Exploring Day and Night

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Objective

Students will be able to explain the phenomena of day and night by participating in an inquiry investigation.

Big Idea

Kindergarteners hold many misconceptions about the sun and why we have days and nights. This experiment will allow them to gain an understanding of these concepts.

Opening

5 minutes

Materials Needed

  • Day and Night Investigation Recording Sheet included as a PDF with this lesson (1 copy per student)
  • pencils and crayons
  • flashlight (1 for each group of students)
  • globe (1 for each group of students)
  • a sticker to indicate where we are located on the globe (1 for each group)

This lesson is an introduction to the concept of day and night.  Through an inquiry investigation, students will be able to draw conclusions about what causes day and night. 

The students are very excited about using the globes  They saw them sitting in the corner of the classroom when they came into the room and now they can't wait to get their hands on them.  To help build excitement about our lesson and to satisfy their need to touch the globe, I give them the opportunity to look at and explore the globe.  This lasts about five minutes.  It does not take time away from the lesson, but probably saves time as once the students have the chance to do this, they pay better attention to the directions and content of our lesson. 

Inquiry Activity

20 minutes

After the students have had time to explore the globes, I say to them, Today, we are going to do an exploration.  What do you have sitting on your table?  That's right.  You have globes on your tables and you remember, we learned that a model represents something.  What is a globe a model of?  Yes!! Our Earth.  Why do we use models?  That's right, the Earth is way to big for us to explore, so the model of the Earth or the globe let's us explore something that we wouldn't be able to explore otherwise.  Models allow us to use our hands and really get into learning about the things the model represents. 

Now, I want you to find where we are on the globe.  Look for North America and then see if you can find where we are.  When you find where we are located, I am going to place a sticker on that spot so you always know where we are at on the globe (allow students time to find location and then place stickers on the globe).

I have a flashlight that I a going to give each group.  When we use flashlights, we need to be very careful that we do not shine them into people's eyes because that can hurt them.  If you shine a flashlight into someone's eyes, you will not be able to participate in our investigation. 

I turn the lights off in the room so only the light from outside is illuminating the classroom to help the students better see what is happening when the flashlight is shined on the globe.  We are going to take this flashlight and shine it at our globe just like this (demonstrate shining the light directly toward the globe) while someone is SLOWLY turning the globe. Each of you will get a chance to shine the flashlight and to turn the globe.  When we turn the globe, we go this direction (demonstrate turning the West to the East, or counterclockwise when you are looking down at the North Pole).  I circulate around the room and help each table to turn the globe the correct way.

I want you to pay attention to what is happening to where we are--remember the sticker-- when the light is shining on the globe and the globe is turning. 

The students begin the activity and I circulate around the room to check that they are correctly turning the globe and focusing the flashlight.  When everyone has had a chance to turn the globe and shine the flashlight, we move into recording our observations.  

Recording Observations

5 minutes

I distribute the recording sheet to the students and have them put their name at the top.  I say to the students, I want you to color on the recording sheet what the globe looked like when the flashlight was shining on it.  If you need to shine the flashlight on it again to see what it looked like, that's fine.  You can use your black or gray crayon to show the dark part and then color the other part of the globe the way it looks with blue and green and brown crayons.  This recording sheet should look exactly like the globe looked during our investigation when you are done filling it out.  There is a question at the bottom of your sheet.  We are going to wait to fill that out for just a little bit. 

The students begin working and I circulate around the room to observe and assist as needed.  A few students needed to start over (good thing I had made a few extra copies), as they colored the entire globe black.  I took the flashlight and reminded the students what happened with the globe so they could correctly complete their observation sheet. 

Click to see work sample

When everyone has completed the sheet, we move into our discussion portion of the lesson.

Discussion

10 minutes

After the students complete their observation sheet, I pose some questions for them.  The first one allows the students to fill in the question on their sheet.  I ask the students, What did the flashlight represent?  The majority of the class understands that the flashlight represented the sun.  I have them record this answer on the sheet and we continue with our discussion.

I ask the following questions of the students:

  • What did you notice about the part of the globe that was toward the flashlight?
  • What about the part that was away from the flashlight?
  • What do you think is happening?
  • So what time of day do you think it is on the side that is dark? 
  • What about the side that is light?
  • I have heard you talk about the sun moving across the sky, is that what is really happening? 
  • Who is moving if the sun isn't moving?

Here is a video of some of our discussion. 

So we know that as the Earth spins, the part that is toward the sun is having daytime and the part that is away from the sun is having nighttime (demonstrate again with the flashlight so the students understand what is being said).

We then move into the lesson closing.

Closing

5 minutes

I have the students quickly partner up with someone.  This could be a neighbor or an assigned partner.  I say to the students, I want you to take your recording sheet and practice explaining to your partner what this sheet shows.  Explain who is having daytime and who is having nighttime and what makes that change.  It is important that we can share our science learning with our families, so this is a great time to practice what you will say when you get home. 

I give the students time to share with their partner.  This is a great opportunity for the students to practice summarizing.  It also allows the students the opportunity to practice their language skills and it makes connections between our school learning and home.