Are you looking for a fun way to teach your students about the individual planets, dwarf planets, comets and more? Teaching about planets and the solar system in 2nd grade or 3rd grade is such an engaging and fun topic. I love to incorporate this exciting science unit into the end of the year reading units.
I wait until the end of the year because the vocabulary can get pretty intensive, and I want to be sure that my students can fully grasp the concepts we are talking about.
Lesson Plan Layout:
Typically, I start the unit by watching a fun video about the Solar System or by reading one of my favorite Solar System Read Alouds.
Each day, we learn about a different planet or Dwarf Planet (Pluto still counts)! National Geographic Kids has great passages that students can read, Epic! Books has great free resources, and there are many great nonfiction books about each planet as well.
If you do not have enough copies for every student, let students pick which planets they do each day, or rotate them through the books to be sure they each get to them all.
I really encourage teachers to use real texts as opposed to typed up information, so students can engage with actual pictures, graphs, diagrams and more.
Main Idea and Key Details
So what are students looking for? I have them researching the main idea and key details about each planet. Key details include how many moons a planet has, how far it is from the sun, what it is made out of, what it looks like, the temperature and interesting facts.
After students have taken notes, I like to have them turn their notes into a multiple sentence summary about each planet. This assures that they can apply the knowledge they have acquired.
We do this each day until we run out of planets. We also learn about the Sun, Pluto and other important solar system components.
Students LOVE to create diagrams of the solar system. I typically will pair their diagram with the typed up or written summaries that we worked on, then put them on display in the hallway. This is a GREAT display during conferences, or for other students to see.
Students can complete their diagram at home or at school. It can be done in a shoe box, on a poster board, or in other creative ways!
Solar System Resources:
Do you teach the solar system in 2nd grade or 3rd grade? What are your favorite activities to accompany this unit? Drop them in the comments below!