LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

The Earth and Sun: Investigations for the third grade

sun setting over the ocean

The Earth and Sun: Investigations for the third grade

By John Heffernan and Ronen Plesser

Provided by Kenan Fellows Program

In this set of lessons for a third-grade curriculum unit on the Earth and Sun, students progress from observing the Sun’s path through the daytime sky to understanding that the Sun’s apparent motion is actually a result of Earth’s rotation about an axis. Students will move through lessons that present light as a form of energy that moves in straight lines and learn how this causes shadows. They will see how the Sun’s position in the sky affects the shape and direction of their shadows. Armed with this knowledge, they move to “outer space” to explore the effects of the Sun on Earth. They will discover that Earth is round and that it rotates about an axis. In particular, students should develop an understanding of the way Earth’s daily rotation determines the cycle of light and dark that we call day and night.

Get started: Table of Contents