This week we started our unit on space and we’ve been having SO.MUCH.FUN learning all about the Sun, the Earth, and the moon! Can I just tell you how impressed I am by how much information my kiddos have learned in just a few short day… It just goes to prove that when kids are engaged, learning takes place
To begin our unit, I decided to tackle one of the biggest MISCONCEPTIONS I noticed my class was having…. Many of the kids believed that the Sun travels around, the Earth. Can you blame them? I mean every morning on my drive to school I see the Sun rising in the sky. I can totally understand why they think this. They “see” the Sun moving in the sky every day. So logic tells you, it’s the one traveling… Right, not quite!
To help my kiddos explore this idea a little further, I decided to have them create their very own models. (Feel free to download your own copy here.) They started off by coloring pictures of the Sun, Earth, and moon.
While doing this, we talked about the obvious size differences between each. The kids were shocked to see how much bigger the Sun was than the Earth and the moon. They’re used to seeing it up in the sky as a small ball. They’d never thought it was so much bigger than the Earth.
Next, we cut out all the pieces and grabbed 2 brads to attach everything together with.
We inserted the brad into the center of the Earth carefully. You could also have students puncture the paper with a pencil first before attaching the brad.
We attached that same brad to the arm on the moon. This allows the moon to orbit freely around the Earth.
Finally, we attached the Sun to the arm on the Earth. This allows the Earth to orbit around the Sun. Now that our model was complete, we practiced moving the moon around the Earth and then the Earth around the Sun. We also spoke about how all of this orbiting is happening at the same time. The kids were pretty surprised to find out that the Earth is always moving. Especially since they don’t feel it happening.
Once we had our fair share of time practicing with our new models, I had the kids turn to a partner and share how the Earth and moon orbit around the Sun. They did beautifully… the model worked! The next day we wrapped up our lesson with a quick write. On a half sheet of paper, I asked them to draw a quick illustration and explain what they had learned the day before.
What I loved about this activity was that it allowed students to “see” what’s going on in space. And the kids loved having a model to manipulate. The fact that it was small allowed them to store it inside of their science notebooks when we were finished. I even had the kids glue their writing activity into their notebooks as well.
The one recommendation that I would give to anyone wanting to make their own models, is to use cardstock or construction paper. I’ve found that heavier paper works best. Especially if you’re planning on doing a lot of orbiting!
If you like the idea of students creating a model to gain a better understanding of tricky science concepts, feel free to use the image below. Just save it to one of your Pinterest boards so you can return to it whenever you need it!