Researching the Solar System

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SWBAT learn and share information about the sun, Earth, moon, and stars using grade-level texts.

Big Idea

Students become the experts in this lesson and share their new knowledge with their peers!

Teacher Preparation

For this lesson, students will read grade-level texts about the sun, moon, Earth, or stars and create a poster to share their new knowledge. The purpose of this lesson is to build my student's knowledge based on their own interests, as they will choose which specific topic they want to focus on for this lesson. This lesson aligns to Essential Standard 1.E.1, 'Recognize the features and patterns of the earth/moon/sun system as observed from the Earth'. Click here to listen to my Explanation of Essential Standards and Essential Question.


*Grade-level books on the earth/moon/sun system (I used these Resource Books)

*Poster paper (1 per student)

Warm Up

5 minutes

The warm up is quick today so we can get right to the activity! We start by reviewing the questions that we started at the beginning of the unit and I say,

"Since we started learning about the solar system have you come up with any more questions you would like to add to our chart?"

We take a few minutes to add them. Asking scientific questions supports Science and Engineering Practice 1 and since I am teaching this unit at the end of the school year my students have had lots of practice asking questions! They are really prepared and ask many questions now, so the list is getting quite long--but that is a good thing! After we add any new questions, I say,

"Well, I am glad you have so many questions because today you are going to do some of your own research to answer them. You are going to choose one topic--either the sun, moon, Earth, or stars--read a book or two, and make a poster about your topic. Then, at the end of class or tomorrow, you will share what you learned with your classmates. Okay?"


30 minutes

Before beginning the activity, I quickly explain my expectations for the poster and write the requirements on the board so students can refer back to them. Sometimes I choose to use a rubric for projects like these that take multiple class sessions but today's focus is really for them to read the books and understand the content so I am not requiring a rubric. I say,

"Today, the expectation is that you read your book all the way through. Then, choose 2 important facts that you want to share on your poster. What is a fact? That's right - something that you know is true because you can prove it in the text. When you create your poster, you need to have a title, your name as the author, 2 illustrations, and 2 sentences to explain them. Okay?"

For the activity, I let my students choose which topic they want to study and they get their book and paper and get to work. As they read their book and work on their poster, I help my lower readers with their text. Then as students work on their posters I make sure they refer back to the requirements on the board. When they have about 5 minutes left, I make them aware of that and make sure that students are on task to finish.

Students using the information they learned through the texts to create their poster supports Science and Engineering Practice 4 as they record their observations through writings, pictures, and drawings. Using grade level appropriate texts to obtain information supports Practice 8.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

To wrap up, I ask students to clean up their materials and then ask for volunteers to go first to share their information. As students prepare to share their posters, I say,

"As your classmates share information, it would be smart for us to take notes as we learn about the topics we did not read about - so, let's start a journal page for each topic. Make sure you write the important things on the correct page. Ready?"

After each student shares, I sum up their information for the class and we add it to our journals. I model this for the class to make sure that everyone gets accurate information about all 4 topics. The learning continues (due to the short class time) the following day.

Sharing and communicating what we learned in this way supports Practice 8.