Science /

Unit 5e – Earth, Sun and Moon

/ Term: Autumn /

Year Group: 5/6

Objective and background


Main teaching – lesson 1



To learn the names and order of the planets
To learn how long it takes: for the Earth to orbit the Sun; for Earth to spin once on own axis; for the Moon to orbit the Earth etc
To learn why we have day and night
G&T Use facts to find out how long it would take to fly to each of the planets from Earth /
  • The Earth’s axis is tilted at 23.5 to the plane of its rotation (anticlockwise).
  • The Earth is held in orbit round Sun by the Sun’s gravitational pull. Earths moves at 30km/s
  • The Sun is a star. All stars give out a large amount of heat, light and other forms of energy
  • The Moon does not spin on its axis so we always see the same side of it
  • All the planets in the Solar System, except Mercury and Venus, have moons. The Earth’s moon is one of the largest; about ¼ the size of the Earth. It takes 28 days for the Moon to orbit the Earth
  • All planets orbit Sun anticlockwise and in the same plane except Pluto
  • NB: The Solar System - concept cartoon
  • The Sun is a star – hydrogen and helium – produces light. A planet does not. (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto are made of gas)
  • Definition from International Astronomers Union: "A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet."
  • MPeG fly-by: An artist conception flyby view of the 12 currently known planets in the solar system, whose status are pending the approval of the proposed IAU resolution. - Starting from the Sun. Note: The planets are not drawn to scale.
  • Consolidate Sun’s gravitational pull keeps Earth in orbit. How long does it take for Earth to make one orbit of Sun? (364 ¼ days – anticlockwise. 365 days, 5 hours, 48mins 46 sec.s) Over correction, so every centurial year e.g. not divisible by 4, eg 1800, 2100 a leap year does not occur)
  • The Earth spins on its own axis. How long does it take to rotate once? (24 hours – 1 day) The Earth’s gravitational pull keeps the Moon in orbit. How long does it take for the Moon to orbit the Earth once? (28 days / 27 days, 7hours, 43 mins)
  • How long does it take to fly to America? Explain G&T task, (see right) write class estimates on board


  • Learn the order of the Planets: My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets (SEN: photocopy of Solar System + spellings)
  • What is the main difference between a star and a planet?
  • Draw the Sun, Earth and Moon, draw orbits and write in times
/ G&T
Using statistics: if an aeroplane travels at an average speed of 900km/h, how long would it take to travel to each of the planets starting from Earth?
Share findings. Who was the closest?!