In this lesson, students use both print and digital resources to gather facts about space and Earth’s solar system.
Each student will use a reference source to gather ten facts about space or Earth’s solar system. Each student will also make a simple drawing to illustrate one of the facts.
Students will use either a print or digital source to gather ten facts about space or Earth’s solar system. Students should phrase the facts in their own words. They should choose facts about a variety of topics since this is a “tuning-in” lesson.
Explain to the children that because they have started a new Unit of Inquiry, today they will be “tuning in” to the unit with a factfinding mission. Each student will need to choose either a digital or print resource and gather ten facts about space or Earth’s solar system.
Introduce Almanacs: Almanacs are collections of useful facts, arranged for easy access, and quite often published with eye-catching colors, tables, charts, and graphs. Explain how the table of contents is organized and how you can, in a matter of seconds, put your finger on a lot of information. Have about 10 to12 almanacs on hand should students choose to use them.
Introduce the DK Find Out website: Explain that DK Find Out is like an online almanac. It is a website made by a respected publisher, and it also provides easy access to lots of facts. Demonstrate how to use DK Find Out, select “Space”, and then make choices based on the visual icons or photos.
Students take about 20 to 25 minutes to explore the almanac or website and gather ten facts. Check their spellings and make sure that English Language Learners have support, as a lot of the vocabulary may be new and specialized.
Once students have gathered their facts, check their work to make sure that there are no spelling errors or other glaring mistakes.
Once the facts are reviewed by a teacher or teaching assistant, students may choose a half-sheet of paper and illustrate one of their facts. If you teach this lesson close to the beginning of the year, the illustration can easily be put on a browser card. Students can write the fact they are illustrating somewhere at the bottom of the illustration.
Wrap up by having the students tuck their ten facts into their Unit of Inquiry notebooks. Remind the students of some of the basic differences between print and digital resources – let them comment about their experiences using the resources in the lesson today. Make a small display of their artwork to showcase their efforts.
- Computer or digital device with access to DK Find Out, https://www.dkfindout.com/uk/
- Scholastic Kids’ Almanac or National Geographic Kids’ Almanac
- Lined paper on which to write facts
- Half sheets of yellow, white, or dark purple paper
- Markers, colored pencils, and crayons or oil pastels
Students reading below grade level or who are English Language Learners will need extra support when gathering facts. For some of them, the reading is quite difficult. Those students may only gather five facts, but every student should be able to come up with at least five facts.
I have found that the artistic extension is a lot of fun for the kids. I’ve seen students fill their pages with our own solar system, putting planets in perfect order and adding moons or rings to the correct planet. I’ve also seen kids make a solar system “mash-up” and include a comet, black hole, rocket ship (complete with alien), stars, sun, planets – everything they can think of.
The artistic extension balances the reading, fact finding, and note-taking. (See attached student work sample.)
Recommended books for this lesson:
- Scholastic Kids’ Almanac, or
- National Geographic Kids’ Almanac
Space, Solar System, Planets, Earth, Galaxy, Astronauts, Space Shuttle, Space Station, Print Resources, Digital Resources