The solar system is an integral part of Earth Science! When learning about the solar system, students are introduced to the nine planets, their order and different characteristics of each planet. There is also a lot of focus on the sun and the moon and how everything rotates. The books in this selection would work best for students in grades 3-4, with one for younger students.
Boy, Were We Wrong About the Solar System!. By Kathleen V. Kudlinkski. Illus. by John Rocco. 2008. 32p. Dutton Juvenile, (978-0525469797). Gr. 4-5.
This fun book looks at the many mistakes and mishaps that have occurred in the past in regards to the planets and the solar system. It gives a lot of good information about how things were discovered and how some of the planets were named. The illustrations are also great!
Don't Know Much About The Solar System. By Kenneth C. Davis. Illus. by Pedro Martin. 2001. 48p. Harper Collins, (978-0064462303). Gr. 4-5.
This is a fun book to help students learn more about the solar system. Most of the pages contain general questions that students might have about the solar system, the universe etc. and answers them in ways that students can understand. All the planets are discussed and at the end they list off specifics about the distance of planets, duration of rotation etc.
Kingdom of the Sun. By Jacqueline Mitton. Illus. by Christina Balit. 2001. 32 pg. Frances Lincoln Limited, (978-0711219472). Gr. 4.
I LOVED this book. Not only are the illustrations awesome, they talk a lot about the different Gods associated with each planet. They describe the planets in relation to the characteristics of each God associated with it. I think this would be a great book to integrate into a mythology or Greek/Roman unit. This book includes Pluto.
Our Solar System. By Seymour Simon. 1992. 72 p. Morrow Junior Books, (978-0061140082).
This is a pretty advanced book about the solar system and all the planets. There are lots of great pictures but also a lot of text. Each planet is discussed in detail and there is a nice Index in the back for students to use if they wanted to focus on one planet or another aspect of the solar system. This book includes Pluto.
The Planets in Our Solar System. By Franklyn M. Branley. Illus. by Kevin O'Malley. 1998. 32p. Harper Collins, (978-0064451789). Gr 3-4.
This book is a straight forward story about the solar system and each of the planets. This book was written for lower grade levels so there is not a lot of lengthy explanation but lots of characteristics and facts about the planets. The end of the book also lists two fun activities for students to do. This does include Pluto.
Postcards From Pluto: A Tour of the Solar System. By Loreen Leedy.Illus. by author. 1993. 32p. Holiday House, (978-0823420650). Gr. 4-6.
This was another great book about the planets and the solar system. In this book, students take a tour of the solar system and write postcards back to their parents about what they learn. Each post card is distinct to the planet and the very last one has all the vocabulary that was mentioned.
This is a fun and unique website for students to study and explore the planets and the solar system. There are different tabs for each planet that list specifics to the planet with a picture. There are also several games for students to play to test vocabulary and order of the planets.
This is another NASA website where I found a great game for students to play. This game asks students to click on planet and then there is an exclamation point above it where they can read about and complete a mission.
This is a really neat website from NASA about the solar system and the planets. There are detailed photos and descriptions of each planet. This website is pretty interactive and would probably best be used as a visual or information tool for teachers when teaching about the planets and the solar system.
This is another great interactive website about our solar system and the planets. This is from the National Geographic so the pictures are great and there is TONS of information on each planet. There is also an option to find out how much you weigh on each planet, a fun activity for students.
This link takes you to a fun planet rap that you can teach to students to help them learn and remember the planets!
This is a great website for students. It is interactive and full of information on each of the planets. It also talks about the solar system as a whole.
Our Solar System: Facts, Formation and Discovery
I found this website would be a good fit for a teacher. It is very text heavy with a lot of vocabulary but I thought it had a lot of great information. You could easily use a lot of the pictures. There are also several videos that would be useful in the classroom.
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
Background Information from Curriculum Framework
- 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.