Lesson Plans for OUR SOLAR SYSTEM level S

Text Type:
Fact / Informational Text

Reading Level:

Word Count:


Text Summary
Our Solar System is an informational text that compares and contrasts the planets, as well as describing comets, asteroids, and other features in space. Each page describing a planet includes a "Do You Know?" box that tells what a 70-lb. child would weigh on that planet.

Suggested Lesson Focus
Comprehension/Literary Element Strategies

Compare and contrast information.

Word Skills
Define characteristics of a concept.

Grammar Skills
Identify subject and predicate in simple sentences.

Phonics Skills
Identify words with the same endings and write them in sentences to show their meanings.

Targeted Vocabulary Words
rotate, approximately, unique

Before Reading

Introducing the Book
Hand out the books and have children read the title and the table of contents to make an informed prediction about the content of The Solar System.
Ask: What do you expect to learn about the solar system from reading this book?
Ask children what they already know about the solar system.
Say and ask: Share with the group what you already know about the solar system. What do you know about the sun? Do you know the difference between the inner and the outer planets? How many planets can you name? What do you think inner and outer refers to? Would you expect the Earth to be an inner or an outer planet? Do you know the name of a comet?

Build Background
Have children turn to page 28 and read the bold face glossary terms.
Ask: Are there any words that you are unable to pronounce? Which of these words do you already know the meaning of? Which of these words are new to you?
Have children read the definitions and discuss any that they are still unclear about. Discuss the following words: rotate, approximately, unique. Ensure that children know the meanings of these words before they begin reading the text.

Book Walk
Have children turn to page 4 and read the first two sentences.
Ask: Did you know that there were so many moons in the solar system? Does this knowledge surprise you?
Have children scan the rest of the page to find out which are the inner and which are the outer planets.
Ask: What do you now know about inner and outer planets?
Have children read the first sentence under the subhead The Sun. Have them explain in their own words what the sun is and does. Have children turn to page 8 and scan the text for the numerals.
Say: Read the sentences with 88 and 365 in them. What do these sentences tell you? What do they compare? What does the sentence with 59 in it compare?
Have children turn to page 10 and scan for the numerals. Then ask them what these sentences compare. Have children turn to page 13 and scan the first sentence to find out the size of the moon.
Ask: Compared to Earth, how big is the moon?
Have children turn to page 15.
Say: Read the last two sentences and then share with the group what you found out and what is being compared.
Have children read the last two sentences on page 17.
Ask: What have you learned? What is being compared?
Have children turn to page 24. Have them scan the text to find out the name of the most famous comet.
Ask: Were you right when you named a comet before we started looking at the book?
Have children return to page 4.

During Reading

Say: This book compares and contrasts the planets in our solar system. As you read, I want you to think about what is the same and what is different among the planets, because we will discuss them when you have finished reading. But first, I want to you to read the introduction to find out the comparative sizes of some of the things in our solar system. Remember to use the illustrations, photos, and diagrams to assist you with your understanding.
When children have read the introduction, ask: Can you now imagine the relative difference in size between the sun and our moon?
Have children read pages 6 and 7.
Say: Read the section on the sun. Be prepared to discuss what new information you learn from reading these two pages.
Have children read page 8.
Say: As you read page 8, I want you to think about what information is being compared and contrasted. When you have finished the page, you should be able to answer these questions. Which is closest to the sun, Mercury or Earth? Which planet takes the longest to orbit the sun, Mercury or Earth? Which planet has the longest day, Mercury or Earth?
Have children read the section on Venus.
Say: Read the section on Venus and then be prepared to compare and contrast some facts about Venus, Earth, and Mercury.
Have children read the rest of the book independently. Have them mark with a sticky note any word or phrase they do not understand or cannot pronounce. You can clarify these later. During this time, you may choose to work with another group. Alternatively, you may wish to work individually with some children to monitor their oral reading and comprehension of parts of the text.
Say: I want you to finish reading the book at your own pace. As you read, I want you to stop at the end of each section to think about the new information that you are learning. Pay particular attention to the similarities and differences among the planets. When you have finished reading, we are going to compare and contrast the planets in our solar system.

Using the Worksheet
Introduce and explain the Worksheet. Have children start work on the Worksheet as they finish reading the text.

After Reading

Comprehending the Text
Draw the group together again to compare and contrast the planets.
Say and ask: Let’s talk about the planets that revolve around our sun. Which is the biggest planet? Which is the smallest? Which is closest to the sun? Which is farthest away? Which planet has the longest day? Which has the shortest? Which planets are hot? Which planets are cold? Which planets have moons? Which planets have seasons like the Earth? Which planets have storms? Which planets are very similar?
Discuss asteroids and comets.
Ask: What are asteroids? Where are most asteroids found? What do you call an asteroid that enters the Earth’s atmosphere? What are comets? What are the differences between asteroids and comets?
Ask children how stopping at the end of each section and thinking about the similarities and differences as they read, helped them with their understanding of the text.

Lead children in a discussion about the universe. Explain that our solar system orbits around one star, and there are many other stars in the universe. To begin a critical thinking discussion, say: We orbit around one star called the sun. There are many other stars in the sky when we look outside at night. Ask: If there are other stars, are there other planets? Do you think there is another planet like Earth in the universe? Have children think about the notion of other solar systems, planets and stars. You can discuss space exploration, astronomy, or any ideas children come up with on their own.

Building Skills

Phonological Awareness
Discuss the meaning of the word satellite. Draw a Frayer Model on the board and write the word satellite in the center. Work with children to fill in the chart. For example:

A body that orbits a planet.

May be natural or man made
Moves in a fixed orbit
Non examples

planets, rockets
moons, comets, metsats, comsats

Have children complete the Worksheet.

Phonics/Vocabulary Skills
Write the words asteroid and meteoroid on the board.
Say and ask: Look at these words. What is the same about them? What letter patterns are common to both words?
Ask children the meaning of the words.
Ask: Who can use asteroid and meteoroid in a sentence to show their meanings?
Ask children if the know any other words that have the oid ending. List them on the board. Explain that the suffix –oid means like. For example—planet + oid = planet-like.
Discuss any that they offer that have the same sound but a different spelling—for example, annoyed, destroyed. If children are unable to think of any words, give them clues—for example, I’m thinking of a word that is a type of camera that instantly develops the photo after you shoot it. It starts with P. It’s called a ____ (Polaroid). I’m thinking of a word that describes newspapers that report sensational stories. These newspapers are called ____ (tabloids).

Discuss sentences with children.
Say: Simple sentences are made up of two parts, a noun phrase that is the subject, and a verb phrase called a predicate.
Write the following sentence on the board: The sun is a huge ball of burning gas. Demonstrate how to break the sentence into a noun phrase, the subject and the verb phrase, and the predicate.
Say: I’m going to show you how to break this sentence into the subject and the predicate. First I’m going to find the verb. In this sentence the verb is the word is. The words that follow is all belong to the verb phrase, so is a huge ball of burning gas is the verb phrase of predicate. The sun is the subject or the noun phrase.
Draw a slash between the words sun and is. Write the following sentences on the board and invite children to come and break them into subject and predicate in the way that you have demonstrated.
  • Mercury is the closest planet to the sun.
  • The Earth’s atmosphere is made up of gases.
  • Venus and Earth are similar in size.
  • Some asteroids burn up before landing.
  • Comets orbit the sun.

Expand the Reading

Writing Connection
Writing a Cinquain Poem
Say: We are now going to work together to write a cinquain poem. A cinquain poem has five lines. The first and fifth lines have one word. The second line has two words, the third line has three words, and the fourth line has four words. The first line is the title. The second line describes the title. The third line expresses an action. The fourth line expresses feelings and the last line refers to, or is a synonym of, the title.
Have children supply words for a poem called "Mercury." Record them on the board. For example:
Inner, little
Spins very slowly
Scary, weird, exhausting, freezing,
Have children work individually or with a friend to write and illustrate a cinquain about another planet.

Science Connection
Have children use the library and the Internet to further research one of the planets in more detail. Present their information as a big book or a series of overhead transparencies. Have children share their information with the rest of the class.

Reading Independently
Invite children to reread the book, Our Solar System, independently or with a partner. They could then look for and read other books about the solar system. Children should also read each other’s cinquain poems and their research books or overhead transparencies.

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