Created by Andrea Swanson, Naturalist
Grade Level: 3
Time: 4560 minutes
Month/Time of Year: Any time
State Standards Addressed:
§ 3.I.A The student will understand the use of science as a tool to examine the natural world.
§ 3.III.C The student will understand the characteristics and relationships of objects in the solar
· Benchmark: The student will recognize the difference between rotation and revolution and their
connection to day, night, seasons and the year.
· Benchmark: The student will identify the planets in the solar system and their relative sizes,
distances and basic characteristics.
· Benchmark: The student will observe that the sun supplies heat and light to the earth.
· Benchmark: The student will know that planets look like stars, but over time they move
differently than stars.
· Students will know that the earth and the other planets revolve around the sun in differing amounts of time.
· Students will know that the earth and the other planets rotate on their axis’ in differing amounts of time.
· Students will know that there are eight planets and one dwarf planet in our solar system.
· Star Lab
· Pictures of planets.
· Light Box from Star Lab or a bright flashlight.
· Set up Star Lab according to instructions.
· Go over the behavior expectations for being in the star lab.
1. Review rotation and revolution from lessons taught in previous lesson.
2. Review the names of the planets in order from the sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn,
Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. Ask, “What do you know about any of the planets?”
3. Hand a student a picture of the planet Mercury. Have student read some information about that planet:
distance from the sun, time it takes to revolve around the sun, number of moons, temperatures, etc.
Repeat with each of the planets.
4. Using the Solar System cylinder, review each of the planets.
5. Using the Night Sky cylinder, set up the night sky as it would be currently. You can download a current
monthly star map that shows the night sky with planets at http://www.skymaps.com/downloads.html.
Discuss the differences between planets and stars in the night sky. (Planets reflect the suns’ light rather
than produce their own light and heat. They move in the night sky differently. They are smaller than
stars.) Show how planets move differently than stars per instructions in the Star Lab curriculum. (See
6. Show some of the constellations that they are familiar with. Review the circumpolar (Ursa Major, Ursa
Minor, Cassiopeia, Cepheus) and winter constellations (Orion, Taurus, Canis Major). Introduce new
constellations for the current season using the Star Lab curriculum.
7. Have students observe the night sky in the star lab with the astronomy music playing in the background.
Invite them to wonder about the stars and the universe.
· Encourage students to go outside and look for the planets that are out in the night sky.
· Put Star Lab away according to instructions.
· The earth revolving around the sun showing the seasons.
· Planets revolving around the sun.
Planet Diameter Distance Number Temp. Interesting Facts
from Sun of
Mercury 3,000 miles 2741 million None 800 F/350 · Craters
miles C in sun
300 F in
Venus 7,200 miles 65 million None 900 F/ · Constantly covered
miles 480 C with clouds of sulfuric
Earth 7,600 miles 93 million 1 65 F/ · Covered mostly with
miles 22 C water and supports life
as we know it.
Mars 4,070 miles 137 million 2 23 C · Red planet
Jupiter 85,788 miles 466 million At least 63 150 C · Gas planet made up of
miles hydrogen and helium.
· Large red spot which
is a storm
· 1,300 earths could fit
Saturn 86,000 miles 856 million At least 34 180 C · Rings of frozen ice as
miles big as icebergs.
· Gas planet
Uranus 32,000 miles 1.8 billion At least 29 210 C · Rings
miles · Tilted on its side.
· Gas planet
Neptune 31,000 miles 2.8 billion At least 13 220 C · Aqua in color with a
miles dark blue spot.
· Gas planet
Pluto 1427 miles 3.6 billion 3 230 C · Dwarf planet.