Monday, July 4, 2011

Getting the Fourth of July off to a Dazzling "Star"t!

In honor of the signing of the Declaration of Indepence, all star items in my TPT store are free! 
(click to download)
 As part of this year's third grade astronomy unit, we worked on the Earth, sun, and moon system as well as other celestial bodies like planets, meteoroids, asteroids, comets, and stars. I thought the Fourth of July would be a great time to share the star / constellation activities with you!

My essential question for the beginning of the star classification lesson is, "What is a constellation?" Students write their hypotheses in their journals (they have some prior knowledge due to myths they have been reading in language arts) and we look for common answers. I find that students usually don't mention that the stars that make up constellations are different sizes and colors. I introduce that concept by showing students this star comparison video.
Then students are asked to work with partners to color the stars and fill in the lab sheet showing 4 different ways stars can be classified: size, color, temperature, and luminosity/brightness (each star is labeled with them).  The plan and lab sheet are here. If you have early finishers who need a challenge, have them try to find the star's letter used in a Hertsprung-Russel Diagram.

While students are working, I play this constellation song so they get used to their names and have an easier time identifying the stars and their constellations when we visit the StarLab.

We also compare meteors, asteroids, and comets using this sheet.
If you'd like to try this lesson with younger children, just have them sort by color or size and skip the lab sheet.
Don't have materials? Check out this FOSSweb module

Check out my website for lesson plans, lab sheets, and more astronomy websites for teacher and student use.

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