3.3.3.1 Sun & Moon

Grade: 
3
Subject:
Science
Strand:
Earth & Space Science
Substrand:
Evolution in Living Systems
Standard 3.3.3.1

The sun and moon have locations and movements that can be observed and described.

Benchmark: 3.3.3.1.1 Sun Observations

Observe and describe the daily and seasonal changes in the position of the sun and compare observations.

Benchmark: 3.3.3.1.2 Moon Shapes & Positions

Recognize the pattern of apparent changes in the moon's shape and position.

Overview

Standard in Lay Terms 

MN Standard in Lay Terms

What patterns do the sun and moon make in the sky and how to do those positions affect what we see on Earth?

Big Ideas and Essential Understandings 

Big Idea

The sun has observable positional patterns.  The moon changes position and appearance and these changes can be seen from Earth.

Note: Students should understand reflected light before they can be expected to understand the phases of the moon. (Benchmarks for Science Literacy)

Benchmark Cluster 

MN Standard Benchmarks

3.3.3.1.1  Observe and describe the daily and seasonal changes in the position of the sun and compare observations.  (This benchmark has a clear link to the 3rd Grade Physical Science Benchmark 3.2.3.1.2 Explain how shadows can form in various ways.)

3.3.3.1.2  Recognize the pattern of apparent changes in the moon's shape and position.  (This Benchmark has a clear link to the 3rd Grade Physical Science Benchmark 3.2.3.1.3 Describe how light travels in a straight line until it is absorbed, redirected, reflected or allowed to pass through an object.)

Correlations 
  • NSES Standards:
  • Earth and Space Science, Content Standard D

  • As a result of their activities in grades K-4, all students should develop an understanding of
    • Objects in the sky
    • Changes in earth and sky
  • Developing Student Understanding from the website:
  • As children become more familiar with their world, they can be guided to observe changes, including cyclic changes, such as night and day and the seasons.  By observing the day and night sky regularly, children in grades K-4 will learn to identify sequences of changes and to look for patterns in these changes.  As they observe changes, such as the movement of an object's shadow during the course of a day, and the positions of the sun and the moon, they will find the patterns in these movements.  They can draw the moon's shape for each evening on a calendar and then determine the pattern in the shapes over several weeks.
  • AAAS Atlas:

Galaxies and the Universe

Solar System

Stars

Waves

  • The patterns of stars in the sky stay the same, although they appear to move across the sky nightly, and different stars can be seen in different seasons. 4A/E1 (ID: SMS-BMK-0126)
  • The rotation of the earth on its axis every 24 hours produces the night-and-day cycle.  To people on earth, this turning of the planet makes it seem as though the sun, moon, planets, and stars are orbiting the earth once a day.  4B/E2bc (ID: SMS-BMK-1759)
  • The earth is one of several planets that orbit the sun, and the moon orbits around the earth.  4A/E4 (ID: SMS-BMK-0129)
  • Light travels and tends to maintain its direction of motion until it interacts with an object or material.  Light can be absorbed, redirected, bounced back, or allowed to pass through.  (ID: SMS-BMK-1829)
  • Benchmarks of Science Literacy

    • By the end of 2nd grade:
      • The moon looks a little different every day but looks the same again about every four weeks.  4A/P3
    • By the end of 5th grade:
      • The patterns of stars in the sky stay the same, although they appear to move across the sky nightly, and different stars can be seen in different seasons. 4A/E1
      • The earth is one of several planets that orbit the sun, and the moon orbits around the earth.  4A/E4

Common Core Standards

  • The College and Career Readiness Anchor standards can be incorporated into this standard in many ways:
    • Text Types and Purposes
    • Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. 
    • Students can write about why their shadows change shape and size and justify it based on evidence they have collected in their science notebooks. (Benchmark 3.3.1.1)
  • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
    • Students can write to inform a friend about why the moon changes its shape and position in the sky.  (Benchmark 3.3.3.1.2)
  • Write narratives and other creative texts to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
    • Students can write an extension to the story The Moon Rope: A Peruvian Folktale by Lois Elhart.  (Benchmark 3.3.3.1.2)

Misconceptions

Student Misconceptions 
  • Explanations of the day-night cycle, the phases of the moon, and the seasons are very challenging for students.  To understand these phenomena, students should first master the idea of a spherical earth, itself a challenging task.
  • Students must understand the concept of "light reflection" and how the moon gets its light from the sun before they can understand the phases of the moon.
  • Students may not be able to understand explanations of any of these phenomena before they reasonably understand the relative size, motion, and distance of the sun, moon and the earth.

Vignette

Adapted from Vinent, D, & Cassel, D. (2011, January). Shadows that Enlighten. Science and Children, 48(5), 50-54.  Fits with Benchmark 3.3.3.1.1

Understanding shadows is a great opportunity to integrate phenology with students and help students recognize that scientific investigations often take much longer than a few days.  Ms. Shade begins the school year by giving each of her students a "shadow journal."  Before beginning observations, she integrates math by reviewing measurement with students.  Each week on the same day and same time, Ms. Shade takes the students outside to measure their shadows and record the data in their journal.  They also record the date and time in order to graph their data at a later time.  Throughout the year, Ms. Shade allows time for students to discuss the observations they are making.  Some students notice that their shadows are growing and begin commenting on this during their observations.  A few students believe the change is caused by their height changing, yet another few students attribute the change to incorrect measurements.  Very few students recognized that the sun is changing its position in the sky.  Ms. Shade chooses not to correct their misconceptions at this time.  During spring observations, students notice that their shadows are shrinking, which challenges their misconception that they are getting taller.  Now more students are starting to realize that the position of the sun is affecting their shadow.  To better help students understand this concept, Ms. Shade brings in flashlights to model the sun and small figures to model the students.  As the class wraps up the investigation, students graph their data and start building theories.  Ms. Shade challenges students to draw a diagram of the sun and the earth to show the change in the size of their shadows.  Students' misconceptions of what causes their shadows to change stemmed from their misconceptions about what causes the changing of the seasons.  Ms. Shade uses their explanations and diagrams to develop further questioning and investigations related to the position of the sun.  Finally, she brings in technology on the classroom set of iTouches.  Students use the "planets" app to explore and explain how the location of the sun changes in relation to the earth.  Ms. Shade wraps up the investigation by having students explain the changes in their shadows to the class.

Resources

Instructional Notes 

Suggested Labs and Activities

  • Moon Flip Book: Benchmark 3.3.3.1.2 American Museum of Natural History Ology  Phases of the Moon
  • Does the Moon Rotate?  
  • Interactive Moon Phases
  • Lunar Cycle 1: Calendar Benchmark 3.3.3.1.2
  • Description: This tool includes printable calendars on which students can record their observations of the moon.  In addition, it provides illustrations of the phases of the moon (a full lunar cycle) that can be printed, cut out, and given to students, allowing for a hands-on activity in which students place the phases of the moon in the correct sequence on a calendar.
  • Sky 2: Shadows
  • From the website: Purpose: To investigate shadows, using literature-based discussion as well as experiences with manipulating shadows.  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. (Benchmark 3.3.3.1.1)
  • Sky 3: Modeling Shadows
  • From the website: Purpose: To demonstrate understanding of shadows by creating a physical model of concepts learned.  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.  (Benchmark 3.3.3.1.1)
  • Foss: Sun, Moon, and Stars Kit Activities
  • The Sun
  • Students use a compass to study the position of the sun in the sky at different times during the day.  They observe the sun's position, record, make predictions, and make new observations later in the day to check their predictions.  Students explore shadows created by blocking sunlight on the schoolyard.  They trace shadows, predict where shadows will be later in the day, and return to check their predictions.  Students read about the changing position of the sun in the sky. (Benchmark 3.3.1.1)
  • The Moon
  • Students observe the moon in the sky during the day and night for a period of four weeks.  They record the appearance of the moon and analyze the data to discover a sequence of changes, the lunar cycle.  Students learn the names of the moon phases and how to predict the next step in the sequence.  Concepts are reinforced through simulations, readings, a video, and writing.  (Benchmark 3.3.1.2)
Instructional Resources 

Instructional Suggestions/Options

  • Accessing your students' prior knowledge of space through discussion, graphic organizers or journaling is important.  This aids in understanding your students' knowledge base, linking your instruction, assessing and addressing student misconceptions.
  • The use of science notebooks (as in these examples), this site is valuable for students to record and organize their observations of the sky, weather patterns, and shadows.  Students should use their science notebook to make drawings of their shadows throughout the year.  They should make diagrams to show the patterns of the moon, and tables and graphs to chart shadow data.  The science notebook is also a permanent record to show changes over time to use in their analysis of the universe.   
  • Learn more about the use of science notebooks.
  • Teaching about space involves many types of diagrams, tables and charts.  It is valuable to explicitly teach and model how to read and interpret these visuals, and have students practice making their own.  See McTigue E. & Flowers A. (2011). Science visual literacy: Learners' perceptions and knowledge of diagrams. The Reading Teacher, 64 (8), pp. 578-589 for more information about how to teach about reading diagrams.
  • From Benchmarks Online:
    • Some ideas about light and sight are prerequisite to understanding astronomical phenomena.  Children should learn early that a large light source at a great distance looks like a small light source that is much closer.  This phenomenon should be observed directly (and, if possible, photographically) outside at night.  How things are seen by their reflected light is a difficult concept for children at this age, but is probably necessary for them to learn before phases of the moon will make sense.
New Vocabulary 

Vocabulary/Glossary

See: Sun, Moon, and Stars Glossary Definitions CR 2009

  • Cycle: a set of events or actions that repeat in a predictable pattern.
  • Day: the time between sunrise and sunset on Earth when it is light.
  • Night: the time between sunset and sunrise on Earth when it is dark.
  • Predictable: to estimate accurately in advance based on a pattern or previous knowledge.
  • Satellite: an object, such as a moon, that orbits another object, such as a planet.
  • Season: the four times during the year that bring predictable weather conditions to a region on Earth.  The four seasons are spring, summer, fall, and winter.
  • Shadow: the dark area behind an object that blocks light.  (TG, SRB)
  • Solar system: the sun and the planets and other objects that orbit the sun.
  • Telescope: an optical instrument that makes objects appear closer and larger.
  • Unaided eyes: looking at something without the use of a telescope or microscope.

Sun Vocabulary

  • Orbit: to move or travel around an object in a curved path.  Earth orbits the sun.
  • Star: a huge sphere of hydrogen and helium that radiates heat and light.  The sun is a star.
  • Sun: the star around which Earth and other planets orbit.
  • Sunlight: light from the sun.
  • Sunrise: the time of day when the sun is coming over the horizon in the east.
  • Sunset: the time of day when the sun is going below the horizon in the west.

Moon Vocabulary

  • Crescent: a word used to describe the curved shape of the visible part of the moon before and after a new moon.
  • First-quarter Moon: a phase of the moon in the lunar cycle halfway between a new moon and a full moon.  The moon appears to be a "half moon" as seen from Earth.
  • Full Moon: a phase of the moon in the lunar cycle when all of the sunlit side of the moon is visible from Earth.
  • Gibbous: a word used to describe the moon when it appears to be more than half but less than full.
  • Lunar cycle: the 4-week period during which the moon orbits Earth one time and goes through all of its phases.
  • Moon: Earth's natural satellite.
  • New Moon: the phase of the moon in the lunar cycle when the sunlit side of the moon is not visible from Earth.
  • Orbit: to move or travel around an object in a curved path.  The moon orbits Earth.
  • Phase: the shape of the visible part of the moon.
  • Reflect: to bounce off an object or surface.  Light reflects from the moon.
  • Third-quarter Moon: the phase of the moon in the lunar cycle halfway between the full moon and the new moon.  The moon appears from Earth to be a "half moon."
  • Waning: getting smaller.
  • Waxing: getting larger.
Technology Connections 
  • Amazing Space is a set of web-based activities primarily designed for classroom usage.  All lessons are interactive and have actual photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.  Each activity has an overview, lesson plan, links to the National Science Education Standards, science background, and other resources and links.  Downloadable worksheets are included.

  • KidsAstronomy.com was created by astronomy buff and elementary school teacher Hiram Bertoch.  The site is kid-friendly, balancing text and tech, interactive, visually pleasant, and content rich; a great learning resource that is fun to explore.
  • Lunar Cycle 2: The Challenge. This tool is an online activity in which students "drag" moons to their correct places in lunar cycles. There are calendars that include illustrations of the phases of the moon for most days, and the challenge is for students to complete the calendars by filling them with the correct moon phases for all days.  A child's voice narrates the activity, providing students with ongoing feedback and guidance (e.g., "Well done!" and "Check for a pattern"). There are three levels in this Lunar Cycle Challenge, and after students successfully complete all three levels they can print out a certificate of completion. There is also a printable version of this tool, allowing for a hands-on activity in which students manipulate illustrations of the phases of the moon, placing them in the correct sequence in lunar cycles.

  • Images for use in your classroom and instruction.
  • Students can create science and investigation posters, including these examples for the Earth Sciences.

Assessment

Assessment of Students

  • Jane sees the moon in the sky one clear night. It looks like the following picture.

What will the moon look like three nights later if there are no clouds in the sky?  (Level 2, Benchmark 3.3.3.1.2)

a. 

b. 

c. 

d. 

                        Correct answer: a

            (Taken from this siteTaxonomic Level: Application)

  • Which of the following best explains why the sun appears to move across the sky every day? (Level 3, Benchmark 3.3.3.1.1)

a.       The sun rotates on its axis.

b.       Earth rotates on its axis.

c.       The sun orbits around Earth.

d.       Earth orbits around the sun.

Correct answer: d

(Taken from this site Taxonomic Level: Synthesis)

  • Jennifer drew what the moon looked like just after sunset every third or fourth night.  Her drawings for the nights she observed the moon are shown below. (Level 1, Benchmark 3.3.3.1.2)

On Night 11, the clouds were so thick that Jennifer could not see the moon.

Based on the drawings for the other nights, what would Jennifer have seen on Night 11 if the sky were clear?

A. 

B. 

C. 

D. 

 The correct answer is D.

(Taken from this site Taxonomic Level: knowledge)

  • Juan is playing outside on a sunny day.  He notices that while he plays, his shadow changes shape and size and he wonders why.  Explain to him why his shadow looks different at different times of the day. (Level 4, Benchmark 3.3.3.1.1)

Answer: His shadow is changing because the earth is rotating around the sun and the position of the sun is changing in relation to where he is.

(Taxonomic Level: analysis)

  • PaHoua sees the moon in the sky one night. (Level 3, Benchmark 3.3.3.1.2)

Look at the four diagrams below.

Jane stands in the same spot to observe the Moon two hours later. Which diagram shows what she will most likely see?

1.    A

2.    B

3.    C

4.    D

Answer: B

(Taken from this site Taxonomic Level: Analysis)

Assessment of Teachers

Questions could be used as self-reflection or in professional development sessions.

  • Assessment Probes
  • Moonlight (Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Vol 4, Keeley, P. and Tugel, J. NSTA Press, 2010.  pp. 161-165)
  • Gazing at the Moon (Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Vol 1, Keely, P, Eberle, F and Farrin, L. NSTA Press, 2005. pp. 177-183)
  • Going Through a Phase (Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Vol 1, Keely, P, Eberle, F and Farrin, L. NSTA Press, 2005. pp. 183-187)

Differentiation

Struggling Learners 

Struggling and At-Risk

Sky 2: Shadows

From the website: Purpose: To investigate shadows, using literature-based discussion as well as experiences with manipulating shadows.  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. (Benchmark 3.3.3.1.1)

English Language Learners 

Students create drawings of the various phases of the moon and label them with the appropriate words.  Give students multiple opportunities to interact with the drawings and vocabulary in reading, writing, listening and speaking.  Give sentence frames such as The moon is in the _____________ phase.  The moon changes from a ______________ to a _______________ . (Benchmark 3.3.3.1.2)

Extending the Learning 

Explore Reasons for Seasons to Solve a Mystery.

From the website: As spring sweeps across the Northern Hemisphere, day length changes everywhere on Earth.  Mystery Class is a global game of hide-and-seek.  Students follow sunlight clues to find ten secret sites located around the world.  As students solve the mystery, they discover the reasons for seasons.  (Benchmark 3.3.3.1.1)

Multi-Cultural 

Read a cultural story about the moon: Moon Rope: A Peruvian Folk Tale by Lois Elhert (also available in Spanish as Un Lazo a La Luna) and discuss fox and mole's plan to lasso the moon.  Discuss the phases of the moon and what phase fox and mole needed for their plan to be successful.  (Benchmark 3.3.3.1.2)

Special Education 

Lunar Cycle 2: The Challenge. This tool is an online activity in which students "drag" moons to their correct places in lunar cycles. There are calendars that include illustrations of the phases of the moon for most days, and the challenge is for students to complete the calendars by filling them with the correct moon phases for all days.  A child's voice narrates the activity, providing students with ongoing feedback and guidance (e.g., "Well done!" and "Check for a pattern"). There are three levels in this Lunar Cycle Challenge, and after students successfully complete all three levels they can print out a certificate of completion. There is also a printable version of this tool, allowing for a hands-on activity in which students manipulate illustrations of the phases of the moon, placing them in the correct sequence in lunar cycles.

Parents/Admin

Classroom Observation 

Administrators

An administrator would see students observing light in various ways, such as reflection off of surfaces.  Administrators should also see students using hands-on models of the moon to make observations of the various phases.  They should see students outside making observations of the sun.

Parents 

With your child, observe the phases of the moon and keep a moon log, drawing and naming the phases of the moon.  Or a technological option would be to download Google's Moon Phase gadget to your computer or Live Moon Pro to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch available for free on iTunes.  Have your child check it periodically and discuss the phase of the moon.

Comments

Idea

Maybe to help integrate a vingette about Stonehedge might be helpful.