Earth in the Solar System

West Haven Public Schools

Unit Planning Organizer

Subject:   Earth in the Solar System                

Grade:  5

Unit:  1                                                                      

Pacing:  4 weeks

Essential Question(s):

1 – Why does the moon appear to change shapes?

2 – Why does the temperature get lower and days shorter in the winter vs. warmer temperature and longer days in the summer?


Big Idea(s):

·        Positions of the Earth and Moon relative to the Sun explain day and night and moon phases.


CT State Standards (includes West Haven’s “Priority” GLES’s in BOLD and “Supporting” Standards)

1. Explain the motion of the Earth relative to the sun that causes Earth to experience cycles of day and night.


2. Construct models demonstrating Earth’s rotation on its axis, the moon’s revolution

around the Earth, and the Earth and moon revolving around the sun.  B INQ. 6, 7, 8


5. Relate the moon phases to changes in the moon’s position relative to the Earth and

sun during its 29-day revolution around the Earth.


3. Distinguish between the sun as a source of light and the moon as a reflection of that light.  B INQ. 1, 5


4. Observe and record the moon’s appearance over time and analyze findings to describe the cyclical changes in its appearance from Earth (moon phases). 

B INQ. 1, 5, 6

“Unwrapped” Concepts and Skills, and Bloom Levels (BL)


Concepts(Need to Know)

Skills(Able to Do)




5.3 – Earth in the Solar System


Earth’s axial rotation around sun – day/night


Moon Phases – position relative to Earth, 29 day revolution




Explain  –causes of day/night


Relate  – moon position to Earth’s rotation







Instructional Planning

Suggested Resources/Materials:

Foss Kit Activities:

Investigation 2 – Part 1 – 4 days of night sky observation at home, then 2 sessions of 40 minutes

Part 2 – observe and record moon for 4 weeks – 40 minutes to discuss findings, 40 minutes to create simulation.


Use The Night Sky chapters to teach the causes of day and night.


Video - optional


Supplemental Activity – flip book by Delta ’96.

Suggested Research-based Effective Instructional Strategies:

Parent letter

Moon phase tracking calendar

Flip book

hands on demonstration: Shadeless lamp/flashlight, styrofoam/blow up balls, mirror (optional)

Using science notebooks (page 257 in teacher guide)



Vocabulary/Word Wall


Interdisciplinary Connections




phases of the moon

lunar cycle




lunar eclipse

solar eclipse




Tides – high, low times
Sunrise, sunset

  Foss kit website link for


Make moon phases bracelet using teacher worksheet #13



Chart when moon/sun rises and sets.

Elapsed time – figure when our next one will be.

Problem of the week located in Teacher’s guide pages 68, 101, 133 (reproducible #18, #19, 20)

Language Arts:

Expository piece on why there are moon phases and what they are.

Poetry – write poems (haiku, acrostic, etc) about the moon/sun/seasons.

Leveled reader Earth

Social Studies:

Explorers and how they used the sun, stars, and moon to navigate (sextant).

Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn.

Dates of Equinox

Use map to show sun/moon position on yearly basis and how other countries view it.