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Learning Experience/Unit

Science: Planets of our Solar System


Science (NYS P-12)

Grade Levels

Elementary, 1st Grade, 5th Grade

Learning Context/ Introduction

It is important for students to understand what is in our Solar System. The Students need to know that there are other planets besides the Earth. Students will be introduced to the other seven planets.

Essential Question

What are the physical characteristics of the eight planets in our Solar System?


Five 60-minute days:

  • The teacher will teach for thirty minutes with the SMART Board and videos.

  • For the last thirty minutes students will work on their project.


  • SMART Board
  • Computers with Internet access
  • Printers
  • Digital camera
  • Crayons, scissors, glue, stickers
  • Blue poster board
  • Lined spaceship paper
  • Spaceship template
  • Astronaut Log
  • The Magic School Bus: Sees Stars by Joanna Cole
  • The Magic School Bus: Space Adventure by Scholastic
  • The Magic School Bus: Out of This World by Joanna Cole


Day One:

  1. For the first thirty minutes the teacher will begin the lesson by playing a video of "The Magic School Bus: Space Adventures". The teacher will begin talking about the Universe and the eight planets. There will be visuals on the SMART Board. The class will have an informal discussion, with teacher prepared questions about the planets. This discussion will also include how Pluto is no longer considered a planet.

  2. The teacher will give the class a pre-test to find out what background knowledge they have about the planets.

  3. The teacher will give detailed information on the first three inner planets closest to the Sun: Mercury, Venus and Earth.

  4. The teacher will explain what their project will include and how they will break up in pairs The teacher will give each pair of students a choice of planets for their project.

  5. For the next thirty minutes the class will go to the library. The librarian will show them the shelves where they can locate books about the Solar System. The class will choose a book on their predetermined planet. They will take a picture walk while the teacher will circulate around the room to observe the categories he/she has chosen for their rubric.

Day Two:

  1. For the first thirty minutes the teacher will begin the lesson by reading, "The Magic School Bus: Sees Stars."

  2. The teacher will review the first three planets and continue to give information, on the SMART Board, for the next three planets: Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

  3. The class will then go to the computer lab for thirty minutes. A technician will be there to help the class go to predetermined websites (see below). These websites are to help students get pictures and information on the planet they have selected.

  4. The class will be taught how to respect and use the printer. In pairs, they will print out their planet picture.

  5. During the computer time students will take notes to help them with their written paper on the planets (this will be done in their Astronaut Log). The technician and teacher will walk around the room to lend assistance to pairs who need some extra help.

  6. When students have finished printing their planet pictures, and have taken sufficient notes they will be allowed to play planet video games by NASA.

Day Three:

  1. For the first thirty minutes the teacher will begin the lesson by reading, "The Magic School Bus: Out of This World."

  2. The teacher will review the first six planets and give the class information on the SMART Board about the last two planets: Uranus, Neptune.

  3. The class will be given thirty minutes to work, first, on their research paper then on their planet posters. The teacher will continue observing group dynamics.

Day Four:

  1. For the first thirty minutes the teacher will review the eight planets, and the teacher will have two "planet games" for the class to play on the SMART Board, for review.

  2. The teacher will then give the class their post-test.

  3. Each group will take the last thirty minutes to finish their poster. The teacher will walk around to observe how the dynamics of pairs work.

Day Five:

  1. For the first thirty minutes students will practice their presentation.

  2. The last thirty minutes the class will present, in pairs, their posters. The class will invite the other classes to watch the presentations.

  3. After the presentations, students will take pictures of their groups and partners. We will put the posters and camera pictures in the foyer of the school, for recognition.



  • Rubric for partner work, writing assignment and for computer time
  • Observations
  • Pre-test, post-test (same test)
  • Presentations
  • Computer Rubric.docx
  • Solar System Pre-Test.docx
  • Solar System Post-Test.docx
  • Collaboration Rubric.docx
  • Research Rubric.pdf
  • Student Work

    • Students will work in pairs in the computer lab to create a report about a specific planet and print their picture.
    • Students will watch video clip of the universe and the planets on the SMART Board.
    • Students will individually play video games that have to do with planets created by NASA.
    • Students will each take a digital picture of their partners with their projects.
    • Students will present posters to other second grade classes.
    • Students will watch a video, "The Magic School Bus Space Adventures"
    • Space Ship Template.docx
    • Astronaut Log.docx




    Instructional/Environment Modifications

    To accommodate students that are having trouble with any of the activities, the teacher will provide visuals (such as picture books or videos by computer) to help them understand. If they are still having difficulty the teacher will work one-on-one with the child.

    While in the computer lab the teacher had access to a student helper to help the students stay on task. In the library, the librarian helped the students find the areas for their planet books.

    This experience can be adapted to older students by having additional websites as well as more characteristics of the planet.

    Reflections and Feedback

    This lesson was exciting to the class. They liked the websites that were given to them. They had a hard time navigating the computer. Once they were comfortable, they could flip between planets and look at all of them. The amount of time given for the project worked out well. I found that I had planned the length of time correctly because they needed more time than I had first anticipated so I lengthened the time. The writing began with a rough draft at the computers and then a final draft back at the classroom. The students did an excellent job finding other useful materials in the Library to enhance their report. Presentations were a little awkward. The students haven't been in front of the room to present before, so we practiced for a couple of times before anyone joined the class to observe. The students mainly enjoyed putting their posters in the foyer of the school. They were proud of their work.


    This unit can be used for grades 2-5 This project was done by 2nd graders. You can adapt this material to higher grades you may want to ask for more detail in the writing of each planet. Each child may include numerous facts on each planet. The selection of books should be more mature for higher grades. Your rubric may be more age appropriate. The games on your SMART Board should be more age appropriate.

    Vocabulary Words

    Distance, Gravity, Kilometers, Solar System, Rotates, Dwarf, Planet, Moon, Rings, Matter.

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