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TRB 3:1 - Investigation 4 - Day and Night

Main Core Tie

Science - 3rd Grade
Standard 1 Objective 2

Group Size

Small Groups


Utah LessonPlans


Classroom demonstration and activities will help students understand how the Earth's rotation creates day and night.


Activity 1

  • globe
  • flashlight
  • sticker
  • My Moon Book
  • 3 x 5 pieces of paper

Activity 2

  • Sun, Moon, Earth cards for each group

Additional Resources


  • Magic School Bus Inside the Earth by Joanna Cole. Scholastic Inc. 1989
  • On the Day You Were Born by Debra Fraiser. Harcourt Brace and Company 1991
  • Our Planet Earth by Claire Llewellyn. Scholastic Inc. 1997
  • You’re Abroad Spaceship Earth by Patricia Lauber. Harper Trophy 1996

Background for Teachers

The rotation of Earth's axis produces the night and day cycle. Earth makes one complete rotation on its axis each day, or every 24 hours. During this rotation, half of Earth is facing the sun, and is experiencing day. At the same time, Earth's other half is away from the sun, experiencing night. The rotation of Earth seems to make the sun move across the sky during daylight and seems to make the stars move across the sky during night time. Earth also revolves around the sun about every 365 days or one year. The path that it takes around the sun is called an orbit.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. Use a Science Process and Thinking Skills
  2. Manifest Science Interests and Attitudes
  3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles
  4. Communicate Effectively Using Science Language and Reasoning

Instructional Procedures

Pre-Assessment/Invitation to Learn

Have students answer the first question on page 6 in their moon books about how we get day and night. Discuss with the class what they wrote in their journals.

Instructional Procedure

Activity 1 - Day and Night Cycle

  1. Have the students answer the first question on page 6.
  2. Put the sticker on the globe to indicate where you live.
  3. Place the globe on a table, then turn the lights off.
  4. Have a student shine the flashlight on the globe where the sticker is.
  5. Ask students if it is day or night where the sticker is located.
  6. Turn the globe counterclockwise until the sticker is away from you.
  7. Shine the light on the other side. Students will notice the sticker is now on the dark side, which represents night time.
  8. Have the students complete the second question on page 6.

Activity 2 - Earth, Moon, and Sun

Help students visualize how Earth and the moon travel together in space around the sun with this enactment. Review what orbit means: the path an object in space follows as it revolves around another object. Review what revolve means: to circle around an object.

  1. Divide the class into groups of three.
  2. Give each group three cards and have them write "Sun", "Moon", and "Earth", on the cards. Students can also draw a picture of the word they wrote.
  3. Take the class outside or to a large open area.
  4. Have one group come to the middle and position the sun performer. Explain that, like the real sun, he will not move. Have the child acting as Earth, revolving very slowly around the sun. Have the moon performer revolve around the moving Earth. Explain that while it takes the Earth about 365 days to orbit the sun, it takes the moon only about 28 days to orbit Earth.
  5. Have the remaining students form groups and enact the cycle.
  6. After students come back to the classroom, pass out the activity "Earth, Moon Orbits," students color, cut out, and assemble.


Art -

  • Day/Night Clock (Standard III, Objective 1)
    1. Hand out paper plates to the students.
    2. Have them draw clock faces on both sides.
    3. Ask students to draw what they do at night on one side of the clock.
    4. Ask students to draw what they do during the day on the other side of the clock.
    5. Tell students to draw several activities on each side of the clock.


  • Ask students if they think animals have things they do during the day and other things they do at night. (ILO 3)
  • Ask students what activities happen as a year goes by. (ILO 3)

Homework & Family Connections

Conduct the same experiment at home with their families.

Read books about the moon and Earth.

Send home a list of websites and encourage student to look them up with their families. Share with their family the "Earth, Moon Orbits" activity.

Assessment Plan

Have students illustrate their moonbook pg. 6 how we get day and night.

Why do we have a year?

Write down the definitions in their journals.

Check for accuracy on page 6 of their journals.

Created: 06/15/2004
Updated: 02/05/2018