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Sky 1 Objects in the Sky

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									Sky 1: Objects in the Sky

Purpose

To observe and describe what the sky looks like at different times; to identify objects in the sky and
recognize changes over time; to look for objects that are common to the daytime and nighttime sky.


Context

This lesson is part of a four-lesson series in which students observe the daytime and nighttime sky regularly
to identify sequences of changes and to look for patterns in these changes. At the K-2 level, learning about
objects in the sky should be entirely observational and qualitative. The priority is to get students noticing and
describing what objects in the sky look like at different times. (Benchmarks for Science Literacy, p. 62.)

The sun, moon, stars, clouds, birds, and airplanes all have properties, locations, and movements that can be
observed and described. Ideally, students should engage in direct observation of both the daytime and
nighttime sky throughout this lesson series. However, the recommended Internet resources can be helpful to
enhance student experiences, or if opportunities for direct observation are limited. This investigation requires
that observations be ongoing, so that students can look for patterns over time. As children become more
familiar with objects in the sky, they can be guided to observe changes, such as night and day and the
seasons.

In this first lesson, students will investigate objects in the daytime and nighttime sky. This investigation
should be confined to observations, descriptions, and finding patterns. Attempting to extend this
understanding into explanations using models will be limited by the inability of young children to understand
that earth is approximately spherical. Children at this age also have little understanding of gravity and
usually have misconceptions about the properties of light that allow us to see objects such as the moon.
(Benchmarks for Science Literacy, p. 336.) Thus, these topics should be avoided.

In Sky 2: Shadows, students explore making shadows and tracking the movement of an object over the
course of a day.

In Sky 3: Modeling Shadows, students construct models to demonstrate their understanding of shadows.

Sky 4: The Moon has students drawing the moon's shape for each evening on a calendar and then
determining the pattern in the shapes over several weeks.

Ideas in these lessons are also related to concepts found in the following benchmark:

        11C Common Themes: Constancy and Change (K-2) #1




Planning Ahead

This lesson involves the observation of daytime and nighttime sky. It is important to remind students of the
danger of looking directly at the sun.

Materials:

        Daytime Sky student sheet
        Nighttime Sky student sheet
        What Objects Do You See in the Sky? assessment sheet
Motivation

Do a brainstorming activity with students using a prompt like: "Words that come to mind when I think of the
sky." You can choose to have students write these words individually, or you can record the group's
thoughts at the front of the room, or students can simply call out the words with no recording.


Development

Have students go outside to observe the daytime sky, reminding them of the danger of looking directly at the
sun. You can take advantage of the opportunity to discuss the importance of detailed observations, and
continue to encourage these once back inside.

Ask students:

        What objects do you see?
        Are any of these objects moving? Describe how they are moving.
        Which of these objects do you think you would be able to see at night?

Have students create a journal page, documenting their observations in words and pictures. The Science
NetLinks student sheet Daytime Sky is available for this purpose. Allow students ample time to share their
illustrations, or bind them into a class book to read aloud and leave in the classroom library. Lead students
in a discussion of how they think the sky's objects will change over time.

Ask students:

        What do you think will still be in the sky tonight?
        What do you think will still be in the sky tomorrow?




Have students complete a follow-up activity at home, this time documenting objects in the evening or
nighttime sky. Again, have students complete a journal entry based on their observations. You may wish to
have students use the Science NetLinks student sheet Nighttime Sky. Allow students ample time to discuss
their findings, noting differences due to times at which they observed the sky. Discuss which objects were
seen in both the daytime and nighttime sky. This could be repeated for several days, encouraging students
to realize constancy and change. For example, take the students outside at different times, in different
conditions, etc. Have students draw pictures of objects overhead relative to objects on the ground.


Assessment

In order to summarize Objects in the Sky, as well as make the distinction between daytime and nighttime
objects, have students complete the Science NetLinks assessment sheet What Objects Do You See in the
Sky? Here, students are asked to draw, and if appropriate label, objects that might be seen in the daytime or
nighttime sky. Also, students can revisit the list generated in the Motivation exercise and modify the words
that come to mind when they think of the sky. They can include the names of various objects in the sky, as
well as some descriptive characteristics.


Extensions
Follow this lesson with the other lessons in the Sky series:

        Sky 2: Shadows
        Sky 3: Modeling Shadows
        Sky 4: The Moon
Sky 2: Shadows

Purpose

To investigate shadows, using literature-based discussion as well as experiences with manipulating
shadows.


Context

This lesson is part of a four-lesson series in which students observe the daytime and nighttime sky regularly
to identify sequences of changes and to look for patterns in these changes. At the K-2 level, learning about
objects in the sky should be entirely observational and qualitative. The priority is to get students noticing and
describing what objects in the sky look like at different times. (Benchmarks for Science Literacy, p. 62.)

The sun, moon, stars, clouds, birds, and airplanes all have properties, locations, and movements that can be
observed and described. Ideally, students should engage in direct observation of both the daytime and
nighttime sky throughout this lesson series. However, the recommended Internet resources can be helpful to
enhance student experiences, or if opportunities for direct observation are limited. This investigation requires
that observations be ongoing, so that students can look for patterns over time. As children become more
familiar with objects in the sky, they can be guided to observe changes, such as nigh and day and the
seasons.

In Sky 1: Objects in the Sky, students investigated objects in the daytime and nighttime sky.

In this lesson, students will explore making shadows and tracking the movement of an object over the
course of a day to look for patterns. It is best to couple this shadow activity with reading the book, Bear
Shadow, and making a map of Bear's neighborhood when the sun is relatively high in the sky, either near
the beginning or the end of the school year. You'll want to measure sun shadows at least twice and perhaps
three or four times during the year to see how they vary with the time of year.

In Sky 3: Modeling Shadows, students construct models to demonstrate their understanding of shadows.

Sky 4: The Moon has students drawing the moon's shape for each evening on a calendar and then
determining the pattern in the shapes over several weeks.

Ideas in this lesson are also related to concepts found in the following benchmark:

        4A The Physical Setting: the Universe (K-2) #2




Planning Ahead

Materials for Making Shadows:

        large pieces of chalk paper
        soap bubble solution
        bubble blowers
        pencils
        markers
        paints
        various objects such as hoops, lace, balls, etc.

Materials for Tracking Shadows:

        yardstick
        large coffee can of soil or stones
        large, flat sheet of cardboard, posterboard, or other heavy paper (at least 2' x 3')
        marker
        compass




Motivation
Either individually or as a participatory exercise, you and the students should read Bear Shadow by Frank
Asch and discuss. In this story, a bear attempts to escape a shadow that seems to be chasing him. If this
will be the introduction to a study of shadows, with particular emphasis on those caused by the sun, spend
time finding out what students already know about shadows. You might guide this discussion by asking
questions such as:

        What do you know about shadows that makes the book funny?
        Why did Bear's shadow disappear when he hid behind a tree?
        Why did the shadow disappear when he buried it?
        What makes a sun shadow fall one direction at one time and another direction earlier or later in the
         day?
        What other questions do you have about shadows?

Use the responses to help the children shape activities through which they will discover the answers to their
questions.

If you have already begun the study of shadows and have measured sun shadows at least once, your
discussion of Bear Shadow can be more pointed. In addition to the kinds of questions above, you can, for
example, discuss the time of day when the various events occur and the direction Bear's shadow will fall at
these times.


Development
Investigating Shadows
Eyes on the Sky, Feet on the Ground: Hands on Astronomy Activities for Kids, offers various astronomy
topics and activities. Under The Earth's Rotation, read Activity 1-1: Making Shadows, and complete the
suggested activities with students. Here, students use different objects and angles to create, trace, and
manipulate shadows. This activity includes a thorough list of discussion questions, as well as ideas for
extending a study of shadows. In addition to the questions included in the lesson, ask students:

        How can you "make" a shadow?
        What is the light source?
        How is the shadow similar to the object you used to make it? How is it different?
        How can you change the size of your shadow?
        How can you change the shape of your shadow?
        How can you change the position of your shadow?




In Activity 1-2: Tracking Sun Shadows, also found on The Earth's Rotation page, students use a yardstick
and coffee can full of stones to create a shadowstick. Students visit the shadowstick throughout the day,
taking periodic measurements by tracing the line of the shadow and marking the time of day. Encourage
students to begin making predictions about where the shadow might fall next. This activity can also be
conducted as an indoor activity for small groups, using a drinking straw and clay. Full instructions and list of
materials for both activities can be found at the site.

Follow the activities given at the site, but instead of just marking a point at the end of each shadow, draw the
full line from the center of the posterboard to the end of the shadow. (These lines will be helpful when
students are later asked to measure the shadows.) Each time students visit the shadowstick in the course of
the day, ask them to compare the new shadow line to those drawn previously: Has it changed? How has it
changed?

At the end of the day, bring the posterboard inside. Have student volunteers measure the distance from the
center of the board (where the lines cross) to the end of each shadow line using cubes. Use the cubes to
create a bar graph that represents the length of the shadows at the various times observed.

Ask students:

        What does the graph look like?
        When is the shadow shortest?
        When is it longest?
        What do you notice about the lines? Does the pattern of the lines remind you of anything?




Assessment

Reread Bear Shadow. As a class, identify those aspects of the story that are purely fictional and those that
“could happen,” paying particular attention to how shadows change during the day. Compare the shadows in
Bear Shadow to those students made and tracked in the Development activities. You could revisit the
discussion questions listed in the Motivation, especially focusing on the last one, "What other questions do
you have about shadows?" You could spend time answering the students' questions, as well as generating
ones to be answered in the other lessons of this series.

As a class, create a nonfiction version of the story.


Extensions
Follow this lesson with the next lessons in the Sky series:

        Sky 3: Modeling Shadows
        Sky 4: The Moon


Sky 3: Modeling Shadows

Purpose

To demonstrate understanding of shadows by creating a physical model of concepts learned.


Context

This lesson is part of a four-lesson series in which students observe the daytime and nighttime sky regularly
to identify sequences of changes and to look for patterns in these changes. At the K-2 level, learning about
objects in the sky should be entirely observational and qualitative. The priority is to get students noticing and
describing what objects in the sky look like at different times. (Benchmarks for Science Literacy, p. 62.)

The sun, moon, stars, clouds, birds, and airplanes all have properties, locations, and movements that can be
observed and described. Ideally, students should engage in direct observation of both the daytime and
nighttime sky throughout this lesson series. However, the recommended Internet resources can be helpful to
enhance student experiences, or if opportunities for direct observation are limited. This investigation requires
that observations be ongoing, so that students can look for patterns over time. As children become more
familiar with objects in the sky, they can be guided to observe changes, such as nigh and day and the
seasons.
In Sky 1: Objects in the Sky, students investigated objects in the daytime and nighttime sky.

In Sky 2: Shadows, students explored making shadows and tracking the movement of an object over the
course of a day to look for patterns.

In this lesson, students will construct models to demonstrate their understanding of shadows. Many
questions and suggestions for variants on the activities are presented to allow you to tailor this lesson to
your particular needs. It is best to make the map of Bear's neighborhood when the sun is relatively high in
the sky, either near the beginning or the end of the school year. You'll want to measure the sun shadows
with students at least twice, and perhaps three or four times during the year, to see how they vary with the
time of year.

Sky 4: The Moon has students drawing the moon's shape for each evening on a calendar and then
determining the pattern in the shapes over several weeks.

Ideas in this lesson are also related to concepts found in the following benchmark:

        4A 11C Common Themes: Constancy and Change (K-2) #1




Planning Ahead

Review the activity used in the Development section to determine which type of model your students will
construct. Gather the required materials, and prepare to do the activity in the conditions described.

Materials:

        Bear Shadow by Frank Asch


Select one (or more) of the following models:

    1.   One-dimensional map/model:

                a large sheet of paper or poster board
                pencils, crayons, and markers
    2.   Three dimensional map/model:

                some appropriate area in the classroom
                cardboard
                scissors
                glue
                tape
                pencils, crayons, and markers
                a bright lamp
    3.   Outdoor three-dimensional map/model:

                 an appropriate place on the school grounds
                 larger pieces of cardboard
                 scissors
                 glue
                 tape
                 pencils, crayons, and markers
                 any additional material students can use to create landmarks like the tree, Bear's house,
                  and so on




Motivation

If you wish, reread Bear Shadow by Frank Asch and discuss.

You should have completed Shadows, the second Science NetLinks lesson in this series, or have measured
sun shadows in some other context, so your discussion can be more pointed. You can, for example, discuss
the time of day when the various events occur, and the direction in which the Bear's shadow will fall at these
times.




Development

Divide students into groups of 3-4. Each group will make a 3-D model of the neighborhood where Bear lives.
The map/model should show clearly which direction is north, either with an arrow on a map or by orienting a
three-dimensional model correctly with respect to the actual directions. Be sure the map/model includes:

        Bear's house
        the pond where he went fishing
        the brook he jumped over
        the tree he hid behind
        the cliff he climbed
        the place where he tried to nail the shadow to the ground
        the place where he dug the hole to bury the shadow

One-dimensional map/model:

The simplest way for children to construct their maps/models is to draw them on paper, but this is also the
most abstract and demands a great deal of transfer from the observational world of shadows cast by real
objects on real surfaces to imagining an object drawn on paper casting a shadow. This approach should be
used with older children who have had some previous experience drawing maps of such places as their
homes, their school, or a small neighborhood. The added difficulty of mapping an imaginary neighborhood,
where the only clues to the relative positions of things are the shadows that they cast or are cast upon them,
is substantial.




Three-dimensional map/model:

An easier approach is to construct the imaginary neighborhood in the classroom. You can create a three-
dimensional model by making a tree, a cliff, and a house that stand up and using a doll or other model for
Bear. Now, by turning out the lights and using a bright lamp to represent the sun, the model can be checked
to see how faithfully it represents the neighborhood shown in the book. The degree of abstraction is smaller,
but the motion of the sun is only simulated, so some children, especially younger ones, might not really see
the connections between this mapping activity and measuring sun shadows.
Outdoor three-dimensional map/model:

For young children, it's almost imperative to construct the neighborhood/model out of doors where the
position of the sun and the sky is determined by the rotation of the earth, its tilt, and its location in its yearly
circuit of the sun, so it does not have to be simulated. Students will have to check their map/model several
times during the day to be sure it represents the neighborhood shown in the book.




If a map is simply drawn on paper, each group should prepare its own map and then present it to the whole
class, with arguments for the choices made. When there are differences between and among groups,
discuss whether each map is a valid representation; that is, it explains the pictures shown in the book. Any
map that does this is "correct." Since the locations of most of the features relative to one another aren't
determined by the pictures, students will have valid reasons for choosing quite different arrangements. This
is a valuable lesson. There is not always one correct solution to a problem; several different ones may
explain the data that are available.

For the three-dimensional models, one approach would be to assign each group a feature to place on the
model (after a site for the pond is chosen). When all of the features have been placed, each group can
explain the reasoning that led them to their placement. Again, there may be disagreements and the criterion
for "correctness" is whether the placement explains the pictures in the book. As preparation for the
mapping/modeling activity, there are several questions that might be posed to all the students, or to the
groups, either to answer "immediately" or to direct thinking during the map/model construction. Some of
these might be used as part of your assessment of the children's understanding of what has been done
and/or their attentiveness to the details of the book and their reasoning from it. In all cases, the response to
a question should contain an explanation of how the answer was obtained, not just the answer itself.

        At what time of the year does the story happen?
        At what time of day did Bear go out to fish?
        At what time of day did Bear try to nail shadow to the ground?
        At what time of day did Bear try to bury the shadow?
        How long did Bear nap?
        How many windows are there in Bear's house?
        Which direction does the door of Bear's house face?
        How are the pictures that show the passage of time while Bear naps like your measurements of
         shadows (from previous lesson)?
        How are the pictures that show the passage of time while Bear naps different from your
         measurements of shadows (from previous lesson)?
        What other questions can you answer?




Assessment

Allow groups to share their models with the class. Ask students to explain what is portrayed and what is not
portrayed. How is the model like the "real" thing? How could the model be improved? If they could use any
materials at all, what would they do to make the model "better?"




Extensions

Follow this lesson with the final lesson in the Sky series:

        Sky 4: The Moon
There are many possible extensions that can build upon and enrich what has been done. Two such
extensions, depending on the interests of the children, are to learn and write more about bears (the lives of
real bears or more about Bear and other imaginary bears) and to learn and write more about shadows.
Based on further reading or what they have learned in the above activities, students should use what they
have learned as a basis for writing.

You can also use Bear Shadow to address Benchmark 5A The Living Environment: Diversity of Life (K-2)
#3: Stories sometimes give plants and animals attributes that they really do not have.

As children find out more about bears, ask them to reread the book and list ways that Bear behaves like a
real bear and ways he acts like a person, a child. Examine other books in the same way to help children
begin to make distinctions between "true" books and imaginative writing or fiction. Such examinations could
be the basis for expository writing by the children, or they may write and illustrate their own story about
bears and shadows or both. Cubs Corner (the kids' page of The American Bear Association website) is a
good resource for young children who wish to learn more about bears. Another useful resource is the Idaho
Public Television's Dialogue for Kids on Bears, although the information provided there does have a state-
based perspective.


Sky 4: The Moon

Purpose

To observe and describe what the sky looks like at different times. To identify objects in the sky and
recognize changes in their appearance. To look for patterns and develop interpretations based on extended
observations.


Context

This lesson is part of a four-lesson series in which students observe the daytime and nighttime sky regularly
to identify sequences of changes and to look for patterns in these changes. At the K-2 level, learning about
objects in the sky should be entirely observational and qualitative. The priority is to get students noticing and
describing what objects in the sky look like at different times. (Benchmarks for Science Literacy, p. 62.)

The sun, moon, stars, clouds, birds, and airplanes all have properties, locations, and movements that can be
observed and described. Ideally, students should engage in direct observation of both the daytime and
nighttime sky throughout this lesson series. However, the recommended Internet resources can be helpful to
enhance student experiences, or if opportunities for direct observation are limited. This investigation requires
that observations be ongoing, so that students can look for patterns over time. As children become more
familiar with objects in the sky, they can be guided to observe changes, such as nigh and day and the
seasons.

In Sky 1: Objects in the Sky, students investigated objects in the daytime and nighttime sky.

In Sky 2: Shadows, students explored making shadows and tracking the movement of an object over the
course of a day to look for patterns.

In Sky 3: Modeling Shadows, students constructed models to demonstrate their understanding of shadows.

In this lesson, students will draw the moon's shape for each evening on a calendar and then determine the
pattern in the shapes over several weeks. Students' understandings should be confined to observations,
descriptions, and finding patterns. Attempting to extend this understanding into explanations using models
will be limited by the inability of young children to understand that earth is approximately spherical. Children
at this age also have little understanding of gravity and usually have misconceptions about the properties of
light that allow us to see objects such as the moon. (Benchmarks for Science Literacy, p. 336.) Thus, these
topics should be avoided.

Ideas in this lesson are also related to concepts found in the following benchmark:

        11C Common Themes: Constancy and Change (K-2) #1




Planning Ahead

Materials:

        a selection of Frank Asch's books, including Moongame




Motivation

To introduce a study of objects in the sky, choose a sampling of Frank Asch’s books. Asch’s books are
particularly appropriate for students at the K-2 level, and many of his books center around a young bear’s
attempt to make sense of his physical environment. In Moongame, for instance, the main character
interprets the moon’s apparent motion in the sky as its attempt to play hide and seek.


Development
Finding Patterns: Lunar Phases
Create a large classroom calendar for documenting changes in the moon’s appearance. Have students
observe or sketch the moon each evening, or assign the task to one or more students each night. Post a
student sketch on the calendar each day so that students can see the changes in the moon’s appearance
over the course of the month.

If students are unable to observe the nighttime sky themselves, they can visit Virtual Reality Moon Phase
Pictures from the United States Naval Observatory.

If possible, continue this activity for at least two months. Have students look for patterns in the phases and
cycles of the moon. At this level, it is not necessary for students to name the moon’s phases, however some
basic vocabulary terms such as full moon and new moon can certainly be introduced. Encourage students to
use terminology such as, "We can see less of the moon" or "The moon looks/appears smaller" rather than
"The moon is smaller" or "The moon is getting smaller."




Engage in counting activities related to the phases of the moon. For example, over time you can have
students determine how many days there are until the new moon, how long it takes for the moon to appear
full again, or how many days it takes for the moon to complete its full cycle.


Assessment

Read Moongame by Frank Asch. As a class, identify those aspects of the story that are purely fictional and
those that “could happen,” paying particular attention to the references to objects in the sky.


Extensions
Go to Birthday Moons at the NASA/MSU-Bozeman CERES Project. Using the materials and resources
provided, students will be able to identify and graph the moon phase of their birthdays.




BrainPop has a video clip related to the phases of the moon. This video presents concepts that are beyond
the scope of K-2, but you can pause the video at appropriate points and narrate yourself. Also, you may
wish to click through to "Show Phases of the Moon." The illustrations of the different phases of the moon can
be used to reinforce the idea that you can see less of the moon at certain times, but it is not getting smaller.

								
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