Observing the Sun

Kathryn Yoblonski
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Experiment/Lab 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 lesson is an activity where students create a sun tracker and monitor the sun's position over the course of a day. Examples of student journals and connections within a larger unit are provided.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Elementary School
Access Restrictions

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

Performance Expectations

1-ESS1-1 Use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted.

Clarification Statement: Examples of patterns could include that the sun and moon appear to rise in one part of the sky, move across the sky, and set; and stars other than our sun are visible at night but not during the day.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment of star patterns is limited to stars being seen at night and not during the day.

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

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
To ensure the full Performance Expectation is met, it is suggested that this lesson is included as part of a larger unit. The author notes this and includes the links to these lessons.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The author provides a variety of ways for students to observe, record and share their observations. Teachers should follow each of these ideas to ensure that the entire Practice is addressed.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
To fully address the Core Idea, the teacher should ensure that all parts of the lesson are completed. While student journals are used to record and describe their observations, students could extend their learning by making predictions for different times of year and teachers could then repeat the lessons at those times.

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
To ensure that the full Crosscutting Concept is addressed, the lesson must be followed as the author notes. There are examples of recording pages students can use to collect their data as well as questions that can be used as evidence. In addition, the author suggests using the KLEWS (Know, Learn, Evidence,Wonderings, Scientific Concepts) model during the lesson to ensure that students use evidence to discuss patterns they see.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource includes all of the tools to ensure it is truly NGSS aligned. In addition to the content, the author includes links to strengthen the lesson. One such link is the KLEWS model of discussion.

  • Instructional Supports: Many resources are provided in this lesson. There are links for improving teacher content knowledge, YouTube videos of the author's classroom at each part of the lesson, and Word documents for student journal pages. The lesson provides guidance to support differentiated instruction.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The author provides various ways to monitor student progress including pre-unit assessments, journal pages, and a post-unit assessments.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The author includes links to many YouTube videos of her classroom at each section of the lesson, as well as links to materials students can use.