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Grade Range
Kindergarden
Group Size
2-3 students
Active Time
70 minutes
Total Time
90 minutes+
Area of Science
Weather & Atmosphere
Key Concepts
Earth's surface, warm, cold, in the sun
Learning Objectives
  • Explain how a material left in the sun for a while is warmer compared to the same material kept in the shade.
  • Use the terms "in the sun" and "in the shade" correctly.
sunlight warms earth cups

Overview

Kindergarten students associate the sun with light and warmth. This lesson helps them expand this knowledge by getting their hands dirty! They will fill cups with soil, water and rocks and place them in the sun and shade for a while. By finding out how they can tell where a cup has been stored, they will learn how the sun affects Earth's surface.

In a follow-up lesson, Create Shade to Protect from the Sun, students figure out how to protect a territory from getting too hot in the sun.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • K-PS3-1. Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth's surface.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations. Make observations (firsthand or from media) to collect data that can be used to make comparisons.
PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer Sunlight warms Earth's surface.
Cause and Effect. Events have causes that generate observable patterns.

Credits

Sabine De Brabandere, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials


materials sunlight on earth lesson plan
  • Plastic cups, 1 per student. Translucent or transparent cups are best, but others are fine too.
  • Permanent marker
  • Soil, enough to fill one third of the cups. Potting soil or sand work well. The soil should be as dry as possible.
  • Pebbles, gravel, or small rocks, enough to fill one third of the cups. Dark colors work best, but lighter colors are fine too.
  • Water, enough to fill one third of the cups.
  • Towels (3) or paper towels
  • A place in the sun to leave half of the cups, preferably indoors (e.g. a window sill). If you place the cups outside, try to find an area protected from wind. If this is not available, a place under an incandescent light source of 60 watt or higher is fine too.
  • A place in the shade and away from any heat source (like a radiator) to leave half of the cups, preferably indoors (e.g. a table in your classroom that is not near a window). If you place the cups outside, try to find an area protected from the wind or with equal wind exposure as the area in the sun.
  • Student demonstration thermometer (1), like this thermometer.

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Grade Range
Kindergarden
Group Size
2-3 students
Active Time
70 minutes
Total Time
90 minutes+
Area of Science
Weather & Atmosphere
Key Concepts
Earth's surface, warm, cold, in the sun
Learning Objectives
  • Explain how a material left in the sun for a while is warmer compared to the same material kept in the shade.
  • Use the terms "in the sun" and "in the shade" correctly.

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