The spinning of our Earth is called rotation. It rotates once every 24 hours as it orbits the sun on its 365-day trip. Because they can be easily confused, the more activities you can work into your lesson plans that are focused on the rotation of the planet, the easier it will be for your students to remember and discern between the two. Keep reading to discover 20 lessons, hands-on activities, and unique ideas that are focused on the Earth’s rotation!
1. Crash Course Video
This unique video offers kids a quick and simplistic overview of the difference between rotation and revolution. It makes understanding rotation simple with an illustrative model and explanation of how it all works.
Learn More: YouTube
2. Simple Sundial
It would be next to impossible to have a rotation unit without creating a sundial. Having students use simple materials for this investigation makes it cost-effective and easy. Students will use a pencil and paper plate in the sun to see exactly how some ancient civilizations used to track time.
Learn More: The Science Penguin
3. Rotate vs Revolve Task Cards
These task cards are a nice review or reinforcement of the difference between rotating and revolving. Each card explains one or the other differently, and kids will use their knowledge and skills to decide whether it’s explaining rotation or revolving.
Learn More: Teachers Pay Teachers
4. Brainstorm Session
To start your lesson, you may want to have kids begin brainstorming about the different things that they think are related to the Earth’s rotation. This is a great way to address misconceptions and have kids get their minds focused on the topic. After your lessons, they can come back and add notes!
Learn More: The Science Penguin
5. Earth Rotation Craft
Kids will love this fun representation of the Earth’s rotation. Gather some string, beads, and a black and white printout of the planet Earth. Kids will be able to personalize the colors of their Earth and then glue it to string or yarn. Once they do, with a simple twist of the yarn and the Earth will rotate.
Learn More: The Craft Train
6. Earth’s Rotation Mockup
This simple craft has students coloring the Earth, Sun, and Moon. They will then piece them together with strips of construction paper and brads. The ability to spin the pieces will demonstrate how the Earth rotates and revolves around the sun at the same time.
7. Day and Night STEM Journal
This journal makes for a great long-term investigation. Kids can record what they experience each day and night in this journal for a month to make rotation relevant. Have them record sunrise/sunset times, star patterns, and more! After the investigation is complete, they can reflect on their findings and draw reasonable conclusions.
Learn More: Kid Pillar
8. Celebrate Earth’s Rotation Day
January 8 is officially Earth’s Rotation Day; the day that commemorates when the French physicist Leon Foucault demonstrated the Earth’s rotation. Have a fun party with your students celebrating the Earth’s rotation with round foods, crafts, and maybe even a video explaining more about the Earth’s rotation.
Learn More: Holiday Smart
9. Coloring Pages
Young students may not be ready to fully grasp the Earth’s rotation. But, that’s okay because you can still explain it on a level that’s appropriate for them. When you are done, finish up your lesson with a visual reminder using this adorable coloring page from Crayola.
Learn More: Crayola
10. Visual Representation
Sometimes, getting students to understand the difference between rotation and revolution is difficult. They sound the same and, without some investigation, it might be impossible to tell the difference. This simple exercise relies on a golf ball and another ball of clay to demonstrate how the Earth rotates as you wobble the pie pan.
Learn More: The Inspiration Edit
11. Simple Lighting Experiment
This simple experiment uses a desk lamp and a globe. As the globe rotates, the light will project on one side of it, representing how the rotation causes day and night time. Kids at all elementary levels will get a lot from this experiment.
Learn More: Life With More Babies
12. Record of the Earth’s Rotation
Because you can’t actually see the Earth’s rotation, this is always a fun way for kids to realize it’s happening. Use the sundial you created in the second activity above and record every hour where the shadow hits. Kids will be amazed at how it changes throughout the day!
Learn More: Gift of Curiosity
13. Interactive Worksheet
This worksheet is an exemplary model of how the Earth rotates. You can have the students utilize it in a science notebook or as a stand-alone worksheet. Either way, the Earth on a paper brad along with the sentence frames will help reinforce the idea of Earth’s rotation versus revolution.
Learn More: Super Sass and Science Class
14. Playdough on a Pencil
Kids love playdough! Allow them to craft a replica of the Earth using clay and then put it onto a pencil. Once it’s on the pencil, kids can see exactly what rotation is as they spin the “Earth” on the pencil.
Learn More: My Very Educated Mother
15. Writing About Rotation
This text set includes text, charts, and graphics all ready to teach your students. They will read about and then write about the Earth’s rotation. It’s a perfect blend of writing, reading, and science skills!
Learn More: Classful
16. Rotate Versus Revolve Explanation
Have students paste this visual in their interactive notebooks to learn the difference between rotation and revolving. This T-chart perfectly contrasts the differences between the two concepts and creates a visual that kids will be able to utilize again and again to study and remember.
Learn More: Pinterest
19. PowerPoint and Worksheet Combo
Have students take notes with these clever doodle notes while you move through the included PowerPoint on rotation and revolution. This set is perfect for students who are visual learners but also offers a great, low-prep opportunity to add some interest to your lesson.
20. Read Aloud
Read-alouds are still an amazing way to help kids absorb and learn information. It helps with listening comprehension and other skills. This particular book, Why Does the Earth Spin, gives kids a reasonable and understandable answer to this question and many others.
Learn More: Thriftbooks