember!
I recorded student responses on the Whiteboard as we worked. Our discussions showed that students recalled most patterns. Here are the recording pages I displayed on the Whiteboard, if you'd like to use the same backgrounds!
For our warm-up today, I also give the same pre assessment given in the first space unit. This way, I can analyze the data to see how much students already understand the basics.
I focus specifically on their answers to question #5:
A Park Ranger wants to plan a long hike on a day with more hours of sunlight. Which season should the Ranger choose? Circle One: Summer or Winter. Why?
When taking this pre-assessment during Space Unit 1, the Question 5 Data showed half of my class could articulate that summer was the appropriate choice. It's great that a significant number are on the right track because it means this unit can focus more on analyzing data and the why's behind the seasons.
Next, I display the KLEWS chart from the Space I unit. This chart tracked our observations and thinking throughout that unit. If you are unfamiliar with KLEWS chart, check out this video I like to call KLEWS chart 101:
Then, I share products students created in Space Unit 1 describing a pattern in the sky.
Here are more links to our previous work:
I find students are incredibly engaged (and sometimes a little embarrassed) to go back to their previous work. I emphasize how important it is to remind our brains about the previous patterns and build upon that foundation.
In closing today, I want to go beyond the patterns to review the "why's." The NGSS standards require that students describe the patterns, but they do not necessarily require teachers to teach the why's of the universe-- why does the sun appear to rise, move, then set? I find these as essential understandings, and my lessons address the why's.
We sing the "Patterns in the Sky" song as a way to review some of the why's! Songs are such a great way to incorporate content knowledge in an enjoyable way! My students have take-home binders and we put a copy of the song in the binder, for students to sing at home.