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This lesson provided by:
Author:Haley Lively
System: Chilton County
School: Chilton County Board Of Education
Lesson Plan ID: 31180

Inner and Outer Planets of the Solar System


In this science lesson students will work collaboratively to learn and introduce the eight planets, sizes, characteristics, and their order.  They will use size comparisons, research a planet, design a poster and create a PowerPoint presentation.

Content Standard(s):
SC(4) 10. Describe components of our solar system.
AED(5) Visual Arts1. Utilize the elements of art and principles of design and the structures and functions of art to communicate personal ideas.
TC2(3-5) 1. Use input and output devices of technology systems.
TC2(3-5) 2. Use various technology applications, including word processing and multimedia software.
TC2(3-5) 8. Collect information from a variety of digital sources.
TC2(3-5) 10. Use digital environments to collaborate and communicate.
MA2015(4) 18. Compare two decimals to hundredths by reasoning about their size. Recognize that comparisons are valid only when the two decimals refer to the same whole. Record the results of comparisons with the symbols >, =, or <, and justify the conclusions, e.g., by using a visual model. [4-NF7]
MA2015(5) 18. Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multistep, real-world problems. [5-MD1]
Local/National Standards:

NAS Standards- Earth in the Solar System

CONTENT STANDARD D: (National Science Education Standard) As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop an understanding of *Structure of the earth system *Earth's history *Earth in the solar system

CONTENT STANDARD E: (National Science Education Standard)  As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop *Abilities of technological design *Understandings about science and technology

Primary Learning Objective(s):

  • Students will gain understanding of the order of the planets in our solar system.
  • By describing characteristics about each of the 8 planets, students will list important facts.
  • Students will draw planets on a smaller scale by using mathematics.
Additional Learning Objective(s):

  • Students will work together to creatively draw their assigned planet.
  • Collaboratively, students will design and share their presentations with the class.
  • How does Earth compare in size to the other planets in our solar system?
  • What are some of the key characteristics of the 8 planets?
Approximate Duration of the Lesson: Greater than 120 Minutes
Materials and Equipment:

Writing utensils, colored pencils, markers, white poster paper, science journal, ruler, green pea, blueberry, cherry tomato, black eyed pea, head of lettuce, head of cabbage, red new potato, mandarin orange

Technology Resources Needed:

Computer, Internet access, Digital Camera, PowerPoint or other presentation software.


Teacher will know how to scale down the size of the planets and be familiar with each planets' characteristics.

Students should be knowledgeable of the 8 inner and outer planets. 

The following websites provide facts on each planet.


  1. Begin by asking the students to name aloud the eight planets of the solar system and list on the board.
  2. Teacher will divide the students into 8 collaborative groups and will give each group one fruit or vegetable.  The fruit/vegetable given will help the students understand the scale and sizes of the planets.  Let the students guess the planet they have by the fruit/vegetable they were given.
  3. Groups will be told the correct planet they are to research and physically stand in the planets correct place in the room with their fruit/vegetable.  For instance, the teacher will say that the group with a cherry tomato has the planet earth and it is the 3rd planet from the sun.  Starting from the planet closest to the sun and then out, the groups will stand accordingly.  (Mercury-green pea, Venus-blueberry, Earth-cherry tomato, Mars-black eyed pea, Jupiter-head of lettuce, Saturn-head of cabbage, Uranus-red new potato, Neptune-mandarin orange)
  4. Each group will begin researching characteristics of their planets.
  5. The groups will creatively list key characteristics by using the letters of their planet.  For example:  E-_____, A-An Inner Planet, R- Made of Rock and surrounded by layer of gas called atmosphere, T-Third planet from the sun, H-_______
  6. Each group will have enough information about their assigned planet to inform the class with their presentations and will answer the following: What is something fascinating about your planet that you would like for us to know?  How big is your planet?  Why do you think your planet is an inner/outer planet?
  7. The 8 groups will draw and color on poster paper their correct scaled size of their planet, in inches, to be displayed in the classroom.  Diameters of planets:  Mercury 4,880km (.19 in x 5 = .96 in) .96 in diameter,  Venus 12,104km (.47 in x 5 = 2.38 in) 2.38 in diameter,  Earth 12,756km (.50 in x 5 = 2.51 in) 2.51 in diameter,  Mars 6,794km (.26 in x 5 = 1.33 in) 1.33 in diameter, Jupiter 142,984km (5.63 in x 5 = 28.15 in) 28.15 in diameter, Saturn 120,536km (4.74 in x 5 = 23.72 in) 23.72 in diameter, Uranus 51,118km (2.01 in x 5 = 10.06 in) 10.06 in diameter, Neptune 46,532km (1.83 in x 5 = 9.15 in) 9.15 in diameter
  8. (Optional)  The teacher will explain how to scale down the diameter in kilometers of each planet to inches.  The students will follow the mathematical example to scale down their assigned planet.  Example: 1km = 1,000 mm  (Mercury 4,880 km/1,000 mm = 4.88mm)  1mm = .03937 in (4.88mm x .03937 in = .19 in) (.19 in x 5 = .96 in, round up to 1 in.)         For visual purposes, we will multiply each planet's diameter by 5.  The number 5 is used so that the smallest will be at least an inch and be visible on the poster.  Also that the largest planet will fit on the poster.  The key characteristics, (using their planets letters like E.A.R.T.H.) will also be written on the poster.
  9. Reviewing their work, the 8 groups will create a presentation using PowerPoint, Prezi, Voice Thread, or others that are teacher approved.  The groups will introduce the planet, describe characteristics, answer assigned questions, show one or two images of the planet and include a picture of their designed poster.  They will creatively use the fruit or vegetable they were given comparing the planet's sizes to each other to end the presentation. 


Attachments:**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download. Lively_LessonPlanRubric.docx
Assessment Strategies:

The students will grade one another using a collaborative group rubric.  Students will write a one page essay on the planet they learned about including their favorite planet from the group presentations.  The teacher will give an overall assessment on the poster and presentations of the groups.


Students in need of remediation may be given additional level-appropriate reading materials on related topics.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior

Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.
Variations Submitted by ALEX Users:
Alabama Virtual Library
Alabama Virtual Library

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The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Malone Family Foundation
The Malone Family Foundation
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