Going Around the Sun

The total eclipse of the full moon last week got us all looking up into the night sky. Build on this exciting current event by exploring the solar system with your students.

GOING_COVER-1The vastness of space can be daunting for young children (and adults!) to understand. How big is the earth compared to the sun? How far is 3 trillion miles anyway? Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun introduces children to the solar system with rhyme and movement. After reading the book, create a model using everyday objects to illustrate the sizes of planets and their distances from the sun. Conclude your exploration of space with an Art activity that transforms STEM to STEAM. After all, it took incredible imagination and creativity to get a human to walk on the moon.

LESSON PLAN: Going Around the Sun
The basis of following lesson is the book Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun. The lesson is divided into three parts and may be done over two or three days. However, each part is a meaningful stand-alone lesson.

Suggested Grade Level: K-3

PART ONE—Size it!

  • The book Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun by Marianne Berkes
  • Long roll of paper
  • Large pumpkin, about 60 inches in diameter,
  • Additional fruits and vegetables in a bowl: pea, grape, radish, blueberry cantaloupe grapefruit, orange, small peach or plum.

Procedure: Explain that models help us understand information more clearly. For example, the sun is 864,938 miles in diameter the earth is 7,900 miles in diameter. Tell students that as a class they will work together to create a model of the planets’ sizes using fruits and vegetables. Follow these complete directions.

PART TWO—Distance It
Materials: Large roll of toilet paper

Procedure: Now that students know the order of the planets and their relative sizes, the next step in the model is to show how far away they are from the sun. You’ll need a large enough space to unroll 280 sheets of toilet paper. Follow these complete directions.

Materials: crayons, paper, aluminum foil, griddle
Procedure: Artist Janeen Mason used a simple melted crayon art technique to create the illustrations for the book. Scroll down to page 2 of this pdf to see how she did it and then have your students create their own “far out” designs.

Common Core Standards (ELA K-3)

  • ELA Reading Informational Text: Key Ideas and Details (K.1, 1.1, 2.1, 3.1); Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)

Next Generation Science Standards (DCI grade 1)

  • ESS1.A:The Universe and Its Stars
  • ESS1:B: The Earths Place in the Solar System


subscribe     Blog by Carol Malnor I love making connections: kids and nature, science and reading, fun and learning. I discovered the joy of connecting Dawn Publications' books with kids when I was a classroom teacher. Dawn's books were easy to incorporate into my lessons and the kids loved them. I used picture books with students of all ages, from primary school all the way up through 9th grade. Over the years, my relationship with Dawn changed and developed, and I authored Dawn’s Teacher’s Guides as well as writing books for children 4-14 years old. ARTICLE How to Use Creative Nonfiction Picture Books in Support of Common Core and Science ACTIVITIES Dawn Publications STANDARDS Common Core State Standards Next Generation Science Standards National Science Teachers Association Picture Perfect Science   OTHER FAVORITES Dawn Publications Children and Nature Network
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