This lesson begins with an inquiry activity to help the students understand the concept of the revolution of the earth around the sun. I pass out the recording sheets and have the students put their name on it. To begin the activity, I have two students stand with their backs together, each one holding a flashlight and pointing it out. They stand perpendicular to the class. These students represent the sun. I turn the lights out so the flashlight's light shows.
I take the globe and give it to a student. I show the student how to hold the globe. I then point out to the students the way the Earth is tilted. I say to the students, The Earth is not straight up and down. It is tilted slightly on its axis, or the imaginary line that goes through the middle of it. I hold up the globe and point out the way it is tilted. I place the student facing the glass, holding the globe. I say to the students, We have the sun here and right here we have the Earth. Now, I am going to help this student walk around the sun. I help the student to walk around the "sun". I stop the student so the light is hitting the Northern Hemisphere. I have the students color in their recording sheet to show what the globe looks like with the light hitting it (some students needed to move from their seats to see better before coloring). See sample.
Now I help the student walk to the opposite side of the sun, having the light hit the southern hemisphere. Again, I have the students draw what the globe looks like, coloring in the section of the Earth that is not lighted. After everyone has recorded their results, I have the students assisting fill out the sheet with the help of their neighbors. We then move into discussion.
I say to the students, I want you to talk as a table group. What do you think our demonstration showed? I give the students time to talk. Some of them immediately jump to the concept of day and night. When I hear this conversation, I remind them that we learned the Earth's rotation is responsible for day and night, that what we just saw represents something different. When I redirect the students, several of them quickly make the connection to the seasons. (We have learned about the seasons prior to this lesson during our reading curriculum, so the students are making a connection to prior knowledge).
I then bring the class together to summarize our learning. So, does someone want to share what their group came up with? See Video. I invite students to share and I then focus on the seasons. I ask the students the following questions:
So our demonstration showed how we get seasons. We have seasons because the earth is tilted (wonky) as it makes its yearly journey around the sun. The Earth's axis is tilted jut like this (show globe) This means that the Earth is always "pointing" to one side as it goes around the Sun. When the sun was hitting our part of the globe, what season are we experiencing here? (I use the flashlight to demonstrate) Why?
When the sun is hitting the southern part of the globe, what season do you think we have here? (Again, I use the flashlight to demonstrate) Why do you think that?
Well, we know how we get summer and winter...how do you think we get spring and fall?
I invite students to share how spring and fall might happen. Some get up and use the globe to demonstrate.
To wrap up our learning, there is also a great interactive site that allows you to click on different positions of the Earth's rotation to better see what happens.
I have also included a season book that I created. I used this student book during our literacy unit that included seasons, but you may want to further cover what happens during each season. This book would be an excellent summary. Click here to download it.