What’s In The Sky?

Children will explore what is in the sky.


Lesson Objective

The children will make telescopes and explore what is in the sky during both day and night.


What You'll Need

  • Pictures of things in the sky: clouds, Sun, Moon, stars, rain, snow, airplane, helicopter, hot air balloon, bird, geese, duck, and so forth
  • Chart paper
  • Marker
  • Empty paper towel tubes – 1 per child
  • Markers, glitter, glue, sequins, ribbon, crayons

What To Do

Note: This lesson requires taking the children outside after making their telescopes.

  1. Make three columns on chart paper labeled DayNight, and Both.
  2. Begin a discussion with the children about what we see in the sky (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  3. Using the pictures, discuss whether we see the object in the sky during the day, at night, or both (see Did You Know?). Record their responses on the chart.
  4. Discuss why some things are easier to see during the day than at night (see Did You Know?).
  5. Explain that people who study things found in space are called “astronomers” and that they use special instruments, like telescopes, to look at the sky.
  6. Tell the children that they are going to make telescopes that they can use to look at the things they see in the sky.
  7. Give each child a paper towel tube, and allow them to decorate it.
  8. Before going outside, explain the importance of not looking directly at the Sun with or without their telescopes.
  9. Take the children outside, and have them look at items in the sky with their telescopes.
  10. Upon returning to the classroom, add to the chart any new items seen in the sky.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe what you can see in the sky during the day, at night, and during both day and night.
  • Explain how you can see some things more easily during the day than you can at night.
  • Explain why you can see the Moon and stars at night but not during the day.
  • Explain how night is different from day.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Read the digital storybook, Zip, Zoom, Elmo’s on the Moon! together. In the story, Cookie Monster is telling Elmo about the night sky. That night, Elmo dreams he is traveling in a rocket ship to the moon. Go to Reading Adventures, a series of five Sesame Street digital storybooks focused on vocabulary development and choose Zip, Zoom, Elmo’s on the Moon! 
  • Invite the children to take their telescopes home and draw a picture of something they were able to see in the sky through their telescopes at night.
  • Discuss with the children the things they do during the day and the things they do during the night.
  • In the dress-up area, provide daytime (dress-up) clothing and things needed at nighttime (e.g., pajamas, blankets, pillows). Have the children pretend it is daytime or nighttime.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Were children able to describe the difference between the sky during the day and at night?
  • Could children describe things they were able to see during the day, at night, and during both day and night?
  • Could children explain why some things are easier to see during the day than at night?
  • Could children explain why we cannot see the Moon and the stars during the day?


Did You Know?

Common things that we can see in the sky are clouds, raindrops, the Sun, the Moon, stars, airplanes, kites, and birds. Some of the things in the sky are easy to see, and some things are harder to see. The Moon and stars are in the sky during the day, but we cannot usually see them because during the day, the Sun brightens the sky. The Sun is actually a star, and it is the closest star to the Earth. As the Sun sets, it begins to dip below the horizon so that the Moon and stars become more visible. As the Sun goes down, the sunlight disappears, making other things in the sky more difficult to see.

We have day and night because the Earth spins, or rotates, on its axis. We have daytime when our side of the Earth is facing the Sun. While we are having daytime, the other side of the Earth is experiencing nighttime. The process that causes day and night is called “rotation.” When we look up, it appears as if the Sun is moving across the sky. It rises in the east and sets in the west. The Sun is not really moving; the Earth is slowly spinning, making the Sun appear to move. It takes 1 full day (24 hours) for the Earth to complete its rotation.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • Sun – the star that is nearest the Earth; the Earth receives heat and light from the Sun and travels around it.
  • Moon – an object that circles around a planet; the Earth has one Moon.
  • day – the period between the time in which the Sun rises and the Sun sets.
  • night – the period between the time in which the Sun sets in the evening and the Sun rises in the morning.
  • astronomer – a scientist who studies the universe beyond the Earth.
  • telescope – an instrument that uses lenses and sometimes mirrors to make distant objects appear larger.

Lesson Tips

Be sure to clearly explain to the children that they should not look directly at the Sun.


  • The Sun Is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch
  • The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons
  • The Moon in My Room by Annette Norris
  • What Is in the Sky? by Laura Young

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – 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 [1]. Visit the CCSS