Students will first learn that we are part of a solar system that contains 8 planets that revolve around the sun. They will learn the position of these planets and their distance from the sun. Concepts that involve large amounts are very difficult for children in 1
grade. In order to better facilitate understanding of the actual distances of the planets from the sun and from each other several demonstrations will be employed. One demonstration would be to bring children out on a field or playground and have 8 students represent each of the eight planets. The students would be placed at relative distances from each other to demonstrate the distance between the planets.
Students will then learn the sizes of the planets. Earth is quite large, especially from the perspective of a young child. To understand and grasp that Earth is one of the smaller planets would be challenging for children at this grade level. To facilitate understanding, demonstrations will again be used. Large two-dimensional models would be created demonstrating the relative size of all the planets, in order to compare them to each other. A model of the sun would also be made to show the great size difference between the planets and stars.
After learning about the sizes and distances of the planets, students will then study the motion of the planets. They will learn that all the planets move, or rotate, around the sun. Students will again be taken outside for a demonstration. A pole or some object will be used as a center to represent the sun. String will be used to measure how far each planet is from the sun, using prior calculations. Each student will take a string and rotate around the “sun” in order to better understand the motion of the planets.
Students will also learn about revolution. They will learn that as the planets rotate around the sun, they also turn. They will discover that this is what makes day and night. Demonstrations will be used both in the classroom and outside to demonstrate revolution. To show day and night, 1 student will be used to represent the sun and another will represent earth. “Earth” will slowly spin and stop while facing the sun. Students will discuss what that means and discover that the part of the earth facing the sun is experiencing light and therefore, day. The student “Earth” will continue to spin, facing away from the sun. Students will then discuss how the part of the earth facing away from the sun is experiencing dark and therefore, night. The class will return outside and the students will again rotate around the sun, adding the motion of revolution to complete their understanding of how the planets move.
Students will then do a short study on each planet in our solar system to learn major and interesting facts about each one. Students will be read to and discuss one planet a day and discuss the similarities and differences among planets. Students will compile a Planets book, which contains important and interesting information about each planet.
To finish off the unit, students will select a planet to compare with Earth. The teacher will demonstrate first using a venn diagram to write a short paragraph. Students will plan which planet they would like to compare to Earth, complete the venn diagram, and then write a short paragraph that compares another planet to earth. Students should incorporate the information learned throughout the unit to compile the written paper. For this part of the unit, students will work in pairs. A native language Spanish speaker will be paired with a non-native Spanish speaker. In this way the pairs can collaborate and help each other learn facts about their planets and complete the writing. Because of the nature of my classroom, it is imperative that students be paired, but it is not necessary for the completion of the unit.
Students will share and display comparisons at the culmination of the unit.