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Understanding the Planets Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-SPA0200

Source: School Library Media Activities Monthly, (6:8, April 1990)

Grade Levels: 3, 4


  • Science/Space Sciences
  • Information Literacy/Research Skills

Library Media Skills Objectives:
The student will use a research strategy to find information about the solar system.
The student will use main and subordinate ideas to take notes and outline information about the solar system. Curriculum (subject area) Objectives:
This activity may be used in connection with a science (astronomy) unit on the solar system and planets.

Resources :
Books such as:
Branley, Franklyn. The Planets in Our Solar System . Crowell, 1987.
Branley, Franklyn. Mysteries of the Planets . Lodestar, 1988.
Lauber, Patricia. Journey to the Planets . Crown, 1987.
Roop, Peter. The Solar System . Greenhaven Press, 1988.

Instructional Roles:
The library media specialist or the classroom teacher may introduce the research strategy to students and help them find answers. The search process may be outlined on a worksheet which also lists completion dates.

Activity and Procedures for Completion :
The library media specialist may prepare a display of materials related to the solar system. Each book may be labeled with a number. The library media center materials on the solar system may be introduced to the students, who may be given a bibliography on which the book titles are numbered to correspond to the numbered labels. If the activity is introduced at the beginning of the unit of instruction, the students may also be shown a film/video about the planets and the solar system.

The library media specialist may introduce students to the guided research activity. During this activity, which involves both the whole class as well as small groups, the library media specialist will guide the students through a process for identifying main ideas and gathering supportive details. The session may begin with an introduction to the topic: the solar system.

The library media specialist may ask the students to think about the topic and identify some sub topics related to the main topic. A list of the sub topics may be recorded. The library media specialist may then help the students group the ideas. The students may look at the sub topics and individually choose particular sub topics for additional research.

The students may be divided into sub topic groups. In the small groups, the students may brainstorm and record questions about the sub topics. They may examine the questions they develop and may change the questions into statements. Each statement may be recorded on a single sheet of paper and each student may select a statement for research and note taking. Students will read from the sources in the bibliography and write notes under the statement, recording the number of the source.

After the students have collected notes on each statement, the small group may make an outline. The statements may be used as main topics and the notes may be grouped under the main topics. The outline may be shared with the entire class.

Each group may write a report in which each sub topic/statement becomes a paragraph. The students may rework the notes into sentences, proofread, edit, etc. If desired, the small group reports may be compiled into a composite class report. In this case, the class as a whole must discuss the overall organization of topics/sub topics and the organization of the report.

Evaluation :
The student will follow a guided research process to identify main and subordinate ideas for a report about the planets.

Follow-Up :
The student may


  • Complete a report about a specific planet using the same process. Make a mobile of the planets including information about the solar system and planets.

These integrated lesson plans and suggestions for teaching library and information skills in connection with various classroom subject areas are provided by LMS Associates and were originally published in School Library Media Activities Monthly. Lessons may be used for the non-commercial purpose of education. All materials are held in copyright by LMS Associates for the magazine, School Library Media Activities Monthly. For more information, contact, LMS Associates; 17 E. Henrietta Street; Baltimore, MD 21230 410-685-8621.