Earth’s Place in the Universe: 1-ESS1-1 Sample Lesson

March 4, 2018 2 Comments

During the summer, I often take a break from planning for the classes that I regularly.  Instead, I often create elementary science lessons that B and I can do over the summer.  Take a look at this sample lesson for 1-ESS1-1, Earth’s Place in the Universe.

What do students need to know for 1-ESS1-1?

The performance expectation for 1-ESS1-1 requires that student use their own observation of the Earth, moon, and sun to find predictable patterns.

This performance expectation includes the Science and Engineering Practice of Analyzing and Interpreting Data.  Rather than giving them data or images, it is best to provide students with a common experience during class.  Students can use these observations to connect to the Crosscutting Concept of Patterns.

Students are only required to make simple observations and recognize simple patterns.  For example, they should recognize that the sun is visible in the sky in the morning, and is not visible at night.  Students should also be able to explain which objects in the sky (sun, moon, and stars) are visible in the sky during the day, and at night.

For more information about this performance expectation, take a look at the evidence statement.

Sample Lesson for 1-ESS1-1

This inquiry-based lesson allows students to indirectly observe the apparent motion of the sun in the sky by observing shadows.  Students will observe and trace their shadow three times per day for three days.  This timeline can be adjusted.  However, this number of observations helps students to see that the pattern is predictable.

I wrote a short narrative of our discussion, which I posted in a previous version of this post.  You can read that here.

You won’t need many materials for this activity.  We used sidewalk chalk and art supplies (paper and markers).

I also had B trace around her feet so that she could step back into the same position each time that we came out to trace her shadow.  This is what it looked like at the end of day 1.

chalk outline of child's shadow at different angles

Including Modeling in the Investigation for 1-ESS1-1

I enjoy using the Science and Engineering Practice of Modeling with younger students as often as possible.  Students in early elementary are just starting to learn to write, but they have extensive experience creating art.  Modeling is very similar to the drawings that they do, but non-essential components are left out.

Notice that B included some non-essential components in her model.  She included a cloud, a flower, and a green dress. When students are starting to create their models, you can start to discuss the differences between modeling and drawing.  However, it isnt the end of the world if students include non-essential components in their models.Picture of B's drawing. She drew three shadows on the floor turning. She included a sun with an arrow showing that it moved.

The Science and Engineering Practice (SEP) of Developing and Using Models is not included in the performance expectation for 1-ESS1-1.  Remember, Performance Expectations define how students may be assessed.  However, you can include other SEPs in your activities. 

Including Common Core ELA Standards with 1-ESS1-1

In order to include a writing component and integrate common core ELA standards.  This activity pairs well with W.1.8: with guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.   

Answer's to the questions I gave to B when she was done.

Bundling to Create a More in Depth Lesson Sequence

This activity pairs very well with 1-PS4-3 (Plan and conduct an investigation to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light).  Students can look in-depth at what types of objects make shadows and which do not.

Get a copy of the activity for your class.

This easy isn’t hard to recreate on your own. Or, you can access this activity in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

Please note, the pages pictured in this blog post have been updated to allow for more differentiation options and to help increase standards alignment.


 Want to learn more?

Check out these posts to learn more about elementary science and the NGSS.


Erin Sadler

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  • Elizabeth April 6, 2018 at 2:17 am

    In Texas, Science isn’t tested until 5th grade. SO, many lower elementary teachers teach science only a few times per week. Funny thing is that the students LOVE science!

    • Erin April 6, 2018 at 2:44 am

      I know! And science is such a great way to teach math and ELA. My goal is to make it easier for elementary teachers to teach science in their classroom and have it align with math/ELA standards.

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