NASA has so may wonderful resources that you can use in your classroom. I saw this great website (link) that compared the Earth and Mars using a chart with detailed infographics. Using the information posted, I created a ppt to go along with the website and a cut-n-paste activity worksheet for their notes.
Earth and Mars Comparison Slides (ppt) – select ‘read only‘ to view
Each student will receive a blank Earth and Mars comparison chart. They will cut out the facts and sort them into either the Earth or Mars column, and place them next to the categories that are found in the center of the page: such as Diameter, Gravity, and Length of Day. They can work with their partner to discuss their ideas as they sort through the facts.
Once everyone was ready, we went over the answers as a class. If the student had the answer in the right position, they glued it into their notes. If it was incorrect, they placed the fact to the side for later and put the right answer into its place, and glued it on.
The next day, I asked the kids to recall facts about Mars and Earth before they opened their notes and I was happy with how much they were able to remember from doing this activity.
We recently started our Mars Unit and I wanted to have a fun/active way to connect our unit on the Moon to our new unit on Mars. This activity can be used in a few different ways, I used the first lesson posted below.
16 facts, printed, cut apart, and glued onto index cards (in pdf above)
Whole class activity
After discussing what we know about Mars (accessing prior knowledge) and guessing how big Mars is compared to Earth (many were not really sure), I gave each student one of the sixteen facts. They were not to share their facts with the class until it was their turn to present.
They may or may not know the answer to their fact, and we discussed this first. I told them I would give them clues if they needed help and not to worry too much about getting the answer ‘wrong’.
After a minute or so to think about it, I asked the person with Fact #1 to stand and read their fact to the class. The rest of class was to think about the fact and where it might go into the Venn Diagram, but not share their answers.
The person with Fact #1 then had to guess where the fact fit into the Venn Diagram. Once they gave the right answer, I clicked on the ppt and the answer popped up on the screen.
Everyone wrote fact #1 into their notes.
Then I asked the person with Fact #2 to read their fact to the class, and so on until all 16 facts were posted.
We would discuss each fact and any questions they might have.
If you have more than 16 students, you can have them work with a partner and guess together.
Instead of each student having only one fact, you can have the class work in cooperative groups and give one set of the 16 facts to a group of 4 students. They will cut apart the facts (or you can give them the facts pre-cut) and one student will work on fact #’s 1-4, another #’s 5-8, third on #’s 9-12, and the 4th on #’s 13-16.
The students will discuss the facts within their group and place them on top of the Venn Diagram.
Once each group has had a chance to discuss their facts, you can go over the answers as a class and have each student write the facts into their notes.
Independent Seat Work, or as part of a Station/Center/Review
You can also do this activity where each student will cut out all 16 facts and work independently to figure out where each fact would go in the Venn Diagram. They will then write in the facts as each answer is discussed.
As a station/center activity/review, you can have a blank laminated Venn Diagram, a laminated answer key, and laminated facts. Students can guess where each fact goes into the diagram, then check their work with the answer key and write the answers into their worksheet
Templates are cut out prior to activity and placed in a large zip-top bag, one set per group, (construction paper, oak tag, or plain computer paper works well)
Rulers & calculators
Pennies – 50 per group, then later 1 per student
Quarters – 1 per student
Styrofoam ball with a small flag, or something small, pinned to it
Details for the lesson are in the handout. As the students were working, I visited each group to check on their progress and hear their ideas. I held off on revealing the real answers to the first 3 parts until everyone was done with all of the activities and after we discussed our ideas and reasons for the choices they made as a class.
For the Rotation vs. Revolution, I had them try out their own ideas on how to make the penny rotate and revolve around the quarter before I demonstrated it with a styrofoam moon.
If you use this lesson in your class, write about it below 🙂
For more lessons about the Moon, visit my Moon Page.