Lesson Plan

Super Solar System

Earth and Space science using an inquiry approach (adapted from http://www.hometrainingtools.com/)
Merve L.
Director of Education Outreach Common Sense Education
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Students will be able to...

Demonstrate knowledge of the solar system by arranging spherical objects of different sizes in an order that represents the eight planets and the sun.

Present factual information about a designated planet based on research and facts.

Design a poster that shows the vastness of the solar system, by comparing one planet to another, the earth to the sun, the sun to other stars, etc.

Apply what they have learned about the characteristics of space, planets, and distance to plot their own planet in our solar system

Grades 3 – 5
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Activity: Exploring

Before the lesson, gather spherical items (that are safe for students to handle) such as a pebble, an orange, a basketball, a tennis ball etc. You should have around 10 items, with a large range between the smallest to largest.  Put the objects on a table and have students sort them from largest to smallest. What about heaviest to lightest? Ask questions like: Which object is the heaviest? Is that object also the biggest? How many times bigger is the largest object than the smallest object? How do you know? Note: for a large classroom, put the students in groups of 3-4 and give each group a container with around 10 objects of different sizes.

2 Explore

Tell the class that the sorting they just did is similar to how a scientist would classify the planets. We can sort the eight planets from biggest to smallest, from nearest to farthest from the sun, and by how much they weigh. Using Britannica Kids, explore the solar system and have students note the planets smallest to largest (write: Mercury, Mars, Venus, Earth, Uranus, Neptune, Saturn, Jupiter). While in groups have students work together to choose an object to represent each planet and the sun. What could you use to represent Mercury? How about Jupiter? Hint: Start small. Tell the students that if earth, which is not the smallest planet, was as big as this dot orange, then the sun would be about the size of a tennis ball. Give advice if needed, but let students use Britannica kids to work out the puzzle for themselves. When finished, each group should have nine objects that represent the solar system.

3 Guided Practice

Free to Try, Paid

Have students count off 1-9, or if you have many groups, have groups count off.  Once groups have their number, assign them a planet or the sun and instruct them to come up with 5 facts about their planet by using the Nasa App.  You should create a CorkboardMe site about solar systems, and share the link with students via email or somehwere in the classroom.  As a group students should decide which facts are most important to share with the class, and add quick notes on the Corkboard Me to compile information to be shared.  Once completed, student groups should share out the interesting facts about their planet or sun.  


4 Apply

As individuals, students should think about what kind of planet they would like to create if they were super heroes like Super Man. Where would it live in respect to the current solar system?  Apply attributes to the planet based on the information they might have learned about surrounding planets. For example, if they want a warm firey planet they might plug it around Mercury or Venus, but if they want a colder planet with swirling gas, it might live just behind Jupiter.  Ask students to sketch a rough map of the solar system and their super planet using the Paper app and have them pair and share with classmates around them.

5 Poster Wrap-up

Activity: Creating

Have students work with a partner to design a poster about the solar system. They can use the Nasa App or Britannica Kids to help them remember the interesting facts they learned. What is the name of their poster going to be? Will they showcase 1 super planet or 2?  Encourage students to apply intersting facts that they learned within the poster, especially why they chose to locate their super planets as they did.  When students have finished, have them present to the class. After presenting, hang up each poster around the classroom to remind the students about what they learned.