Open-and-go lessons that inspire kids to love science.

Sign up now for tons of free lessons like this one!

Spaceship Earth Unit
What are the wandering stars?
Scroll for prep
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS:

Were you surprised? Why or why not?

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS:

Which planets move the most quickly in their orbits around the Sun? Which planets move the most slowly?

Reveal answer

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS:

People used to think that planets were a type of star. Now we know that planets are worlds. Why did we change our minds about them?

Reveal answer

In the old view of planets, would the Earth be considered a planet? Why or why not?

Reveal answer

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

DISCUSS:

Okay so now you've seen real, close-up photographs from Mars, Venus, and Mercury. What planets are we missing?

Reveal answer

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading, and extension activity in the extensions.

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration which you just completed.
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

ELA Activity: My Very Educated Mother

This sentence will help you remember the planets in order, starting closest to the sun: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos. Just think of a planet that starts with the first letter of each word: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and so on. Have students create and illustrate with their own sentences to help them remember.

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Extra Activity: Age & Weight on Other Worlds

Have your students use online calculators to figure out their age on other planets and their weight on other planets.

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Project: Travel Poster

Let each student choose a favorite planet and create a travel poster extolling its virtues as a vacation spot, using fun facts about planets. Two other useful sources of information include PlanetsFor Kids.org and NinePlanets.org.

Project: To Live on Another Planet

Have students write about the challenges of living on another planet. Prompt them to describe what the landscape on this planet looks like. What would the weather be like there? How long is a day? How long is the year? What would they need to survive on this planet?

Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Make a Model of the Solar System

Make a map of the solar system -- using chalk on the sidewalk. You’ll need 90 feet of sidewalk to get all the way to Neptune!

  • Draw a line to mark your starting point. That’s the surface of the Sun. Label it SUN. You’ll make a circle and label each planet, starting with the inner planets, the ones closest to the Sun.
  • Take one step to Mercury and mark your place.
  • Take one more step to Venus.
  • One more step and you’re at Earth. Home sweet home!
  • Take one more step and a baby step, and you’re at Mars. Now it’s time to go to the outer planets.
  • Take ten steps to Jupiter.
  • Take 15 steps to Saturn.
  • Take 30 steps to Uranus.
  • Finally, take 30 steps to Neptune. You are a long way from home now!
Full Screen
Exit Full Screen

Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Other
Saturn by NASA / cropped, tilted
Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Sun, Moon, Stars, & Planets
Focus Planets & Solar System
Print Prep
Activity Prep

This Mystery introduces the “wandering stars.” Students will learn what it means to see them with their own eyes, and will learn some interesting discoveries about each one. In the activity, Running to Neptune, students draw out the planets in our Solar System with chalk on the playground. Then, they play a racing game, running to each planet, reinforcing the names, order, and relative distances between the planets.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Distance Between Planets worksheet Print 1 copy
Permanent Marker
1 marker
Rulers
1 ruler
Scissors
1 pair
Toilet Paper Tube
Recycled is fine. Can reuse from year to year once assembled.
Details
1 tube
Colored Chalk
10 sticks
String
Can reuse from year to year once assembled.
Details
60 feet
Prep Instructions

You need an outdoor area that’s at least 60 feet long where you can mark on the ground with chalk.

Watch the Prep Video

We include an instructional video for this activity that is meant for the teacher, not for students. The video walks you through how to mark the string at particular increments with permanent marker, which needs to be prepared in advance of the activity.

Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Sun, Moon, Stars, & Planets
Focus Planets & Solar System
Slow internet or video problems?