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Project Based Learning Solar System Unit

August 22, 2021 No Comments

A few days ago…. I was with my kids at the park, it was starting to get dark, but we were close to home, it was the weekend and we were having too much fun with the neighbors. I gave the kids the 5 min warning signal to head home and as we were gathering our things one of my girls said “What is that?” and pointed to the sky.

In the sky we see these lights that look like stars moving in the same direction and are spaced out the same way. It looked as if they were all coming out of this one star and they kept going and going. It was like a line of moving stars, a train in the sky. We all stared at the sky for about 5 minutes baffled by what it could be.

What was it? Where did they come from? Is it going to keep going?

So what was it?

Anything in our solar system amazes me. Most kids are the same way, they see all the stars up there, the moon, the sun and there are so many questions.  I have watched our Free International Space Station Field Trip and wonder how they built it up there, how do they get work done in space in those conditions?

After the kids were ready for bed, this “thing” we saw was still on all our minds, so we decided to “Google it”. I felt like one of my students the way I put the description of what we saw into Google, but we found it! Many other people saw it too and all described it the same way in Google Search. Ha! Thank you Google!

Apparently Elon Musk put a bunch of satellites into space just a few days before and we were seeing the lights from them! CLICK HERE TO SEE A VIDEO ABOUT IT

We were so relieved to find out what it was, but still wondered, how? How did he do that? How do all the satellites stay in line like they are on the same train track? 

Learning about the solar system and its patterns is fascinating. We were given all these amazing natural wonders and it is so fun to explore and learn more. 

PATTERNS of the MOON

I always start our solar system unit with the patterns of the moon. We track the moon each day in our Moon Journals.

Moon Phases Activities

Since we can’t see the moon during the day (well sometimes we can), I have them track at home. If you have a group of students that do not do their homework, then this can be done during the school day. There are various websites that have what the moon will look like each day. CLICK HERE FOR A SITE

We draw the moon, discuss the phase, and we also track the sunrise and sunset times. This is a great way for them to see the patterns of the moon. We track it each day during our solar system unit. 

INVESTIGATING OUR MOON

While we are tracking each day we are investigating our moon by reading mini books about the moon, reading stories about the moon, watching videos, doing close readings and comprehension questions, learning about the rotation of the moon in our solar system and writing about the moon.

Moon and Sun Mini Books

OREO MOON PHASES ACTIVITY

We end the unit with our Oreo Cookie Moon Phases activity. It is a great way to assess the students on their knowledge of the phases. We use Oreos to represent each phase. For more information on this FREE Unit. CLICK HERE

PATTERNS OF THE SUN

We then move onto learning about the Sun. We do a similar set up to the moon and we read stories about the sun, watch videos, do close readings, comprehension questions, learn about the rotation of the moon, sun and earth, sun and shadows and write about the process.

ADD IN SOME SUN FUN

We also do an art project with the sun and make a sun catcher.  This is a great way to put the pencils and books down for a bit and make something crafty that has to do with what we are learning.

HOW WE GET OUR SEASONSPROJECT

We end the entire unit learning about how we get seasons and how it is affected by the Sun and the Moon. This can be a group project or an end of the unit individual project. Students make a book about each of the seasons and the characteristics of each season and what that has to do with the sun and the moon.

These books are great for a culminating event or a presentation that the class holds at the end of the unit. I love watching the kids read their own books to each other. It really builds their confidence.

If your interested in this unit for your classroom, CLICK HERE for more information. This unit is available for Project Based Learning and there is one available for those not interested in PBL. 

This unit is also split up into smaller units for teachers needing individual lessons. 

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