Planets Teacher Resources
Find Planets educational ideas and activities
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The Search for Other Earth-like Planets
Olivier Guyon, professor of optical science and astronomy, explains how scientists are searching for other planets that can support life. Viewers learn the odds of finding a habitable planet, how long it would take, and some techniques developed in order to increase the odds. Where this resource does not fit traditionally taught topics, it could be used as an introduction to space exploration or as a springboard for discussing why humans invest so much time and money to studying the cosmos.
The Planets- Kerpoof Lesson Plan
Students use the website Kerpoof to examine the planets. In this solar system lesson, students classify the planets by characteristics, discover new "space vocabulary", and what the planets are made of. Students use KWL charts to organize their information and write a creative story that tells what it would be like to live on one of the planets. This lesson includes adaptations, mulitple activity ideas, clipart, worksheets and online resources.
Traveling the Planets!
Fourth graders research the planets and create brochures to share their information. In this planets instructional activity, 4th graders navigate the Internet to gather information for a brochure about an imaginary trip to their planet. Students complete their brochures using Microsoft Publisher.
Development of a Habitable Planet
Students identify and sequence the major events that caused Earth to develop into a habitable planet. They view videos, conduct research, participate in discussions and work in groups to determine the likelihood of other habitable worlds.
Planet of the Apes
The "Planet of the Apes" is becoming a staple in many high school classrooms and provides a way to explore a variety of topics.
Destination Red Planet
Students explore reasons why people are interested in exploring other planets. After reading an article, they identify developments in the mission to Mars. Using the internet, they research the history of exploring Mars and create a timeline. They write diary entries from the perspective of a scientist.
Planets in our Solar System
A wonderfully designed, and very thorough lesson plan on the planets in our solar system. Designed for third graders, this lesson has learners use technology and multimedia tools to research, explore, and create information about the solar system. The class is transformed into a 10-station learning center where children explore the solar system, and end up creating a book about the planets and a brochure that focuses on a planet of their choice. Terrific!
Planet Scaling using Extra Terrestrial Tools
Your class will use a set scale to convert diameters of planets to the model size, the diagram given to expand on the number of planets drawn as concentric circles, and examine the scale that would be needed to fit the larger planets on a page. The out-of-this-world activity is can be used to examine the planets, math scales, and ratios. You could expand on this with astronomy topics, but the worksheet also goes on to practice more scales used in the area of blueprints and architecture
A Needle in Countless Haystacks: Finding Habitable Worlds
Extraterrestrial life? What makes life possible? What makes a habitable planet? These are the questions explored through this video. Some of the concepts presented include the essentiality of water for life and how its liquid form is not easily found in the universe. The size of a planet, the presence of an atmosphere, and the distance from its star combine to allow for liquid water. Perhaps you could use this resource as a fun enhancement when teaching a space unit.
Planets in Our Solar System
Each member of a four-student group takes on a specific aspect of an assigned planet to research. After gathering information, the team works together to create a travel brochure and a presentation intended to convince other classmates to visit their assigned planet. The instructions are given to the group via the Internet, making this a web-based lesson. A pre-test is provided, as well as an assessment rubric. Though it is written as an 8th grade lesson, it can easily be incorporated into your elementary curriculum.
Little Prince Planet, Part 2
Let's continue the fun with art and literacy in Part Two of the two-part lesson on symbolism and the story, The Little Prince. The class continues their discussion of symbolism in literature and art, as they paint the paper mache world they've created. They use polymer clay to sculpt an inhabitant for their planet, and then write an additional chapter for The Little Prince which includes a visit to the planet they have created. Note: See Additional Materials for a link to the first part of the lesson.
Lesson Planet's Summer Writing Challenge
Take part in an online learning community, and win prizes by participating in Lesson Planet's first Summer Writing Challenge!
100 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet
Students examine the possible ways to recycle, reuse, and re-imagine products and objects in order to reduce pollution and waste on our planet. In this 100 things you can do to save the planet lesson, students take three actions to create a Green Corps Kiosk. Students then go fishing in a fish pond of recyclable items and choose an item to make something new out it, giving the item a second life.
Exploring the Planets
Students study robotic spacecrafts that have provided detailed information about the inner and outer planets. In this exploring the planets lesson plan, students use posters and diagrams to study the various robotic spacecraft sent to the planets. They explore the different ways scientists have learned about our planets.
Space: Our Star the Sun and it's Friends the Planets
Students examine the solar system. In this space instructional activity, students identify the order of the planets and their relative size to the sun. Students create a scale model of our solar system using a variety of household objects.
Strange New Planet
Students choose a spherical object to decorate with stickers, scents, etc to make it interesting. They write a key to the features for future explorers. Students use viewers to observe mystery planets. Students simulate NASA missions by observing with a fly-by, an orbit, and a landing. After each "visit" teams record their observations about the planet. This is one of a series of lessons from NASA.
Could the Solar System have Ten Planets?
Students react to statements about the solar system, then read a news article about a recently discovered object that could be another planet. For this space science and current events lesson, the teacher introduces the lesson with a discussion and vocabulary activity, then students read the news report and participate in a class discussion. Lesson includes interdisciplinary follow-up activities.
How Much Would You Weigh On Distant Planets?
High schoolers study the effects of gravity on the planets of the Solar System. They view movies from the lunar Apollo missions, calculate their own weight on other planets, and propose what they might weigh on newly discovered planets around other stars.
The Nine Planets
Sixth graders create and analyze a model of the solar system. They anaylze and interpret data from graphs and tables. Students use technology (CD-ROMs, Internet and multi-media) to gather and present information on a planet. They compare planetary distances.
Introduction to the Outer Planets, Jupiter
Learners discuss similarities and differences of the inner and outer planets. In this outer planets lesson, students participate in activities to learn about the outer planets and write a letter, a news article or a song.