Educational Resources Lets Talk Science Challenge participants

Sunset over the ocean

Sunset over the ocean (Free-Photos, Pixabay)

Day and Night

Let's Talk Science

Summary

Students learn about and apply observing, sorting & classifying, and comparing & contrasting skills as they learn about the cycle of day and night.

Overview

Students explore the cycle of day and night by sorting and classifying pictures, making observations of the Sun at different times of day, and reading books. 

Timing
30-45 minutes

Setting the Stage

Cycles are an important concept in many disciplines. In this inquiry, the familiar cycle of day and night provides a context for students to compare and contrast daily routines at home, at school and in their communities. It also provides opportunities for building understanding of the cross-curricular idea of “cycles.”

This inquiry could begin from:

  • questions and/or comments arising from the students about observed changes in their environment. Discuss using questions such as:
    • “When you look at the sky in the daytime, what do you see? When you look at the sky at night, what do you see?”
    • “What do you notice about where the Sun is when you get up, when you go out at lunchtime, and when you go home at the end of the day?”
Image of sunrise in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut
Image of sunrise in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut (Source: Scott Taylor, used with permission).
  • a collection of day and night pictures, words and symbols. Discuss using questions such as:
    • “You saw the card with the word ‘cycle’ on it. What do you think of when you see the word ‘cycle’? Why would that word be with these pictures of the Sun and the Moon?”
    • “What does a cycle remind you of? (e.g., a pattern in mathematics.)
Phases of the moon
Phases of the moon (Source: OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay).
  • reading a book such as Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Day and Night. Discuss using questions such as:
    • (Using a globe) “Here is where we live. When we see the Sun, what do you think people on the other side of the world see? Why do you think that?”
Cover of Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Day and Night
Cover image from the book Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Day and Night by Jacqui Bailey
(Source: Open Library).

 

Details

Materials
  • A collection of day and night pictures, words and symbols
  • A variety of sorting mats
  • Hoops or yarn for Venn diagrams, or Venn diagram drawn on chart paper
  • Flashlights
Students exploring the Earth’s rotation with a globe
Students exploring the Earth’s rotation with a globe (Source: vgajic via iStockphoto).

 

Materials
  • A collection of day and night pictures, words and symbols
  • A variety of sorting mats
  • Hoops or yarn for Venn diagrams, or Venn diagram drawn on chart paper
  • Flashlights
Students exploring the Earth’s rotation with a globe
Students exploring the Earth’s rotation with a globe (Source: vgajic via iStockphoto).

 

Preparation
  • Think about a learning strategy such as Sorting Mats to support students’ development of the skill of sorting and classifying. 
  • Find out how the Earth’s rotation on its axis causes day and night.
Diagram showing how the Earth’s rotation on its axis causes day and night
Diagram showing how the Earth’s rotation on its axis causes day and night (Let’s Talk Science using an image by Sean Baker [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons).

 

Preparation
  • Think about a learning strategy such as Sorting Mats to support students’ development of the skill of sorting and classifying. 
  • Find out how the Earth’s rotation on its axis causes day and night.
Diagram showing how the Earth’s rotation on its axis causes day and night
Diagram showing how the Earth’s rotation on its axis causes day and night (Let’s Talk Science using an image by Sean Baker [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons).

 

What to Do

Students learn about and apply the skills of Observing, Sorting & Classifying and Comparing & Contrasting as they learn about the cycle of day and night. 

Students: 

  • explore the picture, word and symbol cards individually and/or in small groups.
    • Educator observes and documents, including students’ questions and wonderings for use in the development of further learning through inquiry.
  • make and record observations about the position of the Sun at different times of day.
  • brainstorm what happens to the Sun at night.
  • make and record observations about the position of the Sun at different times of day.
    • Educator facilitates and then allows students to explore independently.
  • describe, in pictures and words, what life on Earth would be like without the cycle of day and night.
Student shining flashlight on globe
Student shining flashlight on globe (Source: Stephen Lippa, used with permission).

 

What to Do

Students learn about and apply the skills of Observing, Sorting & Classifying and Comparing & Contrasting as they learn about the cycle of day and night. 

Students: 

  • explore the picture, word and symbol cards individually and/or in small groups.
    • Educator observes and documents, including students’ questions and wonderings for use in the development of further learning through inquiry.
  • make and record observations about the position of the Sun at different times of day.
  • brainstorm what happens to the Sun at night.
  • make and record observations about the position of the Sun at different times of day.
    • Educator facilitates and then allows students to explore independently.
  • describe, in pictures and words, what life on Earth would be like without the cycle of day and night.
Student shining flashlight on globe
Student shining flashlight on globe (Source: Stephen Lippa, used with permission).

 

Assessment

Observe and document, using anecdotal comments, photos and/or video recordings, students’ ability to:

  • Sort – students sort pictures on the basis of a common attribute 
  • Classify – students classify:
    • objects according to self-determined and given criteria and describe the criteria
    • pictures according to multiple attributes 
  • Compare & Contrast – students identify similarities and differences between day and night 
  • Observe and Record – students determine an appropriate method to record their observations of the position of the Sun at different times during the day
  • Communicate – students identify the Sun as the principal source of heat and light on Earth and describe what life would be like where they live without the cycle of day and night
Students using a sundial to measure the movement of the Sun
Students using a sundial to measure the movement of the Sun (Source: Stephen Lippa, used with permission).

 

Assessment

Observe and document, using anecdotal comments, photos and/or video recordings, students’ ability to:

  • Sort – students sort pictures on the basis of a common attribute 
  • Classify – students classify:
    • objects according to self-determined and given criteria and describe the criteria
    • pictures according to multiple attributes 
  • Compare & Contrast – students identify similarities and differences between day and night 
  • Observe and Record – students determine an appropriate method to record their observations of the position of the Sun at different times during the day
  • Communicate – students identify the Sun as the principal source of heat and light on Earth and describe what life would be like where they live without the cycle of day and night
Students using a sundial to measure the movement of the Sun
Students using a sundial to measure the movement of the Sun (Source: Stephen Lippa, used with permission).

 

Co-constructed Learning
Students:
Saying, Doing, Representing
Educator:
Interactions: Responding, Challenging
Students sort and classify pictures, words, and symbols related to day and night and identify patterns in day and night.
  • “I notice that you used a T-chart to sort the pictures. What can you tell me about the pictures on this side?”
  • “What is day? What is night? What patterns do you notice in days and nights? How would you describe those patterns? What other patterns do you know that are the same?”
  • “What are some other ways you can sort and classify the pictures, words and symbols? What is your sorting rule?”
Students compare and contrast day and night.
  • “We have talked about a lot of things that are different between day and night. Is there anything that is the same? (e.g., “Day and night both have light. Daytime light comes from the Sun. Nighttime light comes from the Moon. Daytime light is usually brighter.”) How can we use a Venn diagram to show the things that are the same and the things that are different?”
Students observe the movement of the Sun at various points in the day and determine an appropriate method to record their observations. **Safety note: never look directly at the Sun
  • “Caitlin suggested that we need to record the position of Sun from the same place every time we make our observations. Why is this an important thing to do?”
  • “What are some ways that we can record our observations of the Sun’s position at different times during the day?”
  • “Shahir included his shadow in his recordings. What do you notice about his shadow in these pictures? What caused the changes in his shadow?”
  • “I wonder if our observations would change if we repeated our inquiry in the winter and in the spring. What do you predict would be the same? What do you predict would be different? How might our shadows change? What makes you think that?”
Students explain how the Earth’s rotation on its axis causes the cycle of day and night.
  • “Where does the Sun go at night? Where does the Moon go during the daytime? How can we find out?” 
  • “In our exploration, what did you conclude about why the Sun seems to change its position in the sky?”
  • “Where is the Moon when the Sun is visible in the sky?”
Students identify the Sun as the principal source of heat and light on Earth and describe what life would be like where they live without the Sun.
  • “What would life where we live be like if we never saw the Sun? Why do you think that?”
  • “Why are there some things that we only do at night and not in the daytime or that we only do in the daylight and not at night? (e.g.,We only set off fireworks at night because we would not be able to see them in the daytime; Many children and adults only ride their bikes in the daytime as it is easier for them to see and be seen)
  • “When do you predict is the warmest time of the day? Would this be the same if the Sun wasn’t shining? How can we find out?”

 

Co-constructed Learning
Students:
Saying, Doing, Representing
Educator:
Interactions: Responding, Challenging
Students sort and classify pictures, words, and symbols related to day and night and identify patterns in day and night.
  • “I notice that you used a T-chart to sort the pictures. What can you tell me about the pictures on this side?”
  • “What is day? What is night? What patterns do you notice in days and nights? How would you describe those patterns? What other patterns do you know that are the same?”
  • “What are some other ways you can sort and classify the pictures, words and symbols? What is your sorting rule?”
Students compare and contrast day and night.
  • “We have talked about a lot of things that are different between day and night. Is there anything that is the same? (e.g., “Day and night both have light. Daytime light comes from the Sun. Nighttime light comes from the Moon. Daytime light is usually brighter.”) How can we use a Venn diagram to show the things that are the same and the things that are different?”
Students observe the movement of the Sun at various points in the day and determine an appropriate method to record their observations. **Safety note: never look directly at the Sun
  • “Caitlin suggested that we need to record the position of Sun from the same place every time we make our observations. Why is this an important thing to do?”
  • “What are some ways that we can record our observations of the Sun’s position at different times during the day?”
  • “Shahir included his shadow in his recordings. What do you notice about his shadow in these pictures? What caused the changes in his shadow?”
  • “I wonder if our observations would change if we repeated our inquiry in the winter and in the spring. What do you predict would be the same? What do you predict would be different? How might our shadows change? What makes you think that?”
Students explain how the Earth’s rotation on its axis causes the cycle of day and night.
  • “Where does the Sun go at night? Where does the Moon go during the daytime? How can we find out?” 
  • “In our exploration, what did you conclude about why the Sun seems to change its position in the sky?”
  • “Where is the Moon when the Sun is visible in the sky?”
Students identify the Sun as the principal source of heat and light on Earth and describe what life would be like where they live without the Sun.
  • “What would life where we live be like if we never saw the Sun? Why do you think that?”
  • “Why are there some things that we only do at night and not in the daytime or that we only do in the daylight and not at night? (e.g.,We only set off fireworks at night because we would not be able to see them in the daytime; Many children and adults only ride their bikes in the daytime as it is easier for them to see and be seen)
  • “When do you predict is the warmest time of the day? Would this be the same if the Sun wasn’t shining? How can we find out?”

 

Cross-curricular Connections

Literacy

  • Demonstrate an understanding of information and ideas by retelling (e.g., restating the information about how the Earth’s rotation on its axis causes the cycle of day and night)

Mathematical Thinking

  • Recognize, explore, describe, and compare patterns (e.g., the patterns in the cycle of day and night)
  • Measure, using non-standard units of the same size and/or standard units, and compare objects, materials, and spaces in terms of their temperature, and explore ways of measuring the passage of time (e.g., measure and compare temperatures throughout the day, measure the passage of time by tracking the movement of the Sun throughout the day)

Visual Arts

  • Communicate feelings, ideas, and understanding in response to art works and art experiences ((e.g., explore and discuss aspects of a painting such as Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night)
Cross-curricular Connections

Literacy

  • Demonstrate an understanding of information and ideas by retelling (e.g., restating the information about how the Earth’s rotation on its axis causes the cycle of day and night)

Mathematical Thinking

  • Recognize, explore, describe, and compare patterns (e.g., the patterns in the cycle of day and night)
  • Measure, using non-standard units of the same size and/or standard units, and compare objects, materials, and spaces in terms of their temperature, and explore ways of measuring the passage of time (e.g., measure and compare temperatures throughout the day, measure the passage of time by tracking the movement of the Sun throughout the day)

Visual Arts

  • Communicate feelings, ideas, and understanding in response to art works and art experiences ((e.g., explore and discuss aspects of a painting such as Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night)
Extending the Learning

If your students are interested in learning more, the following may provoke their curiosity: 

  • Indigenous cultures have stories about how the Sun came to be. Read stories such as How Raven Stole the Sun, and How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun, and ask students to compare and contrast the stories
  • Some places in Canada close to the North Pole have sunlight 24 hours a day at certain times in the spring and summer, and 24 hours of darkness throughout the winter months. If you live in one of these communities, how are your daily routines different in 24-hour sunlight and 24-hour darkness? If you don't live in one of these communities, describe how you think your routines would be different in 24-hour sunlight and 24-hour darkness.
Cover of How Raven Stole the Sun
Cover of How Raven Stole the Sun by Maria Williams (Source: Open Library).
  • Obtain a picture of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting ‘Starry Night’ (don’t share the title). Ask students to describe what they see, what the picture reminds them of, and how the picture makes them feel. Discuss what colours the artist used (i.e., various shades of blue) and why they think he used them. Look at the swirls and discuss what they represent (i.e., the wind), and what the yellow and white circular shapes might be. Ask students to suggest an appropriate title for the painting. Students who are interested may wish to paint their version of the painting.
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh (Source: Vincent Van Gogh [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons).

 

Extending the Learning

If your students are interested in learning more, the following may provoke their curiosity: 

  • Indigenous cultures have stories about how the Sun came to be. Read stories such as How Raven Stole the Sun, and How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun, and ask students to compare and contrast the stories
  • Some places in Canada close to the North Pole have sunlight 24 hours a day at certain times in the spring and summer, and 24 hours of darkness throughout the winter months. If you live in one of these communities, how are your daily routines different in 24-hour sunlight and 24-hour darkness? If you don't live in one of these communities, describe how you think your routines would be different in 24-hour sunlight and 24-hour darkness.
Cover of How Raven Stole the Sun
Cover of How Raven Stole the Sun by Maria Williams (Source: Open Library).
  • Obtain a picture of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting ‘Starry Night’ (don’t share the title). Ask students to describe what they see, what the picture reminds them of, and how the picture makes them feel. Discuss what colours the artist used (i.e., various shades of blue) and why they think he used them. Look at the swirls and discuss what they represent (i.e., the wind), and what the yellow and white circular shapes might be. Ask students to suggest an appropriate title for the painting. Students who are interested may wish to paint their version of the painting.
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh (Source: Vincent Van Gogh [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons).

 

Supporting Media
Cover image from the book Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Day and Night
Cover image from the book Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Day and Night by Jacqui Bailey
(Source: Open Library).

Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Night and Day
by Jacqui Bailey
What makes the sun rise and set? Our planet is spinning in a universe of sun, moon, and stars. See how the day unfolds in one family’s backyard in this story of Earth and sun.
ISBN: 9781404811287

 

 

Cover of How Raven Stole the Sun
Cover of How Raven Stole the Sun by Maria Williams (Source: Open Library).

How Raven Stole the Sun
by Maria Williams
A long time ago, Raven was pure white, like fresh snow in winter. A greedy chief had the stars, moon, and sun locked up in carved boxes. Raven transformed himself into the chief's grandson and tricked him into opening the boxes and releasing the starlight, moonlight and the sun. When he gets trapped in the chief’s house, Raven’s only escape is through the small smoke hole at the top.
ISBN: 9780789201638

 

Supporting Media
Cover image from the book Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Day and Night
Cover image from the book Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Day and Night by Jacqui Bailey
(Source: Open Library).

Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Night and Day
by Jacqui Bailey
What makes the sun rise and set? Our planet is spinning in a universe of sun, moon, and stars. See how the day unfolds in one family’s backyard in this story of Earth and sun.
ISBN: 9781404811287

 

 

Cover of How Raven Stole the Sun
Cover of How Raven Stole the Sun by Maria Williams (Source: Open Library).

How Raven Stole the Sun
by Maria Williams
A long time ago, Raven was pure white, like fresh snow in winter. A greedy chief had the stars, moon, and sun locked up in carved boxes. Raven transformed himself into the chief's grandson and tricked him into opening the boxes and releasing the starlight, moonlight and the sun. When he gets trapped in the chief’s house, Raven’s only escape is through the small smoke hole at the top.
ISBN: 9780789201638

 

Learn More

Sun: Sunset (Picture Collections)

Many people think the nicest time of day is when the sun is setting. Here are 5 images of scenes showing various sunsets. 

Moon: Phases (Picture Collections)

Here are 8 images of different lunar phases showing the portion of the Moon lit by the Sun as the Moon orbits the Earth and as seen by us on Earth.

Why can we see shadows at night? (Hands-on Activities)

Take a walk after dark to find shadows. 

How can I tell which way is north at night? (Hands-on Activities)

Do you like to look at the stars? What can you identify in the night sky? Try finding some important constellations tonight!

Learn More

Sun: Sunset (Picture Collections)

Many people think the nicest time of day is when the sun is setting. Here are 5 images of scenes showing various sunsets. 

Moon: Phases (Picture Collections)

Here are 8 images of different lunar phases showing the portion of the Moon lit by the Sun as the Moon orbits the Earth and as seen by us on Earth.

Why can we see shadows at night? (Hands-on Activities)

Take a walk after dark to find shadows. 

How can I tell which way is north at night? (Hands-on Activities)

Do you like to look at the stars? What can you identify in the night sky? Try finding some important constellations tonight!