Patterns of Daylight

Kathryn Yablonski
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Model , Simulation , Activity
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This is a mini-unit that can be taught directly after Space Part 1or independently.  The author chose to teach the Space Part 1 unit (also available on Better Lesson! at ) during January, and follows up at the end of the year in a recap in May.

This lesson uses prior student knowledge and a video simulation.




Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Early Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

1-ESS1-2 Make observations at different times of year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of year.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on relative comparisons of the amount of daylight in the winter to the amount in the spring or fall.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to relative amounts of daylight, not quantifying the hours or time of daylight.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The Performance Expectation is met through a computer simulation. Instead of making actual observations of the sun at different times of the year, students make them at a single time. Teachers might consider using the same lesson to observe the sun each season in order to make real-world connections in student learning.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Questions related to the simulation are included in the lesson framework. The simulation of the sun's position in the sky could be modeled outside with shadows as well.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The use of the simulation, along with real-life observations, allow students to fully understand the Core Idea. Completing this lesson in stages over the course of the year will allow for students to experience "in real time" the changes in sun position, amount of daylight, etc.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The entire lesson is based on noticing patterns. To strengthen, one might consider having students keep a daylight or moon journal at home for a period of time to connect their simulator observations to real-life observations.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource could be strengthened by stretching the lesson over the course of the year to make the data collection and observations more authentic.

  • Instructional Supports: The lesson provides student materials and images to support implementation of the lesson. By using actual student observations, the lesson provides first-hand connections to phenomena.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: There are no summative or formative assessments included. Students could collect data over time and use a teacher made rubric to assess their data, recordings and observations.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The use of Moon Giant in this lesson is critical to this score. It is suggested that the teacher spend some time exploring the site before use with students as there are multiple ways it could be integrated and/or combined with other standards (patterns of the moon, stars etc...).