Lesson Plan

Solar System Explorers

Chicago common sense PLN
Jacqueline R.
Classroom teacher
James B. McPherson
Chicago, United States
Show More
My Grades 3
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Health & Wellness

Students will be able to…

Explain in their own words what an orbit is.

Describe gravity and gravitational pull.

Create an Educreation and restate facts about a planet of their choosing.

English Language Arts
Grades K – 3
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Show the “Solar System” video to the entire class, and then review the “Word Wall” together.

Student Instructions

Students then choose to take the Easy Quiz or Hard Quiz (Online Version) independently if they have access to their own machines, or they can do this together as a class, and raise their hand when done to show the teacher their understanding of the video (i.e. 4/5). For any remaining time, students can explore the “Solar System” activities, such as “Write About It,” “Draw About It,” “Activity,” “Belly Up,” and/or “Game.” If students have access to a printer, they can print one of the above activities.

2 Direct Instructions

Create student accounts on newsela.com and assign them to read the article "NASA finds 3 new planets where life could exist." Then, display/put up the three questions on the board and have students answer them in complete sentences on looseleaf paper. 

Student Instructions

Students will read and discuss the article and answer the quiz questions:

1. What is Kepler and why is it important?

2. What does it mean if a planet is a "habitable zone"?

3. How does the Kepler spacecraft work?


3 guided practice

 Introduce the website Wonderopolis and explain how to navigate the site to search for a wonder they are curious about related to the solar system.

Student Instructions

 Students will use the search tool with the keyword solar system and then choose a “wonder” based on their curiosity.  After watching the video they will then work through the activities: Wonder Words / Word Challenge, Try it Out, and Test Your Knowledge.

4 independent practice

Assign partners/small groups and choose a planet for each team to explore. Facilitate learning by going around to each team and ask probing/guiding questions such as: How far is it from the Earth? How big is it? Does it have any moons? What is the weather like?, etc. 

Student Instructions

Go to Britannica ( http://school.eb.com/ ) online to research facts about their planet. Once teams have 5 interesting facts about their planet (size, gravity, distance from Earth, etc.), use Nasa Eyes to get a visual sense of the sheer size and breadth of the Solar System.

5 Wrap up

Guide students to create an illustration of the solar system topic with an audio recording explaining it. For kinder you can limit this to one page and illustration while for third grade you may choose to have them add pictures from the photo library on several pages.

Student Instructions

Students open the app and draw a picture of the concept they are teaching to their classmates. They push the record button and describe the solar system idea.