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Students learn through reading and writing about the solar system.
- Books from booklist, especially Magic School Bus books.
- The Magic School Bus: Gets Lost in Space video
- Copies of poems Planet Roll Call [teacher.scholastic.com] (PDF) and Solar System in Motion [teacher.scholastic.com] (PDF)
- Black construction paper
- White copy paper
- Scraps of brightly colored (red, orange, yellow) construction paper
- Scissors and glue sticks
- Tracing pattern in school bus shape
- Lined paper, pencils
- Listen to read-aloud book and watch video.
- Write in response to the book and video.
- Listen to and read poems about the solar system.
- Write in response to poems.
Read book The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System [shop.scholastic.com] aloud. Suggestion: There's a lot happening on each page including sidebars, additional facts, and student "reports." I read through the main text the first time so students get the flow of the story. On second reading I include a few of the other details.
Show video The Magic School Bus: Gets Lost in Space [shop.scholastic.com]. Follow with discussion of the book and video and how they're the same and different.
Read book a second time, adding more of the details. Introduce students to the Magic School Bus Web site [www.scholastic.com].
Write about a favorite planet.
- Discuss planets, make a list of planet names
- Talk about personal favorite, ask students to turn and talk to person next to them about planet they like and why. Ask two or three children to share.
- Introduce school bus stationery. Show sample of school bus rocketing into space on black paper with flames of red, orange, and yellow paper trailing behind.
- Generate a word bank with students' help. Pay special attention to powerful verbs: swirl, blast, spin, climb, soar, zoom, propel, etc.
- Ask students to write about their favorite planet and why they like it. Use school bus stationery.
- Students color and cut out school bus and glue it to black paper.
- Students add details with colored paper and crayons.
Other suggestions for writing topics:
- Compare and contrast two planets. How they are same and different?
- Narrative written from alternate perspective. What if planets could talk? What would they say about one another?
- Choral reading of "Planet Roll Call."
- Repeated reading with one student taking the part of teacher and small groups assigned to play parts of planets, so everyone has a speaking part.
- Sing "Solar System in Motion."
- Repeat the song with two students standing and playing parts of sun and earth.
Write a poem
- Use word bank generated from previous writing assignment and add adjectives to the list of powerful verbs.
- Here are ideas for poems. None of these ideas need lines that rhyme:
- Graphic organizer you provide
- Start with the name of a planet and have lines that consist of "as ___________ as a _____________," to help students write with similes.
- Write from the perspective of a planet and have every line begin with "I wish...".
- Write a conversation between two neighboring planets.
- Acrostic poem using the name of a planet (I'm not a fan of these but some children like them).
- Group poem you write together as a class.
Use your imagination and play around with these and other ideas.
- Allow 25 minutes for writing and 10 minutes for sharing.
Solar System Journal
By the spring of 2nd grade you'll have students who want to write more than is assigned. I have a stack of blue exam books for this purpose. I introduce science journals to a few students apart from the class and make journaling seem very special. Soon, classmates are asking for their own journals. I don't correct journals but I do read and respond in writing.
- Listen to books?
- Participate in choral reading?
- Make an effort during writing time?
- Ask for help as needed?
- Generate original ideas?
- Share what she wrote?