Smiling in the Sun

Smiling in the Sun lesson plan

Sun science is the focus as you explore the Earth's rotation and revolution, the seasons, and night and day.

  • 1.

    Explore the concept of the Earth's rotation. With a partner, one of you holds a flashlight (the sun) and the other slowly rotates a large ball (Earth) with a small sticker on it. Figure out whether it is day or night where the sticker is, based on the position of the sun in relationship to Earth.

  • 2.

    Draw a 24-hour time line on roll paper with Crayola® Markers. For each hour, decide whether it is day or night where you live, and what you might be doing as the day goes on in summer and then in winter. How does the season affect whether it is light or dark during certain hours?

  • 3.

    Choose a time of day and a season. Paint yourself at your chosen time of day in the appropriate clothing and activity for the season on white paper. Where will the sun (or moon) be in your painting? Use Crayola® Washable Paint and paint brushes on paper plates to blend colors. Mix small amounts of paint on paper plates.

  • 4.

    Display your paintings in 24-hour order in a hallway gallery. Share observations about your paintings and subjects with visitors.


  • Students explore the relative positions of the sun and Earth, and how this affects changes from night to day at any point on Earth.
  • Children show their recognition of patterns in times and seasons through visual representation.
  • Children create a gallery display to show their knowledge that sunrise and sunset are due to the Earth's rotation every 24 hours.


  • Maintain a chart of daylight hours during the school year. How much is the variation each day? Each week? When are the shortest and longest days? What are they called?
  • Expand the topic to weather patterns. Add paintings of various types of weather, clippings of weather reports and pictures, and cards with weather words to your gallery.
  • Create a calendar with drawings of weather observed for a month. Use the calendar to informally assess each child's understanding of yearly weather patterns.