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8(7) Earth and space. The student knows the effects resulting from cyclical movements of the Sun, Earth, and Moon. The student is expected to:

(A) model and illustrate how the tilted Earth rotates on its axis, causing day and night, and revolves around the Sun causing changes in seasons.

Vocabulary/ Preliminary Concepts:

Rotation—the Earth rotates (spins) on its axis, completing one turn every 24 hours

Revolution—the Earth revolves (orbits) around the Sun, completing one orbit every year

Tilt—the Earth’s axis is tilted about 23.5 degrees compared to its orbit around the Sun

Scale of the Sun-Earth System—the Sun is about 100 times wider than the Earth, and not very close.  If the Sun was a basketball, the Earth would be about the size of a pencil eraser, at 260 feet away!

Activities for Teaching Seasons

  • Data Inquiry Activity: Heating Things Up
    Students graph average high monthly temperatures for different cities to learn how temperatures vary by location and by season.
  • Vocabulary Matching
    Students can match the terms and descriptions—this can be played like a game with a short time limit, or like concentration/memory.
  • SunWatchers
    Students observe the sunrise and sunset positions of the Sun and its altitude in the sky over a year to connect with the Sun’s apparent motions over a year.
  • Reasons for Seasons
    Students explore a model of the Earth’s daily rotation and annual revolution around the Sun.  There are a variety of write-ups for this activity available from different sources; another great sources is the GEMS guide Reasons for the Seasons.
  • Daylight Hours
    Students reinforce their understanding of seasonal dynamics by analyzing graphs of day-length data to match them to cities on a world map.


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