Exploring the Planets

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Students will be able to share facts about planets by completing a book.

Big Idea

Learning about the planets is a natural extension in our exploration of the sun. In this lesson, students gain an introductory understanding about the planets in our solar system.


5 minutes

To introduce the lesson and pique the students' curiosity, I show a Youtube video that helps students learn the names of the planets.  Before I show the video, I say to the students, We have been learning about the sun and our planet Earth.  Did you know there are other planets besides Earth revolving around the sun?  Let's watch a video to help us learn their names.

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my SMART Board.  If you have a SMART Board, The Planets notebook file can easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  Click here to download. There is also a pdf of the slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson:  The Planets Smartboard Slides

I gather my students in front of the SMART Board.  I have cards with each student's name on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the Smartboard.

I open the first slide (SMART Board Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques.  I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective
I can identify characteristics of different planets.

Language Objective
I can tell a friend interesting facts about planets. 

We then move on to slide 2.

Slide 2:  There are 8 planets.  They all revolve around the sun.  The planets and sun make up our solar system.  Let's learn more about each one.

Slide 3:  This is Mercury.  It is the smallest planet.  It is closest to the sun.

Slide 4: This is Venus.  It is the hottest planet.  It is closest to Earth.

Slide 5:  This is Earth.  It is the planet we live on.

Slide 6:  This is Mars.  It is called the Red Planet. 

Slide 7:  This is Jupiter.  It is the largest planet.

Slide 8:  This is Saturn. It has rings. 

Slide 9:  This is Uranus.  It rotates on its side. It has 27 moons.  Uranus has rings like Saturn, but they do not show up on this picture. 

Slide 10:  This is Neptune.  It is farthest from the sun.

Slide 11:  These are the planets in our solar system.

Slide 12:  It is now time for Turn and Talk.  Turn and Talk gives all of my students, especially my ELL students the opportunity to practice their language skills and enhance their vocabulary.  Each student has an assigned partner.  I ask them to raise hands with their partner so I know everyone is partnered up.  After they raise their hands, I say to them, Tell a friend something you learned about planets.  I want the students to walk away from the lesson, able to verbalize something they have learned.  After the students have had the opportunity talk, I invite several students to share what they discussed.

We then move back to our seats for Independent Practice.

Independent Practice

20 minutes

Materials Needed:

I distribute the books to the students and say to them, You have learned some facts about the planets.  Now it is time to share what you have learned.  There is a page in this book for every planet.  There is a sentence giving a fact about each planet, but it is missing a word.  You need to fill in the blank with the missing word that completes the fact.  When you are all done, you can color the planets.  I want you to use your sound spelling to finish each sentence.  Don't worry about whether you have book spelling.  Just do your best to sound it out.

I read the book for the students so they know what each sentence says.  The students then begin working.  I circulate around the room and help the students as needed.  When they are done, the students read the book to me.  See Exploring the Planets.mp4. I encourage the students to read the book to their families at home to share what they have learned. 


***If you wish to differentiate this activity or if your students do not have the skills to complete the sentences, I included a version of the book that has complete sentences.  To download it, click here.


5 minutes

To wrap up the lesson, we listen to another song about the planets.  This is the perfect song to enhance our learning as facts about each planet are shared.