Lesson Plan

To Our Solar System and Beyond

Creative Ways to Analyze and Explain Predictable Patterns in the Solar System
Emily S.
Technology coordinator
Holly Hills Elementary School
Denver, CO
Show More
My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies
EdTech Mentor

Students analyze predictable patterns involving the Earth, moon, sun, and other observable objects in the sky to create a product that creatively incorporates scientific explanations about the solar system.


World Class Outcomes:

  • Analyze the interaction within and between two systems
  • Classify patterns using models

Enduring Understanding:

  • Patterns impact systems

Essential Question:

  • How does studying cycles help us to understand natural processes?

  • What do the predictable patterns involving the Earth, moon, sun, and other observable objects in the sky tell us about the solar system?

  • What is Earth’s place in the Solar System?

Grades 4
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Pre-Planning

1. This is an entire unit that will take approximately 3 - 4 weeks. Use common curriculum to build this unit and set up individual lessons within the unit. You can also collaborate on it with other teachers within common curriculum. 

2. Start saving useful links, info, and resources for this unit by creating your own task library using Thinglink. Click here for a solar system task library for teachers. Set up a task library for students using Thinglink as well. Include helpful resources in the task library for students to explore before they begin collecting their own information. (resource suggestions are included in this app flow)

3. Create an account with Newsela. Newsela provides non-fiction articles about current events at a variety of reading levels allowing you to differentiate for your students. It assesses student understanding of the article through quizzes based on Common Core standards. You can assign articles for students within Newsela that relate to the solar system.

2 Hook

Angry Birds Space
Free, Free to Try, Paid
Free, Paid

Begin by asking students:

Have you ever played Angry Birds? 

Have you ever played Angry Birds in Space?

What do you already know about space that will help you predict the challenges you will face when playing Angry Birds in Space?

1. Create a KWL using Popplet and record what students already know and can predict about the game. 

2. Let students play Angry Birds in Space. (There is an atmosphere, a gravitational pull)

3. On the KWL popplet, fill in what students learned after playing Angry Birds in Space or questions they have about things that happened during the game. What scientific principles about space changed the game?

3 Direct Instruction

Free, Paid

Teach students how to conduct online research, find credible sources from which to gather research, and give credit to those sources. Common Sense Media offers some helpful resources for teaching these online strategies.

Click here for 'The Key to Key Words (3 - 5)'
Click here for 'Whose Is It, Anyway? (3 - 5)'
Click here for 'How to Cite a Site (3 - 5)'
Click here for a digital resource to accompany 'How to Cite a Site' created using Narrable.

Essential Question: 

What do the predictable patterns between the Earth, moon, sun, and other observable objects in the sky tell us about the solar system?

Students need to create a task library using thinglink to collect research, articles, and pictures about the solar system that will answer the essential question. With thinglink, students can organize their information by linking different resources within a picture of the topic. Click here for an example. Show students how they can link specific research from these sites to the thinglink task library, as well as type notes on thinglink about what they have learned.

Note: Students can also collaborate on a thinglink task library by changing the settings to 'anyone can edit,' and changing the image visibility to 'unlisted.' Then share it with all group members. (Once the task library is complete, you may want to change the setting back to 'public' and take away the ability for others to edit.)

4 Guided Practice

With guided instruction based on the lessons given during direct instruction, students can begin their research on the essential question using these resources: NASA's Space Place, Galaxy Zoo, Google Sky, NASA: Solar System Exploration, Journey North, Sky Safari, and NASA Kids' Club. 

5 Independent Practice

Students continue to research and collect information for their solar system task library independently.

Students read articles at their reading level about the solar system, which have been assigned to them using Newsela (in the pre-planning stage).

Extension: Have students download the article from Newsela, and import it into skitch where they can highlight important information and take notes. Click here for an example. (Note: If you are using the free version of skitch, students will need to re-save the article as a .png file and import it into skitch. To do this, click file--duplicate--file--save or save as--change pdf to .png.)

Students can also collect more information and images to save to their thinglink task library with PBS LearningMedia, Discovery Education, DIY Sun Science, and Britannica Kids: Solar System.

6 Interim Assessment

To show their synthesis of the learning in their task library, the class will collaboratively create an ABC book of predictable patterns involving the Earth, moon, sun, and other observable objects in the sky. Each individual or small group will be responsible for creating a page about the solar system that begins with a different letter in the alphabet.

21st cenutry tool suggestions for creating an ABC book about the solar system:

  • Thinglink
  • Book Creator
  • iMovie
  • Explain Everything
  • Narrable
  • Adobe Voice
  • Zooburst

7 Wrap-up: Summative Project

Students analyze predictable patterns involving the Earth, moon, sun, and other observable objects in the sky to create a product that creatively incorporates scientific explanations about the solar system.  The product will display a problem that will predict what would happen to the seasons of Earth or other patterns in the solar system if a part is missing.


  • Write a fable about why there are seasons on Earth incorporating real scienctific explanations in the problem and solution
  • Create a game (such as Angry Birds in Space) that incorporates real scientifc principles
  • Write a play with a problem and solution that incorporates real scientific explanations about the solar system
  • Movie trailer for The Core: The core of the Earth has stopped spinning, and the government is trying to get it restarted. You are a government official that must warn people of the dangers they face using the emergency broadcast system. 
  • Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs trailer: Flint was an inventor that discovered how to convert water into food in the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Create your own movie trailer about an inventor who used the phases of the moon in an invention that created a problem in the solar system.
  • Deep Impact/Armageddon (I recommend editing these movie trailers using weavly.com before sharing with students): You are a scientst that has just discovered an asteroid that is headed straight for Earth. You must create a presentation for the President of the United States describing the size of the asteroid, where it will hit the Earth, and what kind of damage it will cause. You must convince the President to take action that will stop the asteroid from hitting Earth and save mankind.

Students identify the best 21st century tool to create and present their project.


  • Flip Boom animation
  • Narrable
  • iMovie
  • Book Creator
  • Educreations
  • Adobe Voice
  • Zooburst
  • Simplebooklet