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Use these planets lesson plans as part of a unit on the planets or on the solar system. It makes a great cumulative project. This lesson can also be used on its own to teach students about what makes a planet. Students will love becoming astronomers and getting to be creative when making their own planets.
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Our Solar System (revised edition) by Seymour Simon or Science textbook
Construction paper (9x12)
Modeling clay (optional)
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Ask students to name the planets in our solar system and their order going away from the sun.
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Review the characteristics of the planets. You can do this using your science textbook or Our Solar System. Ask students to name them and list them on the overhead or chalkboard. Be sure to include that a planet moves through the sky, it has moons orbiting it, and it revolves around the sun.
Ask students if they know what an astronomer is. Tell students that an astronomer is someone who studies space, including the planets.
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Tell students that today they are becoming astronomers. They are exploring space and have discovered a new planet. Students will get to create their own planets. They must draw a picture of their planet. Tell students that they must include the characteristics of a planet, which you listed above. They must decide where in the solar system their planet will be located.
Give them other choices about what to include with their planets. Allow them to decide whether their planet will support life, have water, what kind of gravitational pull it will have. Remind them the gravitational pull has to do where their planet is in relation to the sun.
Create a rubric together as a class that has five categories, with each category worth twenty points. Some category suggestions include grading on accuracy, presentation, staying on task, and neatness.
Pass out the construction paper, crayons, and markers. Have students create a poster of their planet. You can also have students use modeling clay to make a model of their planet instead and write up a description of their planet.
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Have students present their planets to the class. Have them tell the class about how they set up their planets. After students have finished their presentation, have them grade themselves on the rubric that you created. Then, you use the rubrics to grade them too.
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Teach about other aspects of space. Teach about characteristics of stars and about our solar system.
You can even find more planets lesson plans right here at Bright Hub!