The Earth in the Solar System

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SWBAT describe the Earth's place in the solar system and how it orbits the sun.

Big Idea

Where are we in relation to the sun, moon, and other planets? What makes Earth so special? Well, YOU!

Teacher Preparation

This lesson is part of our unit on the Earth, moon, and sun and is important because it teaches students about where our planet is in relation to the others, and the sun and moon! Also, it informs students of the special factors that make Earth so special including that we are the only planet we know of that we can live on! This lesson aligns to Essential Standard 1.E.1.1, Recognize differences in the features of the day and night sky and apparent movement of objects across the sky as observed from Earth. The essential questions for this lesson are "How does the Earth move?" and "What makes Earth so special?" These questions will guide the lesson. Listen to my Explanation of Essential Standards and Essential Question to learn more.


*Several nonfiction texts about the Earth in the solar system

*Science journals & pencils

Warm Up

5 minutes

For the warm up, I want my students to really think about how the Earth moves since they already really know from the lessons about the moon and the sun. I say,

"To get started today, write down how the Earth moves and how quickly it moves. Then, write down 2 questions you have about it in the solar system."

Asking scientific questions supports Science and Engineering Practice 1 and I am trying to move my students towards working independently since we are close to the end of the school year. After a few minutes, I ask students to share what they wrote and I listen to see if students have remembered that the Earth rotates all the way around in 24 hours and goes around the sun in 365 days. After we share questions we have about the Earth in the solar system and I write them on the board to refer back to at the end of the lesson, we move on to the activity.


30 minutes

Instead of another lesson led by the teacher, today I turn it back over to my students. At each table group, I have 2-3 books about the Earth ready to go for my students to answer their own questions. I say,

"Today, your task is to answer both our class questions and your own questions about the Earth in the solar system. You can use the texts at your tables and you can talk quietly with the people at your tables. I will come around and help you if you need it. Be ready to share what you have learned in about 15 minutes."

Then, I set my students free to do some reading and thinking on their own for a while. I like this set-up because it allows me to listen in and see who is really thinking about their questions and who needs more support. Also, I can determine who really needs to settle down and focus! As the students work, my main job today is to make sure students get what they need from the texts. Using grade-appropriate texts to gather scientific information supports Science and Engineering Practice 8. Recording their observations and ideas supports Practice 4, Analyzing and Interpreting Data. As students write the answers to their questions and other things they find interesting it supports this Practice.

After 15 minutes or so, I say,

"Finish up your work and let's meet on the carpet and share what we learned. Also, we will see if we have any other questions that we need to find out the answers to."

Communicating and sharing scientific information also supports Practice 8.

Once we are settled on the carpet, I ask for students to first answer our class questions for the day. I take several responses, as they tend to build on each other with the more students that I call on. Then I say,

"Who had a different question that they found out the answer to?"

We spend time just talking about interesting facts and information about the Earth. This discourse supports Practice 8 as students share their scientific knowledge.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

Since students spent so much of the day talking and reading today, our wrap up is quick. I typically end by having students answer the essential questions, but we have already done that! Instead, I say,

"To wrap up our lesson, tell me something really amazing you have learned in this unit about the solar system that you did not know before!"

Again, communicating scientific knowledge supports Practice 8.