Lesson plan

Earth, Sun and Moon Positions and their Effects

Model the Phases of the Moon and the Seasons. Activities on the effects of the Seasons on living things.
Science content
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Earth/Space: Weather, Seasons, Climate Change (K, 1, 4, 7)
Earth/Space: Sun, Moon, Solar System, Universe (1, 4, 6)
  • Space that can be made completely dark
  • Materials in the activities

Activity sequence idea 1:
Scale model of Sun/Earth/Moon
Visualise a complete rotation of the Moon around the Earth, through the seasons.
Seasons model demo
Phases of the Moon activity

Activity sequence idea 2:
Scale model of Sun/Earth/Moon
Look at a high resolution photo of the Moon to see the dark and light areas in it. e.g. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Full_Moon_%2815984763045%29.jpg
Reflection activity to show that the light areas of the Moon are reflecting the Sun's light, and the dark areas are not.

Activity sequence 3:
Leaves turn colours before they drop from trees in the Fall. What colours do we see?
One of these colours is in leaves all year but is hidden until the green disappears in the Fall.
We’ll use a technique to separate out the colours in leaves, so we can find the hidden colour.
Set up leaf colours.
Move to a dark area in the school (gym with no windows/basement/behind curtains on a stage).
Demonstrate why we get
Because the Earth is tilted, the amount of sunlight reaching Canada in the Northern hemisphere changes through the year. In the summer we are tilted towards the sun, in the winter we are tilted away. (The Southern hemisphere is the opposite, so has summer and winter at opposite times of year from us.)
Model why the Moon looks different at different times of the month with Phases of the Moon activity.
Leaf colours revisit and discussion.
Green leaves have green and yellow pigments in them.
In the summer leaves are green. They also contain yellow pigment but it is masked by the green.
In the fall, as the leaf starts to die in preparation for falling off, the green pigment breaks down and loses its colour. The yellow colour then becomes visible. So some fall leaves turn yellow. (The red colour of other Fall leaves are by a different mechanism.)

One way that animals adapt for the winter is making a new coat of thicker feathers or fur, to keep them warm in the colder months.
Some animals also change the colour of their fur/feather colours between summer and winter, so that they are better camouflaged in each season. Look at photos e.g. ptarmigan birds in summer and winter.

Indigenous groups, such as the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, who’s land we are on, have a traditional ‘Seasonal Round’, to harvest food and make tools when each food/material becomes abundant in each season.
Optionally use this poster: https://vashonheritagemuseum.org/product/coast-salish-poster/


Other Effects to include in this lesson:
Animals adapting to winter - feather, fur activities (look up close for function?)
Tides and effects on animals - see Moon lesson
Nocturnal/Diurnal animals?

Grades taught
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4