Theme: Our Sky
Day and Night
Objective: Children will use flashlights to explore the difference between day and night.‹ Return to Theme
What You Will Need
- Flashlights – 1 per 2 children
- Chart paper
What To Do
Note: Prior to the lesson, make three columns on the chart paper with the headings Day, Night, and Both.
- Discuss with the children things they see during the day, night, and both (see Guiding Student Inquiry). Record all responses on the chart paper.
- Tell the children they are going to use flashlights to see how the Sun affects day and night on the Earth.
- Invite a child to stand up and be the “Earth” while the other children remain seated.
- Turn off the lights, and pull the shades to darken the classroom.
- Tell the children they will be the Sun and to watch where the teacher is shining the flashlight.
- Turn on a flashlight, and shine it on the tummy of the child standing.
- Continue to ask children questions about day and night (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
- Explain that the Earth rotates, or spins slowly. When the Earth turns far enough around, we can’t see the Sun anymore, and it is nighttime (see Did You Know?).
- Have the “Earth” child slowly turn around until the Sun is on their back. Point out that the Earth spins very slowly.
- Tell the children when the “Sun” is shining on the front of the “Earth” child, it is daytime, and when the “Sun” is shining on the back of the “Earth” child, it is nighttime.
- Pair the children, and give one member of each pair a flashlight; this is the “Sun” child, and their partner is the “Earth” child. Give the children time to experiment with this partnership; then, have them change places so the “Sun” child is now the Earth and the “Earth” child is now the Sun.
Guiding Student Inquiry
- Describe how day is different from night.
- Tell me some things you see during the day/at night/both.
- Explain how you know whether it is day or night.
- Tell me what you think happens to the Sun at night.
Explore, Extend & Integrate
- You can demonstrate the Earth’s rotation using a globe. Locate your state on the globe, and put a sticker to mark the spot where your school is. Then, using a lamp or flashlight as the Sun, slowly rotate the globe to show the children how the Earth rotates, resulting in day and night. Use the globe to find what part of the Earth is having night while you are having day.
- Add a third child to the demonstration, identified as the “Moon.” The “Moon” child can rotate around the “Earth” child. While the “Moon” child is rotating around the “Earth” child, have the “Moon” child stop when he or she is behind the “Earth” child. Ask questions such as what happened to the Moon, are there some times when we cannot see the Moon, and why? Discuss the fact that sometimes, we can see the Moon in the sky and sometimes, we can’t see it because the Moon goes behind the Earth.
Check for Children’s Understanding
- Could children describe the difference between day and night?
- Could children explain that it is hard to see things during the night because it is dark?
- Could children explain what happens to the Sun at night?
Did You Know?
When we look up at the Sun during different points in the day, it appears to be moving across the sky. The Sun does not move; it is the Earth that is moving. The Earth rotates, or spins, on its axis. The “axis” is an imaginary line from the North Pole to the South Pole of the Earth. As the Earth rotates, the Sun hits different parts of the Earth, giving us day and night. The half of the Earth that is facing the Sun is having day, and the half of the Earth that is not facing the Sun is having night. It takes the Earth 24 hours to make one complete rotation on its axis.
The Sun is actually a star. Like all stars, it is a ball of hot, glowing gas. It is the only star we can see during the day. Even though the other stars are in the sky during the day, we can only see them at night because our Sun is so bright during the day. Our Sun looks larger than the other stars because the Earth is much closer to the Sun than it is to the other stars in the sky.
- Sun – the star that is nearest to the Earth. The Earth receives heat and light from the Sun and travels around it.
- Earth – the third planet from the Sun.
- rotate – to spin or turn around a central point.
- axis – a line through the center of an object.
- day – the time between when the Sun rises and when the Sun sets.
- night – the time between when the Sun sets in the evening and when the Sun rises in the morning.
- Caution the children to shine the flashlight only on the bodies of other children and to keep the light away from their faces.
- Prepare labels for the children to wear—one with a picture of the Earth, and one with a picture of the Sun. To do this, glue a picture of the Earth on a half sheet of cardstock, and punch two holes in the top of the cardstock. Tie a length of yarn to each hole long enough for children to place it over their head. Repeat this process for the Sun.
- Things You See in the Sky by Vera Vullo Capogna
- What Is In the Sky? by Laura Young
- Harold’s Trip to the Sky by Crockett Johnson
- How High Is the Sky? by Anna Milbourne
Content provided by:
Common Core State
These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.
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There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.