Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Unit Resource Portfolio: Sound

Sound is all around us.  We can hear it and we can produce it, but can we see it?  As we may not be able to see the energy traveling through the air from the source to our ears, we are able to see the affects that sound vibrations have on our world.  The following unit plan will cover two weeks of instruction where the students will engage in meaningful hand's on activities designed to make a personal connection between their experiences and the unseen presence of sound waves.  We will explore sound vibrations, sound waves, pitch, tone, amplification, how sound travels through different media, how sound can be seen and measured, how sound is received , processed, and re-transmitted through everyday communication.  We will compare and contrast how humans and animals use sounds to communicate (sonar: bats, whales, dolphins).

Virginia Standards of Learning
5.2 The student will investigate and understand how sound is created and transmitted, and how it is used. Key concepts include
a)    compression waves;
b)    vibration, compression, wavelength, frequency, amplitude;
c)    the ability of different media (solids, liquids, and gases) to transmit sound; and
d)    uses and applications of sound waves.

Understanding the Standard (Background Information for Instructor Use Only)
  • Sound is a form of energy produced and transmitted by vibrating matter.
  • Sound waves are compression (longitudinal) waves.
  • When compression (longitudinal) waves move through matter (solid, liquid, or a gas), the molecules of the matter move backward and forward in the direction in which the wave is traveling. As sound waves travel, molecules are pressed together in some parts (compression) and in some parts are spread out (rarefaction). A child’s toy in the form of a coil is a good tool to demonstrate a compression (longitudinal) wave.
  • The frequency of sound is the number of wavelengths in a given unit of time.
  • The wavelength of sound is the distance between two compressions or between two rarefactions. 
  • The wavelength can be measured from any point on a wave as long as it is measured to the same point on the next wave.
  • When we talk, sound waves travel in air. Sound also travels in liquids and solids. Sound waves must have a medium through which to travel.
  • In a vacuum sound cannot travel because there is no matter for it to move through.
  • Pitch is determined by the frequency of a vibrating object. Objects vibrating faster have a higher pitch than objects vibrating slower.
  • A change in frequency of sound waves causes an audible sensation—a difference in pitch.
  • Amplitude is the amount of energy in a compression (longitudinal) wave and is related to intensity and volume. For example, when a loud sound is heard, it is because many molecules have been vibrated with much force. A soft sound is made with fewer molecules being vibrated with less force.
  • Sound travels more quickly through solids than through liquids and gases because the molecules of a solid are closer together. Sound travels the slowest through gases because the molecules of a gas are farthest apart.
  • Some animals make and hear ranges of sound vibrations different from those that humans can make and hear.
  • Musical instruments vibrate to produce sound. There are many different types of musical instruments and each instrument causes the vibrations in different ways. The most widely accepted way to classify musical instruments is to classify them by the way in which the sound is produced by the instrument. The four basic classifications are percussion instruments (e.g., drums, cymbals), stringed instruments (e.g., violin, piano, guitar), wind instruments (e.g., flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone), and electronic instruments (e.g., electronic organ, electric guitar).

Day 1 – Introduction to Sound Waves SOL 5.2a
Objectives - Students will:
  • Recognize that sound is energy that travels on invisible waves.
  • Explain the relationship between frequency and pitch
  • Demonstrate that frequency is dependent on the amplitude of the vibration at the source of the sound.
To begin my lesson on sound, I first need to introduce and describe what a wave is. I will begin by asking the students what they already know about sound. Next, I will ask them if they had ever been to the beach and watched the waves come in. (if yes, I would ask if the waves are always the same or are they different at times? (How are they different – height, frequency). I would use this as an introduction to waves by making a comparison between ocean waves and sound waves. A detailed description of the discussion can be found at Describing Sound Waves by Comparing to Ocean Waves

The students will complete wave diagrams (to be put in their notebooks), labeling, matching vocabulary terms to their meanings.

Day 2 – Waves, Wavelength SOL 5.2a

Objectives: Students will:
  • Create models to explain how sound is formed, how it affect matter, and how it travels
We will start class with a funny spoof from Bill Science Guy Bill Nye The Science Guy: "Sound is a Vibe" video. Prior to this video, the teacher will distribute vocabulary check lists and instruct the students to conduct a Think-Pair-Share with their pre-assigned partner and mark off the term that they are familiar with then share their meaning for identified term that differ with their partner.
Then show the YouTube video shot at the Virginia Museum of Science. Science of Sound Video

The vocabulary checklist extends to this video as well. This video will describe in detail the meanings of the definitions and conceptual ideas. The students will resume their pairings and discuss any new understandings. After 5 minutes, we will open this up to a class sharing.

Far assessment, students will begin a KWL chart in their student journal notebook to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts of sound .

We will wrap up the lesson with a Simple Phone Sound Experiment by making predictions and recording observations.

Days 3 & 4 – Sound Waves and Our Environment SOL 5.2a,c
Objectives: Students will
  • Evaluate how the human body (ears, voice box) receive and transmit sound waves
  • Compare and contrast the sounds (voice) that humans hear to that of animals. This includes bats, dogs, and whales.
The students should understand that sound is energy that travels in invisible waves, as well as, vibrations and mediums before the following activity. They should understand that when a vibration travels through the air and into our ear canal it vibrates the eardrum, and they should understand that the vibrations of our vocal chords create our voice.

We will continue with the KWL chart from yesterday on what they think they know about sound then transition to 6 different stations where the students will observe and record their observations. The materials and station set up can be found on the following web page
The Phenomenon of Sound Waves Activities

The Sound Wave Activities Will Consume TWO (2) Class Periods

Day 5 – Sound Waves and Musical Instruments SOL 5.2c
Objectives: Students will
  • Create an instrument capable of playing the basic musical scale
  • Observe a class made instrument (woodwinds) Play Those Pipes Again, Sam
  • Compare and contrast how different types of musical instruments make sound.

Create an instrument, Bass, J. et all, Activities for Teaching Science as Inquiry, Allyn & Bacon (2007), Pages A-60-61.
  • Lesson plan for making a guitar with box and rubber bands

We will rehash the concepts of vocabulary/concepts from our KWL charts and the stations activities yesterday.  We will begin today’s lesson by creating musical pipes using PVC tubes of varying lengths. Based on our prior knowledge, I will ask the students to predict the pitch and tone of each tube. After the experiment, I will ask the students to think about the characteristics of other types of instruments and what the direct relationship between those and sound (describe wave lengths, frequency, and pitch).
We will round out today’s class be creating a simulated guitar using a box and rubber bands.

Formative assessments will be based on teacher observations during activities, paying close attention to use of vocabulary and applications of fundamental principles.

 Summative assessments will consist of the student playing a scale and the rubric will be scaled in 5 of the 7 categories of the supplied rubric

Day 6- Sound and Matter: Relationship SOL 5.2b
Objectives: Students will
  • Observe the effects of sound waves through different mediums (air, water, sediment)
  • Compare and contrast sound traveling through a solid with a sound traveling through the air.
  • Compare and contrast sounds passing through different mediums

The students will start off by watching a 15 minute video on “The Case of the Barking Dogs” Barking dog then move directly into 4 person groups to compare and contrast the sounds (voice) that humans make and hear to that of other animals. This includes bats, dogs, and whales. The students will listen to different sounds and try to match them up on the accompanied scientific observation packets. 

Day 7– Sound Vocabulary 5.2 a-c
Objectives: Students will
  • Demonstrate their understanding of basic terminology and work with a partner to sort and classify terms with concepts of sound.

The class will begin with another way of modeling the sound wave.  We would then stretch out a slinky from end to end and have a student come up and pull a portion of the slinky back towards one end and let it go (the students would observe a pulse running from one end to the next. Then we would repeat the action this time doing it 5 times in succession – this would emulate the action of the waves coming in.

 The students will work in teams of 4 to create graphic organizers for vocabulary using the Frayer Model. We will apply our understanding to our observations, predictions, and inferences drown from the link provided below. 
Sound Waves and Music. The Physics Classroom. http://www.physicsclassroom.com/Class/sound/soundtoc.html  

Day 8 – Sounds: Uses and Applications SOL 5.2c
Objectives: Students will

  • Engage in a group discussion to identify both living and man-made sonar communications
  • Analyze and record the relationship between length and speed of sound waves and the medium in which they originated (water, soil/rock, air)

Start lesson with students, discussing as a group, what comes to mind when they think of the word sonar (bats eco-location, whales, dolphins, submarines, obstruction indicator warning system on newer vehicles) Ask them if they think that sound travels faster in air or in water? Water. Have you ever communicated with a friend while submerged in a swimming pool. Sounds are distorted but arrive much faster in water.
Have the students engage in a paired group activity using Fossweb: Physics of Sound Interactive for sound waves traveling in air and water. Have the students’ chart the time elapsed at a series of distances from the sound source. Ask the students to evaluate the differences using estimated ratios for each distance and to identify a set of distances where the elapsed time is equal (record the distances)

The students will then write in their journals using diagrams and content reflections for the day.

Day 9 – Sound Applications SOL 5.2c

Objectives: Students will
  • Compare and contrast how different types of musical instruments make sound

We will start the lesson with an interactive activity on the Whiteboard String Thing - PBS Kids. Have some volunteers come up and create a musical piece using input from their classmates. Before we listen to the piece, the teacher asks the class to predict how it will sound (awful, good, or awesome). After listening, we will apply our knowledge of vibration, wavelengths, and pitch to create a more compelling composition. The students will work in groups of three to create a 3 circle Venn diagram (each circle to represent a medium of sound through) and brainstorm a list of characteristics, uses, similarities, and differences to be used to complete the diagram.
A class discussion will round out the lesson.

Day 10 – Comparing Sound and Light Waves SOL 5.3

Objectives: The students will
  • Apply learned principles to compare and contrast sound and light waves
To compliment our review, I thought it would be meaningful to make the wave-to-wave comparison (not an all-out introduction of new material). I will show a short 11 minute YouTube video Waves: Light and Sound to give them a glimpse of what is ahead next week, as well as, use our class discussion after the video to gauge the overall level of understanding from the class, thus being able to address anything that bares the need for clarification.

Assessments will be formative to plug any loose holes in student understanding. 

Literature Connection


Useful Web Sites:
Reeko’s Mad Scientist Lab – numerous experiments about various concepts)

Acoustical Oceanography Lesson (Lesson plan on Sound Use by Marine Mammals.)

Sound: Slide Show Slide show for sound.

Advanced Wave Interactive Demo (Interactive demo – change the pitch and see the wavelengths change.)

The Phenomenon of Sound Waves (Lesson plans on sound waves.)

Read Lesson 2 - Sound: Echos Activity (Language Arts/Social Studies integration on science with Greek mythology and sound.)

Unit Resource Portfolio: Food Chains

A food chain shows how each living thing gets food, and how nutrients are passed from creature to creature. Food chain begin with plant-life, and end with animal-life.

Virginia Standards of Learning
Science SOL 3.5, The student will investigate and understand relationships among organisms in aquatic and terrestrial food chains. Key concepts include:
a) producer, consumer, decomposer;
b) herbivore, carnivore, omnivore; and
c) predator and prey.

Background Information
  • A food chain shows a food relationship among plants and animals in a specific area or environment.
  • Terrestrial organisms are found on land habitats such as deserts, grasslands, and forests. Aquatic organisms are found in water habitats such as ponds, marshes, rivers, and oceans.
  • A green plant makes its own food using sunlight, air, and water. Green plants are producers.
  • A consumer is an animal that eats living organisms (plant or animal).
  • Certain organisms break down decayed plants and animals into smaller pieces that can be used again by other living organisms. These organisms are decomposers.
  • A food chain, which shows part of a food web, can have an animal that eats only plants (herbivores). It can have an animal that eats only other animals (carnivore). It can also have an animal that eats both plants and animals (omnivore).
  • An animal can hunt other animals to get its food (predator).
  • An animal can be hunted by another animal for food (prey).
In order to successfully complete this unit, students will need to have mastered the following vocabulary words: decomposer, producer, consumers, herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, predator, and prey.

Day 1: Introduction to Food Chains

Students will: identify that a food chain shows a food relationship among plants and animals.

Introduce the concept of a food chain by asking students if they have ever heard of the term "food chain". As a class, fill out the "K" column of a KWL chart (both on the board and in student's Science notebook) by asking students what they already know about food chains. Next, read the book Trout Are Made of Trees by April Sayre. Follow up by asking questions such as: How are trout and trees connected? Do animals and plants depend on each other? Next, explain to students that we are going to learn how all animals and plants are connected through a process called a food chain. Have students watch the following food chain video. Once the video is over, fill out the "W" column on the KWL chart with the students. After students have listed several ideas, explain to students that we are going to be spending the next two weeks learning about food chains.

Day 2: Online Scavenger Hunt

Students will: identify and define the different terms associated with food chains.
create a foldable using the terms producer, consumer, decomposer.

Read the book Hey Diddle, Diddle: A Food Chain Tale by Pam Kapchinske. Have students recall yesterday's lesson by reviewing the KWL chart in their Science notebook. Explain to students that they are going to go on an "Online Scavenger Hunt". With the following sites, have students define the following terms in their Science notebooks: producer, consumer, decomposers, herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, prey, predators, decomposers, producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, tertiary consumers. Once students have finished the scavenger hunt, draw a pyramid on the board. Explain to students that we are going to fill out different levels of this pyramid by using the following site: Food Chains. As a class, fill out the pyramid. To close the lesson, return to the book Hey Diddle, Diddle: A Food Chain Tale. As a class, identify the different producers and consumers in the book. Using their notes from the scavenger hunt, follow up by having students create a producer, consumer, decomposer foldable.

Day 3: Test Your Knowledge!

Students will: test their knowledge on food chains by playing several food chain games.
create a foldable using the terms carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore.

As a class, review the terms from Day 2's scavenger hunt. Be sure to emphasize the different vocabulary words students identified yesterday. Create a shutter foldable using the terms carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore. Next, explain to students that they are going to test their knowledge on food chains by playing some food chains games with a partner. Have students partner up and play the following games: Chain Reaction, Food Chain Interactive Movie Game, and National Geographic Food Chain Quiz. As students play the games, remind them to keep notes and results in their Science notebook.

Day 4: Food Chain Snapshot

The student will: identify the different components that make up a food chain (decomposer, producer, consumer).

Read Pond Circle by Betsy Franco. Review the terms that relate to food chains. Make sure students identify who was at the "top" and "bottom" of the food chains. Next, have students play the interactive game Food Chain Snapshot. Remind students to takes notes of the game in their Science notebook. Once students have finished the game, have them return to their seats to review. Ask students what animals they took pictures of in the Food Chain Snapshot game. Write down the animals as student share. Be sure to include all eight different animals from the Food Chain Snapshot game. Once students have finished sharing, conduct an informal poll by asking students the following questions: What are the producers/consumers/decomposers. Conduct the poll and review results with the students. If the results are not unanimous, have students defend their answers.

Day 5: Different Animals Means Different Food Chains

The students will: create a foldable to understand the concept that different animals mean different food chains.

Ask students what kind of animals we find here in Virginia. List them on the board. Ask students if we have camels in Virginia? Lions (etc.)? Explain to students that there are different animals all over the world. To help enforce the idea create a hot dog booklet highlighting different food chains from a forest in Virginia, the Ocean, and a desert.

Day 6: Food Chains Around the World

The students will: identify different types of food chains in different biomes.

Remind students that there are different types of food chains, because there are different types of animals around the world. In pairs or groups, have students look at the following food chains from the following places, using the following sites: coniferous forest, deciduous forest, desert, ocean, and temperate. Have students take notes about each food chain in their Science notebook. One students are finished have them return to their seats. Next, ask students to list the five different food chains they looked at from around the world (students may use their notes). As students list the different food chain locations, write them on the board. Next, have individual students come up and write an animal that is located in one of the different food chain location. Once completed, ask students which living thing would be at the beginning of the food chain for each of the locations. Conduct an informal poll. Remind students that no matter where a food chain is located, it will most likely always begin with a green plant.

Day 7: Components of A Food Chain

The student will: create an accurate food chain using pictures.
label each component of the food chain.

On the SmartBoard, display the images of a mushroom, flower, grasshopper, raccoon, and a hawk. Together as a class, move the images around to create an accurate food chain (mess up a few times so students can correct you). Once you have completed an accurate food chain, as a class, label each component of the food chain (decomposer, producer, consumer, etc.) Once you have finished, explain to students that they are going to make their own food chain using the website Create A Food Chain. Have students pair up and create their own food chain using the site. Also, have students draw and label the food chain they create in their Science notebook.

Day 8: Make Your Own Food Chain!

The student will: apply their knowledge of food chains to create their own food chain.
physically create their own food chain using magazine images and yarn.

With a partner, have students share the food chain they created the day before with a partner. Next, explain to student that they are going to create their own food chain using magazines, markers, and crayons. Have students create their own food chain using pictures/drawings and yarn. As students create their food chains, make sure they label each component of their food chain. Once students have completed their food chain, individually call students up front to show their food chain to the class. While each child shows their food chain, call on the rest of the class to identify each component of the food chain.

Day 9: Let's Make A Food Web!

The student will: create a food web by combining food chains with other students.

Read to students Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds: The Story of a Food Web by Pam Kapchinske. Follow up by asking students the following questions: What were some of the animal in the story? Was there just one food chain in this story? What is it called when many different food chains connect together? Explain to students that they are now going to see how they will use their food chain they made yesterday to create something even bigger, a food web! Have students meet with partners and pass out each group a poster board and some yarn. Explain to students how to connect their food chains together to make a food web. Have students work on creating their food web.

Day 10: Closure

The student will: identify and label different components of a food web.
apply knowledge of food chains to a formal assessment.

Have students add the finish touches to their food web. Make sure that students identify the different components of their food chain and food web. Once each group has finished, individually call each group to the front to display their food chain. Have each group identify which food chain was their own and explain how they connected it with their partner's food chains. As a pre-assessment quiz, have the rest of the class identify the different components of each web. Also, make sure students identify which animals are either prey or predators. Finish up the unit by having students complete the Food Chain Assessment. Answer Key.

Additional Resources

Butternut Hollow Pond. By Brian J. Heinz. Illus. by Bob Marshall. 2005. 32p. First Avenue Editions, (9780822559931). Gr. 2-6.
Using beautiful watercolors, this book illustrates to students how animals depend on each other. The book takes place during one full day at a pond.

Decomposers in the Food Chain. By Alice B. McGinty. Photo. by Dwight Kugn. 2002. 24p. PowerKids Press, (9780823957578). Gr. 1-4.
This is book is great because it focuses solely on the importance of decomposers in the food chain cycle.

Hey Diddle Diddle: A Food Chain Tale. By Pam Kapchinske. Illus. by Sherry Rogers. 2011. 32p. Sylvan Dell Publishing, (9781607181309). Gr. 2-5
Using the tune from the rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle”, this book gives numerous examples of different food chains in nature. With fun pictures and a catchy tune, this is a great book for children.

Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds: The Story of a Food Web. By Victoria Crenson. Illus. by Annie Cannon. 2009. 34p. Marshall Cavendish Copr/Ccb, (9780761455523). Gr. 2-6.
This book discusses food chains and food webs on the coast. This book has great illustrations and is very useful for teaching about food chains and food webs.

The Magic School Bus Gets Eaten: A Book About Food Chains. By Pat Relf. Illus. by Carolyn Bracken. 1996. 32p. Scholastic Paperbacks, (9780590484145). Gr. 2-4.
In this book, Ms. Frizzle takes the students on a food chain adventure. Using their school bus as a vehicle, the class drives into the ocean in search of food chain knowledge.

The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets Behind What You Eat.
By Michael Pollan. 2009. 352p. Dial, (9780803725001). Gr. 3-6.
This is a great book to use when teaching about carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores because it makes a real life connection for students.

Pleased to Eat You. By Sydnie Meltzer Kleinhenz. Illustrated by Beth Griffis Johnson. 2003. 32p. Millbrook Press, (9780761318279). Gr. 1-3.
This easy reader is great for students to read themselves! Following a young girl, this book tells the stories of food chains. Better yet, this book also has great facts at the end to further educate students on food chains.

Pond Circle. By Betsy Franco. Illus. by Stefano Vitale. 2009. 32p. Margaret K. McElderry, (9781416940210). Gr. 2-5
With amazing illustrations and a rhythmic flow, this book is great to use when introducing the concept of food chains. This book is great in that it also provides additional information about each animal from the story.

Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard. By Kathleen W. Zoehfeld. Illus. by Priscilla Lamont. 2012. 40p. Knopf Books for Young Readers, (9780517709902). Gr. 2-4.
A brand new book about food chain hitting shelves this spring! This book discusses food chains and food webs that we would find in our own backyards.

Trout Are Made of Trees. By April Pulley Sayre. Illus. by Kate Endle. 2008. 32p. Charlesbridge Publishing, (9781580891387). Gr. 2-4
This is a great book to use when teaching food chains because it shows students how plants are an extremely important component of food chains. Readers learn that leaves fall into streams and decompose into food for fish, beginning a food chain cycle.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Unit Resource Portfolio: The Solar System

With all the recent developments in our solar system, it can be difficult to keep up with the changes. This unit focuses on the most up-to-date information regarding the eight planets and five dwarf planets that exist in our solar system but also gives students an understanding that new discoveries and notions are being made every day. The below lessons give students the opportunity to look at the planets in our solar system, even the demoted dwarf planet of Pluto, and study aspects of each that are unique and interesting. This unit is extremely hands-on and gives students many opportunities to make predictions, observations, and conclusions about the solar system.

Virginia Standards of Learning 
SOL 4.7 The student will investigate and understand the organization of the solar system. Key concepts include:
a) the planets in the solar system;
b) the order of the planets in the solar system; and
c) the relative sizes of the planets.

SOL 4.8 The student will investigate and understand the relationships among Earth, the moon, and the sun. Key concepts include
c) the causes for the phases of the moon

Background Information:
- Our solar system is ancient. Early astronomers believed that Earth was the center of the universe and all other heavenly bodies orbited around Earth. We now know that our sun is the center of our solar system and eight planets, a handful of dwarf planets, 170 named moons, dust, gas, and thousands of asteroids and comets orbit around the sun.
- Our solar system is made up of eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
- Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are considered terrestrial planets. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are called gas giants.
- Mercury is closest to the sun and is a small, heavily cratered planet. Mercury looks like our moon. Since Pluto’s reclassification from planet to dwarf planet, Mercury is now the smallest planet in our solar system.
- Venus is second from the sun. It is similar to Earth in size and mass, and has a permanent blanket of clouds that trap so much heat that the temperatures on the surface of Venus are hot enough to melt lead.
- Earth is third from the sun. Earth’s atmosphere, the liquid water found on Earth, and its distance from the sun, among many other factors, make Earth a haven for life.
- Mars is fourth from the sun. The atmosphere on Mars is thin and there is a vast network of canyons and riverbeds on the red planet. Scientists hypothesize that Mars once supported a wet, warm Earth-like climate.
- Jupiter is fifth from the sun. Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and is considered a gas giant. Jupiter has no solid surface.
-Saturn is sixth from the sun. Early scientists thought Saturn was the only planet with rings, but we now know that all four gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) have rings.
- Uranus is seventh from the sun. Uranus is a gas giant.
- Neptune is eighth from the sun. Neptune appears blue through telescopes and is a gas giant.
- The eight planets sorted by size from largest to smallest are: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Earth, Venus, Mars, and Mercury.
- Pluto is no longer included in the list of planets in our solar system due to its small size and irregular orbit. Many astronomers questioned whether Pluto should be grouped with worlds like Earth and Jupiter. In 2006, this debate led the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the recognized authority in naming heavenly objects, to formally reclassify Pluto. On August 24, 2006, Pluto's status was officially changed from planet to dwarf planet.
- A new distinct class of objects called "dwarf planets" was identified in 2006. It was agreed that "planets" and "dwarf planets" are two distinct classes of objects. The first members of the dwarf planet category are Ceres, Pluto and 2003 UB313, given the name Eris.
- A dwarf planet has not "cleared the neighborhood" around its orbit, which means it has not become gravitationally dominant and it shares its orbital space with other bodies of a similar size.
Earth completes one revolution around the sun every 365 ¼ days. The moon revolves around Earth about once every month.
- Due to its axial tilt, Earth experiences seasons during its revolution around the sun.
- The phases of the moon are caused by its position relative to Earth and the sun. The phases of the moon include the new, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full, waning gibbous, last (third) quarter, and waning crescent.
- The sun is an average-sized yellow star, about 110 times the diameter of Earth. The sun is approximately 4.6 billion years old.
- Our moon is a small rocky satellite, having about one-quarter the diameter of Earth and one-eightieth its mass. It has extremes of temperature, virtually no atmosphere or life, and very little water.
- Our understanding of the solar system has changed from an Earth-centered model of Aristotle and Ptolemy to the sun-centered model of Copernicus and Galileo.

Important Vocabulary:
cosmic dust - small particles less than 1mm in size produced from asteroids and comets
crater - bowl-shaped hollow on the surface of a planet, moon, or asteroid formed by a rock collision
dwarf planet - celestial body with all the characteristics of a planet except it does not "clear the neighborhood" around its orbit
gas giant - planet mostly made up of gas, includes Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune
moon - a rock that orbits around a planet or asteroid
orbit - the path of an object around an object caused by the larger objects gravitational pull
satellite - an object held in orbit around a planet or moon by gravity such as the Moon
terrestrial planet - planet made of rock, includes Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars

Day 1 - The Solar System
Students will:
  • Learn about the thirteen planets in the solar system and the difference between the eight planets and the five dwarf planets. 
  • Create a solar system to scale of the eight planets. 
  • Simulate the theories of Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Kepler using the solar system mobile. 
On the first day of the unit, students will be introduced to the eight planets and five dwarf planets of the solar system. They will learn the difference between the two types of planets and then create a solar system to scale based on the eight planets. After watching a video on the astronomers who contributed to the discovery that the planets revolve in elliptical movements around the sun, they will use the solar system mobile to recreate the theories proposed by the four astronomers as talked about in the clip. Lastly, students will receive charts to record the phases of the moon for the next two weeks.

Day 2 -  Pluto & the Dwarf Planets 
Students will:
  • Compare and contrast the characteristics of planets and dwarf planets. 
  • Read about the discovery of Pluto and it’s reclassification to a dwarf planet in 2006. 
  • Create a blink comparator to understand how Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. 
This lesson will focus on understanding the difference between a planet and a dwarf planet. Since future lessons will focus on each of the planets, this will be the students’ only opportunity to learn about the dwarf planets. We will start by creating a foldable that compares and contrasts planets and dwarf planets.
Then we will read selections from Pluto: From Planet to Dwarf by Elaine Landau to learn more about Pluto’s discovery in 1930 and subsequent reclassification in 2006. Lastly, we will create our own blink comparator out of simple items like a box and tracing paper so students understand the technique Clyde Tombaugh used to discover Pluto.

Day 3 - The Sun 
Students will:
  • Recall what they already know about the sun. 
  • Compare the size of the sun to the size of the planets surrounding it. 
This lesson will begin by creating a KWL chart about what students already know about the sun and what they would like to know more about. Next the class will go outside with the solar system mobile they created earlier and use a long string and some chalk to draw a 13’ circle on pavement to simulate the sun. The group will then compare the size of the ‘sun’ to the size of the planets on the mobile. Inside, the class will watch NASA’s Sun For Kids video and pair up to create a chart in their science notebooks that lists “why we can’t live on the sun” and “why we can’t live without the sun”. Students will use the video and background knowledge to answer these questions. After discussing the answers as a group, students will reread the questions posted in our KWL chart and try to answer them based on what they learned.

Day 4 - The Moon 
Students will:
  • Identify the differences between life on Earth and life on the Moon. 
  • Explore the landscape, size, age and makeup of the Moon. 
  • Analyze popular misconceptions and subsequent historical contributions in understanding the Moon. 
  • Examine the movement of the Earth around the Sun and the Moon around the Earth to create the phases of the Moon. 
The lesson will begin with a reading of If You Decide To Go To The Moon by Faith Mcnulty. The class will then use Google Earth to view the moon and discuss the lunar landscape and other characteristics of the moon. Next the class will discuss misconceptions about the moon and use Google Earth to prove why they are not true. Students will then watch the explanation of the phases of the moon from Wonderville and then take turns with the interactive portion at the end of the presentation to reinforce their knowledge. Next students will make an accordion foldable showing the eight phases of the moon.

At the end of the lesson students will do a 3-2-1 analysis in their journals and write three ways being on the moon is different than being on earth, two things people once believed about the moon that we know aren’t true, and one thing they’d still like to know about the moon.

Day 5 - Mercury & Venus
Students will:
  • Illustrate why Mercury and Venus are classified as terrestrial or rock planets. 
  • Demonstrate why Mercury’s day is longer than its year. 
  • Observe the greenhouse effect to understand Venus’s gaseous atmosphere. 
This lesson will begin with students making predictions in their science journals about two thermometers set in sunlight, one inside a covered jar and one in open air. They will hypothesize what will happen to the temperatures of each thermometer after sitting in the sun for the entire period. Then students will analyze pictures of Mercury and Venus as well as the class solar system mobile to make inferences about both planets. In their science journals, they will write about both planets' sizes in comparison to the other planets as well as their relative distance from the sun and why they are terrestrial planets. After a discussion on how Mercury’s day is longer than its year, the class will create a model of Mercury’s rotation using material such as a desk lamp, a ball, and clay to better understand it. Lastly, students will observe the thermometers from the beginning of class and make conclusions about why the temperature changes occurred. They will then make connections between the thermometer in the covered jar and the cloud blanket covering Venus to understand the greenhouse effect.

Day 6 - Earth 
Students will:
  • Compare the distance from the Sun, size, and makeup of Earth to those of other planets within our solar system. 
  • Outline the relationship between the Earth and the Sun regarding time and the seasons. 
  • Contrast the climates of various regions of Earth relative to the Sun. 
To begin the lesson, students will fill out the first two sections of a KWL chart handout regarding Earth. Next students will analyze pictures of Earth as well as the class solar system mobile to make inferences about the planet. In their science journals, they will write about Earth’s size in comparison to the other planets as well as its relative distance from the sun. The class will then do an experiment involving a flashlight to demonstrate the angles in which the sun hits either hemisphere during various seasons. After a discussion on the length of an Earth year, the class will use Google Earth to explore the various features of Earth including deserts, frozen tundras, and rainforests and relate their climates to their relationship with the sun. Lastly, students will volunteer some questions they asked in their KWL chart handouts and the group will discuss the answers to complete the charts.

Day 7 - Mars 
Students will:
  • Test for living cells in sand to examine how scientists test for life on Mars. 
  • Discover the characteristics of the atmosphere and terrain of Mars. 
  • Illustrate why Mars is classified as a terrestrial planet. 
To start the lesson, students will divide into small groups to start an experiment similar to how they test for life on Mars. They will make predictions about what might occur in three jars of sand and sugar water, one with salt added, one with baking powder added, and one with yeast added. Next students will analyze pictures of Mars as well as the class solar system mobile to make inferences about the planet. In their science journals, they will write about the size of Mars in comparison to the other planets as well as its relative distance from the sun. The class will then read Touchdown Mars! by Peggy Wethered and Ken Edgett and then write letters in their science journals from the perspective of a visitor on Mars and using the new things they learned about Mars from the book. Lastly, students will look at the three jars they prepared in the beginning of class and make observations about what happened within each. In the end, the class will conclude that the jar with yeast showed signs of life because the presence of living cells caused a slow but continuous reaction as the cells multiplied.

Day 8 - Jupiter & Saturn 
Students will:
  • Illustrate why Jupiter and Saturn are classified as gas giants. 
  • Create their own Jupiter storm to simulate the huge storm patterns and streams of gas moving at different speeds on Jupiter’s surface. 
  • Test predictions about Saturn’s density versus the density of the rest of the planets. 
The lesson will begin with students discussing the properties of a gas giant using the book Mighty Megaplanets: Jupiter & Saturn for clues. Then students will analyze pictures of Jupiter and Saturn as well as the class solar system mobile to make inferences about both planets. In their science journals, they will write about the sizes of Jupiter and Saturn in comparison to the other planets as well as their relative distances from the sun and and why they are both gas giants. Next the class will discuss the cloud patterns of Jupiter, including the Great Red Spot, and then simulate a storm on Jupiter by combining milk, food dye, and dishwashing liquid in a bowl. Then the class will divide into groups and do an experiment that asks, “Would Saturn float?” They will first make predictions about how a plastic ball and a marble will float in water and then test their theories. The class will conclude as a group that since Saturn has the lightest density of the planets and its density is lighter than water, it would float, unlike the rest of the planets which would sink.

Day 9 - Uranus & Neptune 
Students will:
  • Illustrate why Uranus and Neptune are classified as gas giants. 
  • Simulate the rings of Uranus to understand why we can’t see them from Earth. 
  • Demonstrate how Neptune was discovered via mathematical calculations rather than a telescope. 
As a review, students will do a think-pair-share to discuss the properties of gas giants. As a group, the class will discuss these properties and then students will analyze pictures of Uranus and Neptune as well as the class solar system mobile to make inferences about both planets. In their science journals, they will write about the sizes of Uranus and Neptune in comparison to the other planets as well as their relative distances from the sun and and why they are both gas giants. Next students will divide into groups to experiment with simulating light shining on the dust particles in Uranus’s rings. The teacher will light a candle, blow it out, and capture the smoke in an empty soda bottle and seal it. Next students will make predictions about where to hold the flashlight to see the smoke particles. Each group will then shine the flashlight at the bottle and then from behind and record which made the smoke particles more visible. The class will conclude that the particles (and thus the rings) are most easily seen when they are lit from behind (as they were in 1977 when Uranus passed in front of a distant star and the rings were discovered). Lastly the class will discuss the discovery of Neptune and do an experiment using materials such as a magnet and a paper clip to simulate how the pull of Neptune affected Uranus to prove Neptune’s existence.

Day 10 - Review 
Students will:
  • Create a foldable about the eight planets in the solar system and their unique characteristics. 
  • Review content from the Solar System unit.
The review will begin with students creating a diamond accordion foldable about the eight planets. The front will show the planets in order with some attention paid to scale as well as a mnemonic device to remember them in order.
Inside the foldable, students will divide the square into eight parts, four for the terrestrial planets and four for the gas giants. They will then use the entries in their science journals from the past two weeks to fill in information on each planet.

 The class will then divide in half and play a game of 'Solar System baseball' with the following rules:
1. If you answer a question correctly, you can move up a base.
2. If you answer incorrectly, it is an “out” (and the class answers as a whole).
3. Three “outs” and the inning is over and it’s the other team’s turn to “bat”.
4. The team with the most runs wins once all the questions have been answered.

Literature Connections

13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar. Illus. by the author. 2011. 64p. National Geographic Children's Books. (978-1426307706). Gr. 2-5.
 The newest edition of this book includes the 8 planets and 5 dwarf planets that form our solar system. It’s a great introduction to the planets as it gives a brief overview of each planet and the sun, explains how the solar system formed, and briefly touches on the discovery of new solar systems orbiting distant stars. It’s enough information to get students acquainted with the planets before studying them more in depth as we’ll be doing later in the unit.

Far-Out Guide to the Sun
by Mary Kay Carson. 2010. 48p. Bailey Books. (978-1598451801). Gr. 2-5.

This book explores fascinating facts about the sun as well as mysteries still being researched today. It’s a comprehensive resource for learning about the sun because of the wide variety of topic it touches on, including the sun’s relationship with the earth, the age of the sun and its future, and the long journey research probe Solar Probe will begin in a few years when it departs Earth to research the sun.

How The Universe Works by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest. 1994. 160p. Reader’s Digest. (978-0895775764). Gr. 4-6. 

This book is the source of 90% of the activities within this unit. It’s an amazingly creative resource for hands-on experiments kids can do to learn about the universe. The materials and prep work involved are never too complicated and experiments that require parents to help out are clearly noted. I was so excited to discover so many interesting experiments within this book and it’s a wonderful addition to any upper elementary science classroom.

If You Decide To Go To The Moon by Faith Mcnulty. Illus. by Steven Kellogg. 2005. 48p. Scholastic Press. (978-0590483599). Gr. 1-4.
In this imaginative book, readers go on a journey to the Moon and gain a perspective on how things differ up there. It’s a great way to help students understand the atmosphere and lack of gravity of the Moon as well as its unique landscape. The end of the fascinating journey gives students an idea of the importance of air and water, “Earth’s special blessings”. The book is a great way of helping students understand why we can’t live on the moon.

The Magic School Bus Lost In The Solar System by Joanna Cole. Illus. by Bruce Degen. 1992. 40p. Scholastic Press. (978-0590414296). Gr. 1-4.
Another adventure with Miss Frizzle, this is the story of the Magic School Bus’s journey through the solar system. This series of books is always a great way to get students imaginations going and help them see science class as more of an adventure than a task. This book even ends with the class making a mobile of their solar system discoveries which is also an activity in the unit. Students will love doing the same thing as the students in the story. The only caveat is it still includes Pluto as a planet but that would also be a great way to show students that for a long time everyone believed it was.

Mighty Megaplanets: Saturn & Jupiter by David Jefferis. Illus. by the author. 2008. 32p. Crabtree Publishing. (978-0778737537). Gr. 4-6.
This book is a great introduction to the gas giant planets. Though it focuses on Saturn and Jupiter, it goes into detail about the gas giants in general. Students will love learning about the rings of these gas giants, from the bold rings of Jupiter to the less visible rings of Saturn. Because it can be hard to grasp the idea of planets made up of mostly gas, the imagery and fun facts in this book make it a great resource for helping students understand the wonders of these two gas giants.

My Science Notebook: The Moon by Martine Podesto. Illus. by the author. 2009. 104p. Gareth Stevens Publishing. (978-0836892154). Gr. 3-5.
This book is a series of letters to ‘Dr. Brainy’, a scientist who knows all about the moon. The questions range from simple to more complex but Dr. Brainy never fails to give a thorough answer that’s easy to understand. This book would be a great addition to a KWL chart about the moon if students looked through it to see if Dr. Brainy answered any of the questions they came up with.

Nicolaus Copernicus: The Earth Is a Planet
by Dennis B. Fradin. Illus. by Cynthia Von Buhler. 2004. 32p. Mondo Pub. (978-1593360061). Gr. 3-6.
This book is a beautifully illustrated biography on Copernicus and how he contributed to astronomy with his idea that the planets rotate around the sun. Students will love the pictures and the elementary-level text will make it easy for them to understand Copernicus’s theories and notions.

Pluto: From Planet to Dwarf
by Elaine Landau. 2008. 48p. Children's Press. (978-0531147948). Gr. 2-5.
This helpful little book opens with two true or false statements, one of which is true and one of which is false. The false statement of course is that Pluto is a planet and the book goes on to explain the discovery of Pluto and its reclassification in 2006. The book is a great resource for helping students understand the difference between planets and dwarf planets.

Touchdown Mars!
by Peggy Wethered and Ken Edgett. Illus. by Michael Chesworth. 2000. 40p. Putnam Juvenile. (978-0399232145). Gr. 1-4.

This adventure book brings the readers on the long journey from Earth to Mars as an astronaut. Readers get to explore Mars from its canyons and volcanoes to its moons, learning facts about the red planet along the way. It’s an imaginative piece of literature to add to the classroom and even contains a Mars A-B-Cyclopedia at the end for student reference.

Web Resources
Classzone: Distances between planets in the solar system
This incredible simulation is a great way to help students visualize the vast distance between planets. Since the mobile we make in this unit has planets that are to scale but not distances to scale, this video is perfect for teaching that aspect. Students will be amazed at the vast distance between the outlying planets

Kids Astronomy: The Solar System
This interactive site gives users a chance to see the solar system in motion and to click on any part of it to learn more. It's a great way to help students visualize the different speeds at which the planets orbit the sun as well as the size of their orbits and the consequent varying lengths of their years. In 'visiting' all the various places in the solar system (even including comets and asteroid belts!), students get a full page of fascinating content on that topic that is both comprehensive and easy to understand.

Magic School Bus Space Chase
This quiz game coincides with the Magic School Bus book above. With each quiz question, the player follows Miss Frizzle around the solar system and answers questions along the way. The material is extremely relevant to the unit and its a fun way for students to review what they've learned.

NASA: StarChild Learning Center
StarChild is a great source for the most up-to-date information since it was created by NASA. Students can explore various topics on the solar system on both a beginner and intermediate level. The site has the option to have content pages read to you as well, which is great for younger students. In addition to information, there are games and activities and its easy to toggle back and forth between levels if users care to do so.

Wonderville: Phases of the Moon
This kid-friendly interactive activity gives students a quick lesson on the phases of the moon before it involves them in finding the phase of the moon that matches the moon's current position. I found a lot of simulations involving the phases of the moon to be somewhat confusing for children but this one makes it clear and also provides great visuals to really drive the point home.

  1. Halfway through the unit, students will complete a Solar System Quiz that they will be graded on. (Answers: C, B, D, C, A B)
  2. At the end of the unit, students will complete the Solar System Unit Test. See also the
    Unit Test Answer Key
  3. Since the diamond accordion foldable created during the review was the product of notes taken in each student's science notebook over the unit, the foldable will be assessed as part of their grade. The rubric used to assess these foldables can be found here
  4. Each student's lunar chart will be collected and graded at the end of the unit. Students will be assessed on their ability to accurately describe which phases of the moon they observed and their diligence in observing and recording the moon's phases throughout the two week period. 
  5. Formative assessments will occur throughout the unit during all of the experiment activities that require predicting and testing. I will be looking for students who make thoughtful predictions, ask relevant questions before, during, and after the experiment, and can make educated conclusions by the end of it. 

Unit Resource Portfolio: Scientific Investigation

Children are naturally curious. This curiosity can lead to interesting and wonderful discoveries. By experimenting, observing, and making predictions students can discover a plethora of new and exciting things. This resource contains instructional planning, foldables, books, websites, and assessment for the Virginia Standard of Learning for first grade scientific investigation.

Virginia Standard of Learning - 1.1
The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations in which:
a) the senses are used to observe differences in physical properties;
b) observations are made from multiple positions to achieve a variety of perspectives and are repeated to ensure accuracy;
c) objects or events are classified and arranged according to characteristics or properties;
d) simple tools are used to enhance observations;
e) length, mass, volume, and temperature are measured using nonstandard units;
f) inferences are made and conclusions are drawn about familiar objects and events;
g) a question is developed from one or more observations;
h) predictions are made based on patterns of observations;
i) observations and data are recorded, analyzed, and communicated orally and with simple graphs, pictures, written statements, and numbers; and
j) simple investigations and experiments are conducted to answer questions.

Background Information
The nature of science refers to the foundational concepts that govern the way scientists formulate explanations about the natural world. The nature of science includes the following concepts:
  • a) the natural world is understandable;
  • b) science is based on evidence, both observational and experimental;
  • c) science is a blend of logic and innovation;
  • d) scientific ideas are durable yet subject to change as new data are collected;
  • e) science is a complex social endeavor; and
  • f) scientists try to remain objective and engage in peer review to help avoid bias.
In grade one, an emphasis should be placed on concepts a, b, and e.
  • Science assumes that the natural world is understandable. Scientific inquiry can provide explanations about nature. This expands students’ thinking from just a knowledge of facts to understanding how facts are relevant to everyday life.
  • Science demands evidence. Scientists develop their ideas based on evidence and they change their ideas when new evidence becomes available or the old evidence is viewed in a different way.
  • Science is a complex social endeavor. It is a complex social process for producing knowledge about the natural world. Scientific knowledge represents the current consensus as to what is the best explanation for phenomena in the natural world. This consensus does not arise automatically, since scientists with different backgrounds from all over the world may interpret the same data differently. To build a consensus, scientists communicate their findings to other scientists and attempt to replicate one another’s findings. In order to model the work of professional scientists, it is essential for first-grade students to engage in frequent discussions with peers about their understanding of their investigations.
  • To communicate an observation accurately, one must provide a clear description of exactly what is observed and nothing more.
  • Observations should be made from multiple positions (e.g., observations of the same object from the front of the object, from the back of the object, looking down on the object, etc.) whenever possible to achieve a variety of perspectives.
  • Observations should be repeated multiple times to assure accuracy.
  • Once the characteristics of several objects or several events have been observed and recorded, the objects or events can be arranged by those characteristics (e.g., several objects sorted by color, several events sorted on a timeline by age, etc.).
  • Simple tools, such as a magnifying glass and a balance can extend the observations that people can make.
  • Nonstandard units such as paper clips, a student’s foot, index cards, etc., can be used to measure the length of objects. The mass of two objects can be compared by holding each object in a different hand. The volume of various liquids can be compared by pouring them in cups of the same size. Variations in temperature of different objects can be compared by the difference that is felt when each object is touched. Variations in air temperature can be compared by observing the differences one feels when in different environments (e.g., inside the classroom vs. outside on the playground in winter, inside the freezer compartment of a refrigerator vs. inside a kitchen).
  • An inference is a tentative explanation based on background knowledge and available data.
  • A conclusion is a summary statement based on data from the results of an investigation.
  • Questions about what is observed can be developed.
  • A prediction is a forecast about what may happen in some future situation. It is based on information and evidence. A prediction is different from a guess.
  • Graphs are powerful ways to display data, making it easier to recognize important information. Describing things as accurately as possible is important in science because it enables people to compare their observations with those of others.
  • Data should be displayed in bar graphs and picture graphs at the grade one level.
  • An experiment is a fair test designed to answer a question.

Unit Vocabulary
View PDF file with suggested vocabulary terms and definitions here.

Day One - Introduction to Observation
Before starting Science Unit play "Science is Real" video by They Might Be Giants
Objective: Students will
  • Use their senses to enhance their observation of physical properties
Students will make observations of everyday items using their 5 senses. First,gather class together and discuss with the students what they already know about their 5 senses. Read "How Do You Know?: A Book About Five Senses" by Lisa Jayne. Hand each student "My Itsy Bitsy Five Senses Book" worksheet. Have them color and write words before cutting up and putting into book foldable (directions for foldable - you will need to make two books and glue together). Glue foldable into left side of science journal. Next, Put students into group of 4 to 5. At each table put a "Senses Bag". In each bag put an item for smelling (garlic in a container with holes), hearing (beads in a container), touching (cotton balls), tasting (M&Ms if permissible at your school), and a picture. Items in parentheses are suggested items. Number each item. Have each student make observations about each numbered item using each of their senses at least once and record in their science journal. Bring students back into group and discuss what they learned about their senses. Explain to students that they are collecting data on each item.

Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they used the correct senses for identifying items.
Day Two - Observations from Multiple Positions
Objective: Students will
  • Observe an item from multiple positions and make repeated observations
  • Communicate observations with simple pictures
For this lesson you will need Styrofoam cylindrical cone cut in half. Gather the students on carpet and show them the cone from the front and ask what they see, turn it and ask what they see, point the top at them and ask what they see. Explain that items can look different from different angles. Have a student stand in the front of the group. Ask student to face group, turn back to group, lay on floor. Ask students if they see the difference in the way they see their fellow student depending on what angle they are looking from. Next, divide students into groups so that approximately the same number are at each table. On each table place 4 - 5 items that look different from different angles (book, Styrofoam circle cut in half, half cylindrical cone, plate, pine cone, cup, hexagon bolt, toy car, football). Number each item. Have students draw each item in their science journal. They should have a column for the item number, top view, front view, back view). Again, explain that they are collecting data on each item and making observations.
Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they filled in each column correctly and understood what the assignment was.
Day Three - Classification of Objects
Objective: Student will
  • Classify and arrange objects and events according to at least two attributes or properties so that similarities and differences become apparent
Read the book "3 Little Firefighter" by Stuart J. Murphy. As you are reading point out the different shapes and ask if they are the same shape? Color? After reading ask students the different ways they could have grouped the buttons. Draw different options on the white board (triangles could be grouped together, all the black buttons could be grouped together, all the red triangles). Sent students back to their desk. Give each one a Sorting Worksheet. Have them cut out each box. Construct a three pocket foldable (these are directions for a two pocket - follow them except fold the paper in thirds). Ask students to sort the cards into different groups (white triangles, red triangles, triangles, circles, white circles, red circles, red shapes, white shapes).

Day Four - Using Non-Standard Measurement
Objective: Student will
  • Measure length, mass, and volume, using nonstandard units
Watch "Body Matches" & "Catching the Kidnapper" videos. Discuss different ways the video used to measure items. Read "How Big is a Foot?" by Rolf Myller. Discuss how the book used measurement for the Queen's bed. Set up stations around the room where students can measure items. Have a long stuffed snake or similar item for students to measure with their feet. Have two small but different weight items for students to hold in each hand and determine which is heavier/lighter. An ice pack and a hand warming packet to determine which is colder/hotter. These items are just suggestions. Once you have determined which items you will use, create a worksheet with pictures and a space for students to make observations. This sheet can then be glued into their science journal.
Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they were able to make logical observations.
Day Five - Making Predictions
Objective: Student will
  • Predict outcomes based on actual observations and evidence rather than random guesses
Read "The Sneeches" By Dr. Seuss. While reading, stop and ask students to make predictions about what might happen next in the story. Explain that a predication is a thought about what we think might happen. After the book, explain that we can use the same predicting skills in science. We will observe (watch) an experiment and make predictions. Give each student a cup that has been marked on the inside with a line at the half way point. Fill each cup to the line with warm water. Have student put their finger in water so they know the starting temperature. Tell students you will be adding an ice cube to each cup - what are some predictions about what will happen in the water (water will rise, water will get cold, ice will melt). Have students fill out "I Can Make Predictions" worksheet with predictions about what they think will happen to the water. Add ice to each cup. Have students fill-out the observation portion of worksheet. Students will also list the 5 senses used to make observations and predictions. These are in their science journal from previous lesson. Glue sheet in science journal.
Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they made logical predictions, observations, and wrote their 5 senses.
Day 6 - Making Inferences
Objective: Student will
  • Use familiar events and objects to make inferences and draw conclusions
Discuss how we use information we know to draw conclusions. View "Drawing Conclusions Detective" PowerPoint. Answer the questions in a group discussion. Read "Bear & Bunny Grow Tomatoes" by Bruce Koscielniak. Next, give each student "What Happened?" worksheet and have them fill out what happened in the story and the result of these actions on each character.

Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they knew details of the story and could draw a conclusion.
Day 7 - Collecting Data
Objective: Student will
  • Communicate observations and data with simple graphs and pictures
Read "Collecting Data: Pick a Pancake" by John Burstein. Discuss collecting data to create graphs. Hand out "What M&M Color?" and collect data from their fellow students on their favorite color of M&Ms. They will use this information tomorrow to create a graph.

Your students can create different graphs online at Kids' Zone.
Day Eight - Creating Graphs
Objective: Student will
  • Communicate observations and data with simple graphs and pictures
Read "The Great Graph Contest" by Loreen Leedy. Discuss the different ways we can pictorially represent information. Show students examples of different graphs. Have students use their "What M&M Color" sheet from the previous day to create a bar graph. Model the graph on the board and show students where labels go and how to know where their bars go. Glue the M&M sheet and the graph in their science journals.
Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure their bar graph matched the information they collected.
Day Nine - Answering Questions
Objective: Student will
  • Answer questions by conducting simple experiments using simple tools
Read "Mighty Maddie" by Stuart J. Murphy. Discuss the how objects can be the same size and still have different weights/can be the different sizes but still weigh the same. Using balances have students weight two items and record their findings in their science journals. Have them do 4 - 5 different experiments with different items. Have them make a prediction on which is the lightest (or heaviest) before they weigh items. See if their prediction was correct.

Assessment - Check student's science journals to make sure they made predictions and recorded their findings.
Day Ten - Review
Read "Detective LaRue: Letters from the Investigation". Discuss with students that experiments, predictions, observations, etc. are like pieces of a mystery and how we use them can help us solve a problem and discover answers.

For the final assessment of this unit, construct a Layered-Look Book foldable. Give each student a copy of "Science Assessment" worksheet. Have them use this information to create the book. This will review information included in this unit. You can always change the terms or add more. Teachers will probably need to construct the books ahead of time (Layered-Look Book foldable directions).

3 Little Firefighters. By Stuart J. Murphy. Illus. by Bernice Lum. (2003). 40p. HarperCollins, (978-0060001209). Gr. K -3. Three firefighters scramble to find their missing buttons before the big parade. A good introduction to sorting items by attributes.
Bear and Bunny Grow Tomatoes. By Bruce Koscielniak. (1993). Knopf Books for Young Readers, (978-0679836872). Gr. K - 3. Bear and Bunny both decide to grow tomatoes except Bear takes a must more proactive approach to his garden. This book helps students to draw conclusions about what will happen based on the characters' behavior.
Collecting Date: Pick a Pancake. By John Burstein. (2003). 24p. Weekly Reader Early Learning, (978-0836838206). Gr. K - 2.The Math Monsters decide to open a pancake shop, but they like four different kinds of pancakes, but they only have three mixing bowls. The Monsters decide to survey their friends to figure out which three kinds of pancakes are most popular in Monster Town. Introduces the concepts of data collection and data representation.
Detective LaRue: Letters from the Investigation. By Mark Teague. (2004). 32p. Scholastic Press, (978-0439458689). Gr. K - 2. Ike LaRue (dog detective) is framed for a crime by two cats and he must solve the crime. Great illustrations.
The Great Graph Contest. By Loreen Leedy. (2006). 32p. Holiday House, (978-0823420292). Gr. 1 - 3. Gonk the toad and Beezy the lizard engage in a contest to create the best graph. The friends show how to collect and organize data.
Hershey's Milk Chocolate Weights and Measures. By Jerry Pallotta. Illus by Rob Bolster. (2003). 32p. Cartwheel, (978-0439388771). Gr. 1 - 4. Teach students about measurement using different candies.
How Big is a Foot? By Rolf Myller. (1991). 48p. Yearling,( 978-0440404958). Gr. K - 2. The King wants to build a bed for his Queen for her birthday. The problem is that no one knows what a bed is, since they haven't been invented yet, let alone how big one should be. Teaches non-standard measurement.
How Do You Know? A Book About 5 Senses. By Lisa Jayne. (2007). 24p. Tate Publishing & Enterprises (978-1602473126). Gr. K-1. How do you know certain things? By using your different senses.
Mighty Maddie. By Stuart J. Murphy. Illus by Bernice Lum. (2004). 40p. HarperCollins, (978-0060531614). Gr. K - 1. Maddie needs to clean her very messy room up before her party! Might Maddie to the rescue. While cleaning, Maddie teaches about light and heavy.
The Sneeches and Other Stories. By Dr. Seuss. (1961). 72p. Random House, (978-0394800899). Gr. 1 - 4. Some Sneeches have stars on their bellies and some do not. When the Sneeches with bare bellies fall victim to a con man and decide to add stars to their bellies, insanity ensues. Good book for helping students make predictions since the Sneeches go in and out the star machine.

This site has many videos that work for almost any subject you need to teach.
This site is similar to YouTube, but focuses on only educational videos.
This site has many educational resources available, including many complete PowerPoints to aid in lesson presentation.
This site is full of lesson plans that also include videos that support the lesson.

Kids' Zone
Many student centered activities. This site is run in conjunction with the National Center for Education Statistics.