A Hands On Way to Teach about Earth's Rotation

08 November



While learning about the solar system (A is for Astronaut) we talked about how the planets revolve around the sun (and comets and asteroid belts too).  I tried to explain to the girls that how the earth revolves around the sun is what gives us seasons, and how the earth rotates is what gives us night and day.  I didn't feel like I explained it well, so I set up a little activity to show it.

I started with a light, a globe, and a small ball on a glass jar.  These represent the sun, earth, and moon. The girls immediately recognized the sun and earth, but they weren't sure what the small ball was.  Since it was blue Bria thought it was Neptune.  We figured it out pretty quick and went on with the lesson.


First I had the girls find where we are, so we could use that for our discussion.


Then we talked about how th earth turns on its axis to make night and day.  How when we face the sun it is day because we have the light from the sun.

Day for us!
And how when we face away we don't see the sun, so it is dark (night).  We do see the moon, and the girls thought the moon had its own light.  So we also talked about how the moon is just reflecting the light of the sun (this led us to discuss moon phases).

Night for us!
For our moon phases we talked about how the moon circles the earth and depending on where it is relation to the earth and sun determines what type of moon we see.

Full moon when the sun illuminates the entire surface of the moon.

New moon when we see no illuminated surface because the moon is between the earth and sun.

Quarter moon when it is a 90 degree angle.
We did not dwell on moon phases because it was the first time we introduced them.  I really just wanted them to know that the moon circles the earth, is illuminated by the sun, and appears to change (but doesn't).
Here is a good moon phase diagram I found


Then we talked about seasons.  We talked about how the earth is tilted and always stays tilted the same way while it travels around the sun.  It was easy to see how we saw more of the sun's light in the summer then in the winter. 

Winter here.  I know you already saw this picture, but
we spent most of the time in winter for the demonstration.

Summer here.
We went through spring and fall, but I was holding the globe off the table, so no pictures.   This was a lot of big concepts for little kids, but I think they learned some of it!  Then we had a cute moon phase snack I saw on Pinterest.  Unfortunately it was one of those pins that is just a picture.   So we were on our own when it came to making it.  I should have looked closer the first time because I tried cutting the tops of the oreos.  That was dumb, they just crumble.  Then I realized you just unscrew them and cut the filling. I think they really enjoyed their snack!


Eli chomping the oreos I tried to cut; he didn't care!


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