Sample the Solar System

Grade Levels: 3 - 8


  • Students will choose the best approach for their research.
  • Students will critique information found online.
  • Students will correctly cite information in a bibliography.
  • Students will use their research to create a mini solar system.
  • Reference materials and websites.


  1. Identify different features of the solar system like the Sun, the Moon, the planets, comets, and asteroids.
  2. Ask each student to choose one solar system feature to research. Work with students as they choose their topics to be sure that each feature, including the nine planets, is chosen.
  3. Talk about where students might find information about their topics. (books, Internet, magazines, newspapers)
  4. Review these steps to doing research:

    Question - Ask your students what they would like to know about their solar system topics. Have them record these questions.

    Search - Tell students to use the Internet, as well as traditional sources, to find information. Have them think of keywords that would apply to their solar system topic.

    Analyze - Remind students to always analyze the sources for anything they read online. They need to make sure the information they are using is accurate.

    Compose - Have students organize their information and make a report, a presentation, or a product that tells about the part of the solar system they researched.

    Share - Schedule time for students to share their solar system product with others.
  5. Have students determine what they would like to know about their solar system topic. Help them create questions that express what they want to find out.
  6. Students should use both online and traditional sources for their research. Encourage them to check as many sources as time allows.
  7. Limit students' online research to search engines that have been screened for children.
  8. Ask students to organize their information and make a poster, drawing, diorama, mural, or paper planets to show what they learned about their topic.
  9. Tell students that when they do research, they need to make a list of the resources they used, called a bibliography. They can go use the How to Write a Bibliography article to see how their list of references should look. You may want to print copies of this for each student.
  10. Students set up and share their finished work in a "classroom galaxy."


Use the following rubric for evaluating students’ work.

4 – Exemplary Understanding

  • investigates different research approaches quickly and efficiently.
  • critiques online information accurately.
  • produces a creative, well-organized and complete solar system product.

3 – Competent Understanding

  • investigates different research approaches with very few problems.
  • critiques online information with occasional prompting.
  • develops an accurate solar system product.

2 – Developing Understanding

  • investigates less than three research approaches.
  • needs guidance to critique online information.
  • creates a finished product that is short on detail or poorly organized.

1 – Emerging Understanding

  • investigates research approaches with assistance.
  • needs guidance to stay on task.
  • experiences difficulty completing a solar system product.

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Key Vocabulary

FAQ Frequently Asked Question: documents that list and answer the most common questions on a particular subject

home page the main page of a Web site

keyword a word or phrase typed into a search engine's query field; the engine then searches the World Wide Web for documents containing that word or words

search engine a tool used to help locate information on the Internet

World Wide Web a system on the Internet that weaves information and resources (usually called the Web, for short)

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Extend the Lesson

  • Students can work together to further enhance the "classroom galaxy" by making a Solar System Mobile.


  • Students can test their constellation knowledge by playing this astronomy game, Space Hopper Game (
  • Students might enjoy finding out how old they would be and how much they would weigh on other planets.

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