Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Up in the Sky

Cathy Burgess
Bay District Schools


In this lesson, students brainstorm what is in the day and night sky, as well as discover interesting facts about the sun.


The student uses complete sentences in writing.

The student writes simple informational texts (for example, two-step instructions in sequence, directions, reports).

The student knows that heat from the Sun has varying effects depending on the surface it strikes.

The student knows and differentiates objects seen in the day and night sky (for example, clouds, Sun, stars, Moon, planets).


Day 1
-Diagnostic Assessment-one for each student (see Extensions)
-12”x18” blue construction paper (one for each student)
-Lined or unlined writing paper (pick what best suits your students; about 10 pages per student)

Day 2
-Suggested book, [The Sun, Our Very Own Star], Jeanne Bendick, The Millbrook Press Inc. 1991
-Universe poster (Any one of your choosing)
-Word Wall
-Song, "Tuning Up for Outer Space" (Associated File)
-Chart paper
-Up in the Sky brainstorming chart or overhead transparency (Associated
-T-chart for day and night sky or overhead transparency (Associated File)
-Triangle sentence writing activity chart or overhead transparency (Associated File; laminate for reuse)
-Triangle sentence writing activity sheet (one for each student; see Associated File)
-Eye on the Sky science journal
-Large TV with Internet connection (optional; these are often available for check out from the school media center)
-Chalkboard or dry erase board

Day 3
-Suggested book, [Sun Up, Sun Down], Gail Gibbons, Voyager Books, 1983
-Suggested song, “Mr. Sun.” [Singable Songs for the Young], Raffi, Troubadour Records Ltd, 1976
-Suggested poem, “Big Round Sun” [1001 Fingerplays and Rhymes], Jeanne Warren, Warren Publishing House, 1996
-Solar mobile, Ideal School Supply, ISBN: 1-56451-889-2 (see Weblinks for ordering information)
-Yellow construction paper 9”x 12’’
-Sun pattern (one for each student)
-Red and orange liquid paint
-Marbles (10)
-Tin pie plates (5)
-Two 8 oz metal cans
-Flat black paint
-Paintbrush (one for teacher)
-2 thermometers
-Bright sunshine
-Scientific Method chart (see Associated File)
-Scientific Method activity sheet (see Associated File)
-Sun experiment #1 and #2 activity sheet (see Associated File)
-Chart paper
-Chalkboard, dry erase board, or overhead projector (use the one that best fits your presentation style)
-Science journal (created on day one)


Day 1

1. Duplicate the diagnostic assessment for each student.

2. Obtain blue 12”x 18” construction paper. Each child needs one piece.

3. Obtain lined or unlined writing paper. Each child needs 10 pieces for the writing journal.

4. You will need a stapler to staple the pages of the journal together.

5. If you would like the order the "Up in the Sky" song, it is found on the [Sesame Street Platinum, Too] CD, April 1997. See Weblinks for ordering information.

Day 2
1. Put up a word wall to use with this unit if one is not already in place.

2. Have the book, [The Sun, Our Very Own Star], ready to read (or choose another book about the sun.

3. Gather the universe poster and globe.

4. Write the song, “Tuning Up for Outer Space,” on chart paper.

5. Make the brainstorming, day and night sky, and triangle writing exercise charts or overhead transparencies. (Associated File)

6. Download and duplicate the triangle writing exercise activity sheet for students.

7. A chalkboard, dry erase board, or overhead projector is needed depending on the teacher's presentation style.

8. Optional: Large screen TV with Internet capabilities. These can usually be checked out at the school media center.

9. Have science journals available.

Day 3
1. Obtain the book, [Sun Up, Sun Down], have it ready to read (or collect other books about the sun).

2. Gather these materials for the sun experiment: two 8 oz. metal cans, two thermometers, water (to fill cans), and bright sunshine.

3. You need just enough black paint for one 8 oz. can and a paintbrush. The teacher paints the can before the experiment.

4. Song, “Mr. Sun,” written on chart paper with markers.

5. Poem, “Big Round Sun,” written on chart paper with markers.

6. Gather these materials for the sun marble art: several marbles, red paint, orange paint, 9” round tin pie pan, yellow construction paper 9 x 12.

7. Duplicate sun pattern for each student. (Associated File)

8. Duplicate Scientific method and the sun experiment activity sheet for each student. (Associated File)

9. Enlarge the scientific method chart on chart paper for the whole class to use together. Use the activity sheet from the Associated File.

10. Have a solar mobile to demonstrate sun and planets. (See Weblinks for online ordering if needed.)

11. Each student needs his or her science journal.


*Send home the Night Watcher’s Club observation sheet two weeks before you start the unit, so that students have a chance to observe the moon changing for a whole month.

Day 1 of Eye on the Sky unit

1. Begin the unit by giving the diagnostic assessment. (See Extensions for further information.)

2. After the diagnostic assessment, ask students why they think they have been observing the sky each night. Tell them they are about to begin a new unit called Eye in the Sky where they will learn about what surrounds the Earth and is up in the sky.

3. Next, hand out the construction paper and writing paper for students to make their Eye on the Sky science journals. Fold the construction paper in half so it opens like a book and staple the writing paper in. Have students design the cover of the science journals by

* Writing the title: Eye on the Sky.

* Writing their names on the bottom right side.

* Drawing anything that is up in the sky.

4. Take up the science journals.

Day 2 of the Eye on the Sky unit

Circle Time is a part of the day when the children gather together to participate in a variety of activities. It is usually on the floor in a designated area of the classroom other than desks.

Word Wall is a wall on which to display important words that students read and write frequently.

1. Call students to circle time. Tell students they are going to do a brainstorming activity about what is in the sky. Have them think for a minute, then write their responses on the chart. Give them time and encourage them to tell you everything they know.

2. Next ask: Can you find some similarities or ways some of these objects in the sky are alike so that we could group them together? (Hopefully someone will say day and night, but if not, steer them into that direction.)

3. Then label a t-chart Day Sky/Night Sky. Have students classify the brainstorming activity from above into two categories while you write their responses.

4. Review the list, asking students to describe the items seen in the day sky. Help students understand that objects such as birds, airplanes, and kites are considered “part of the earth” even though they are in the sky. The sun, clouds, and rainbows are “not part of the earth” because we have no control over them. They are always found in the sky. Tell them the planet we live on is in the sky, too. We live on Earth and that is why we cannot see it in the sky. But, if we were to go up into space we would see it. We could see it from the moon.

5. Ask: What do you think is the most important object in the day sky? (Someone should say the sun.) Ask: What do you know about the sun? Listen to student’s answers and suggest they find out more about the sun. Read and discuss, [The Sun, Our Very Own Star]pages 4-17. (Skip pages 18-21. That is more information than is needed for this lesson and you will lose students’ attention). Discuss these important vocabulary words and concepts from the book and add them to the Word Wall:

*Universe- The universe is everything around you. It is your home and everything around you. It’s the whole earth with everything on it, and the sun and moon, too. (Show the universe poster to give students a visual of this concept.)

*Earth- The Earth is the planet we live on. (Show the globe and tell them this is a model of Earth.)

*Sun- The sun is a star that lights the day, heats the Earth, and keeps the planets in their places.

6. (Optional) Use the large screen TV and computer with Internet access to connect to the Website showing the latest pictures of the sun. (See Weblinks) Tell students these pictures were taken with a telescope on the SOHO satellite. A satellite is an unmanned spacecraft. Remember the sun is a fiery ball of gas that is ten million degrees. It is very far from Earth: 93 million miles away! Talk about what you see from these pictures with students.

Say: Let’s write some sentences about what we’ve learned about so far. We need to work on writing complete sentences, so this unit, Eye on the Sky will be a good place to practice that. A sentence states a complete thought. For example: “The sun is in the sky” is a complete thought. It makes sense. “Sun sky” is not. It doesn’t make sense. Let’s try it again. “The sun is hot.” That statement makes sense. “Sun hot” doesn’t make sense.

* Tell students good sentences have nouns, verbs, adjectives, and are capitalized and punctuated.

* Nouns are “the who or what” of the sentence--usually a person, place, or thing.

* Verbs are the action. They finish the thought.

* Adjectives describe the noun. Adjectives give color, shape and size. They are the words that help you see what the author is talking about.

* Practice with this sentence: The small, yellow ball bounced down the street.

7. Draw a large triangle with a base of approximately four feet. Tell students you are going to the write the name of a noun at the top of the triangle. Model using the example in the associated file, page 8.

8. Have students practice writing complete sentences of their own. Hand out the triangle-writing activity sheet. Tell students to put the noun, sun, at the top and fill out the activity sheet. After you formatively assess students’ writing of complete sentences have them write their sentences in their science journals and illustrate them. Help those who are having trouble and praise those doing well.

9. Introduce and sing the song, “Tuning Up for Outer Space.” Sing it several times until students become familiar with it. Ask: What does this song have to do with today’s lesson?

10. To end the lesson, ask students to tell what they know about the day and night sky. Also ask them to tell you some facts about the sun. Formatively assess their oral answers. Look for statements like

* Sun, clouds, kites, planes, birds and rainbows are found in the day sky.

* Moon, clouds, planes, and stars are found in the night sky.

* The sun is a hot ball of gas.

* The sun is a star.

* The sun gives us heat and light.

Day 3 of the Eye on the Sky unit.

1. Begin today’s lesson by asking students to tell you what is found in the day and night sky. Show the solar mobile and explain how the Earth and the planets revolve around the sun. Remind students that the Earth is in the sky too. We can’t see it because we are standing on it. Look at the complete sentences the class wrote about the earth and sky. Talk about how sentences must have nouns and verbs and be a complete thought that makes sense. Go over how the triangle writing exercise helps make complete sentences.

2. Sing the song “Tuning Up for Outer Space.” Say: Let’s talk about the first verse. Ask: What are some things we know about the sun? Read the book [Sun Up, Sun Down] for more information. Tell students this book is nonfiction and gives information. It is different from a storybook. Discuss these important facts from this book about the sun that students should remember

*The sun gives us heat and light.

*The sun gives power and energy to make plants and trees grow.

*The sun is a ball of very hot glowing gases that keeps our planet warm. Earth would be dark and very cold without the sun.

*Never look directly at the sun. It is so hot and bright it can hurt your eyes.

3. Say: There is a fact about the sun we are going to concentrate on today. It’s that last part we just discussed on how the sun keeps our planet warm. Ask: Have you ever been outside in your yard or at the beach and felt the sun’s heat? Have you ever noticed how the temperature is different in different places? Do you know why?

4. We will do an experiment to find out why the heat from the sun has different effects depending on the surface it strikes. Set up the experiment by showing two cans. One is painted black and the other is a regular shiny can with nothing done to it. Fill both cans with water from the sink. Use a thermometer to determine the temperature of the water in the two cans. (It should be the same for both cans. Record it.)

(You will be using the scientific method mainly to get students familiar with the process and language. It is not to be used for grading purposes.)

*State the problem. The problem is usually stated in the form of a question. Does heat from the sun affect the temperature of the water differently in the black can vs. the shiny can?

*Hypothesis. (Tell what you think the answer to the problem is.) Examples: The temperature of the water in the cans will be different; the temperature of the water will be the same.

*Control the variables. Identify what things will change and what things will stay the same as they do the experiment. For example, the amount of water and the placement of the cans in the sunlight are variables that you want to be the same.

*Test the hypothesis. Put both cans side by side on a sheet of cardboard out in the bright sunlight.

*Collect data. After an hour, determine the temperature of the water in both cans. Record it. Continue to measure the temperature of the water in the two cans at one-hour intervals. In which can does the temperature change the most?

How does the color of the can affect the absorption of solar energy? (How hot the water gets.)

5. While you are collecting the data for the experiment, introduce students to a new song and poem. Play the cd with the song “Mr. Sun.” Sing it several times so students become familiar with it. Also introduce the poem “Big Round Sun.” Read it to the students and teach the motions. Track the text as you read aloud, identifying science words like sun, sky, shine, and cloud.

6. Next make sun marble paintings. First students must cut out a sun using the sun pattern. Then have them put the sun in a pie pan. Dip 1 marble in red paint and 1 marble in orange paint and place them in the pie pan on top of the sun. Roll the marbles around the sun. The red and orange paint make the sun look like it has hot gas shooting from it like the pictures they saw in books and the Internet. Set them aside to dry and then hang them up in the room.

7. Have students check the temperature of the water, as enough time should have passed to begin to see a difference (suggested time is 1 hour). Record the temperature on the chart. Talk about what students have observed so far.

8. Check the temperature again later in the day. Record the temperature on the chart. Then

* Discuss conclusions. The water temperature from the black can was hotter than the water temperature from the shiny can. That means the black color absorbs more of the sun’s energy, making the water temperature hotter.

* Compare conclusion to the hypothesis. Were you correct? What did you learn? Formatively assess students’ answers. Listen for statements like

*The water temperature in the black can is hotter than the water in the shiny can.

*That means the sun makes black or dark things hotter.

*The sun has different effects depending on the surface it strikes.

*Dark objects will be hotter when the sun shines on them.

*Talk about this affects students lives, especially in the summer (dark clothing, dark cars etc).

9. End the lesson by instructing students on how to write about the sun experiment in their journals. First, all reports need a title. Tell them this needs to be simple information about the experiment with about four sentences written in order. Tell them: The sentences must only be about the experiment or facts and nothing else. A person shouldn’t write, “ The experiment was fun.” Or “The sun looks big.” The sentences must be facts or true statements about the experiment. Do this together on the board or overhead soliciting the information from students. An example would look like this:

Sun Experiment #1

Today we did an experiment with the sun. We put water in a black can and a shiny can. We set them out in the sun. We found out the water in the black can was warmer. This happens because the sun has different effects depending on the surface it strikes.

10. Remind students that reports must

*Have a title

*Have about four sentences.

*Have factual or true statements.

*Be in sequential order.

11. Also tell them to write complete sentences. Show the triangle-writing chart and go back over the steps of writing a complete sentence. The sentences should use these criteria:

* It makes sense.

* Needs a noun, which tells who or what the sentence is about. It’s a person place or thing.

* Needs a verb that shows action or finishes the thought.

* Needs an adjective that describes.

* Adds a, an, or the.

* Correct capitalization and punctuation.

Walk around and observe students as they write about the sun experiment in their journals. Formatively assess students' ability to write simple reports and writing using complete sentences. Help individuals who are having a hard time with more one-on-one instruction. Also look for a statement about how the sun affects different objects it strikes.



Day 1
Diagnostic Assessment. See Extensions for further information.

Day 2
Formatively assess that students know and differentiate objects seen in the day and night sky by observing answers given in procedures #2, 3, and 11. Look for statements like

* Sun, clouds, kites, planes, birds, and rainbows are found in the day sky.

* Stars are in the day sky, we just can’t see them except for the sun which is a star.

* Moon, clouds, planes, and stars are found in the night sky.

Formatively assess students using complete sentences on the sun in writing by observing procedure #8. Check to see that they are using the triangle exercise and that the sentences have nouns, verbs, adjectives and make sense. If they don’t, give specific feedback on what needs to be improved and allow students an opportunity to redo.

Day 3
Formatively assess that students knows that heat from the sun has varying effects depending on the surface it strikes by the answers they give in procedures #8 and #9. Specifically look for how the sun has different effects on objects it strikes.

Formatively assess students using complete sentences in writing by observing sentences written in science journals in procedure #9. Specifically look for
* Sentences that make sense and are complete.
* Sentences have a noun, which tells who or what the sentence is about. It’s a person place or thing.
* Sentences have a verb that shows action or finishes the thought.
* Sentence have an adjective that describes.
* Additional words like a, an, or the are added appropriately.
* Sentences are capitalized and punctuated correctly.

Formatively assess that students know and differentiate objects seen in the day and night sky by teacher observation in procedure #1. Listen for statements like:
*In the day sky we see the sun, clouds, rainbows, birds, kites and planes.
*In the night sky we see the moon, stars, clouds, planes, and planets.

Formatively assess that students write simple informational texts in their journals about the experiment. Their writing should have a title with four sentences, facts about the experiment, and the sequence that it happened.


1. Have students share their sentences about the sun with a partner. Partners should check sentences for nouns, verbs and to see if they make sense.

2. Make sunshine cookies for a snack. Use two lemon cookies, yellow frosting, and pretzels sticks. Use frosting to attach the cookies together, one on top of the other. Then dip each pretzel stick end into the frosting and attach as the rays of the sun. Students love to eat sunshine cookies and write about them in their journals.

3. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page. (Or by using the URL Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Attached Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

Web Links

This site has pictures of the sun.
Pictures of the Sun

This Weblink shows where teachers can purchase the sun mobile.
Sun Mobile

Attached Files

Handouts for this lesson     File Extension: pdf

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