#2847. Mercury, Venus, and Earth

Science, level: Middle
Posted Mon Apr 21 16:49:07 PDT 2003 by Lisa Kwisnek (czdk@iup.edu).
Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Pennsylvania
Materials Required: lots
Activity Time: 45-50 minutes
Concepts Taught: Facts about planets

Lesson 2: Mercury, Venus, and Earth

Lisa Kwisnek
April 3, 2003
4th Grade-24 students
Instruction Time- 45-50minutes


The purpose of this lesson is to have the students learn information about the planets Mercury, Venus, and Earth. These facts include simple facts; such as Earth is the third planet from the sun. These facts also include more complex information, such as Mercury has only been visited by one spacecraft, Mariner 10.

The students have sufficient background knowledge and experience for this lesson. The students already know simple facts about the Earth because that is the planet that we live on. They might also know some information about the other planets by watching the Discovery Channel on television or any other channel that shows educational programs about the planets. The students have also learned facts about the planets last year, in their third grade science class.


1. TLW describe the composition and structure of the universe and Earth’s place in the universe. TLW recognize Earth’s place in the solar system. TLW identify planets in our solar system and their general characteristics. (PA Standard 3.4.4.D; UO #1 and #2; cognitive)

PI: After going over facts about the planets of Mercury, Venus, and Earth, the students will participate in a game. They will answer at least ninety percent of the questions correctly while playing the game, “The Planet Game.” [Individual assessment]

2. TLW compare various planets’ characteristics in our solar system. (PA Standard 3.4.7.D; UO #1 and #2; cognitive)

PI: After playing “The Planet Game,” the students will compare at least two of the planets out of the three planets (Mercury, Venus, and Earth). The students will write down on a sheet of paper at least five comparisons. These comparisons will be similarities and differences. The students will show that they know how to compare various planets’ characteristics by receiving at least a ninety percent on their five comparisons. [Individual assessment]


• The planets Mercury, Venus, and Earth (made out of construction paper) glued on to popsicle sticks (each person should receive all three of these planets)
• A different planet made out of construction paper, for example Mars (these will have the questions on for the Planet Game) The questions are as followed:

 What planet is the closest to the sun? (Mercury)

 What planet gets very hot during the day, but then very cold at night? (Mercury)

 What planet takes an ellipse path around the sun? (Mercury)

 What is the eighth largest planet? (Mercury)

 What planet is rocky and made up mostly of iron? (Mercury or Venus)

 What planet has been visited only once by a spacecraft? (Mercury)

 What planet has Mariner 10 visited? (Mercury)

 What planet is the second densest major body in the solar system? (Mercury)

 What planet has no moons or rings? (Mercury)

 What planet is the second from the sun? (Venus)

 What planet takes a nearly circular path around the sun? (Venus)

 What planet rotates for East to West? (Venus)

 What planet in the solar system is the sixth largest? (Venus)

 What planet has numerous volcanoes on its surface? (Venus)

 What planet is called Earth’s sister planet? (Venus)

 What planet has a young surface? (Venus)

 What planet’s atmosphere is made of carbon dioxide gas? (Venus)

 What planet is the third planet form the sun? (Earth)

 The orbit of this planet is a perfect circle. (Earth)

 This is the fifth largest planet in the solar system. (Earth)

 What planet only has one moon? (Earth)

 What is the only planet in the solar system to have solar eclipses? (Earth)

 What planet is the densest major body in the solar system? (Earth)

 This planet has three times the amount of water than land. (Earth)

• 24 sheets of computer paper (for students to write there five comparisons on)
• Pencils/pens (for students to write with on computer paper)
• Chalkboard
• Chalk
• Chalkboard eraser
• Prizes (ex. Stickers, pens, pencils, etc.)
• www.dustbunny.com/afk/planets/earth/earth.htm
• www.dusbunny.com/afk/planets/venus/venus.htm
• www.dustbunny.com/afk/planets/mercury/mercury.htm
• seds.lpl.arizona.edu/nineplanets/nineplanets/mercury.html
• www.pde.state.pa.us/k12/lib/k12/scitech.pdf


Information about the planets is presented many times during the year because of the National Aeronautics And Space Administration (NASA). NASA sends people to space every year, so that they can bring back information about other planets and other objects that are floating in space.

It is important for students to know about the planet Earth because they live on that planet. It is also important for students to know about other planets, so that they will be able to expand their general knowledge.

It is vital to get students interested in science when they are young, so that one-day they might work for the National Aeronautics And Space Administration (NASA).


A. Introduction and Motivation

“Hello class, well today we are going to have fun. Today our lesson in science is going to be dealing with the three closest planets to the sun. Can anyone tell me the names of the three planets that are closest to the sun?” The students should not have any difficulty coming up with the name of the three planets, but if they are, then you (the teacher) should start writing on the board the name of all nine planets to help the students.

B. Lesson Body

1. Ask the students what saying (mnemonic device) we learned last week to help us remember the name and the order of the planets. If the students are having trouble remembering the mnemonic device, then start writing the first letter from each word on the chalkboard.

2. Ask the students what information they already know about Mercury, Venus, and Earth.

3. Hand out to the students the packet of planets (see pages 8, 9, & 10). This packet will provide the students with additional information about the planets of Mercury, Venus, and Earth. Once all students have received a packet, call on volunteers to read the facts about the planets aloud. Call on at least two students to read each page (six students in total).

4. Next, ask each student in the classroom what piece of information he/she thought was the most fascinating about a planet. It is a good idea to ask each student, so that each student will have an opportunity to speak.

5. Give the students approximately five to ten minutes to study their fact packet about the planets. Once the students are finished studying, give each student a planet of Mars to have them write down on it a question that will be used during the trivia game (remember to tell the students that besides having the question on the Mars, you also want them to place the answer underneath their question). Have the students give their trivia questions to you.

6. Pass out a Mercury, Venus, and Mars, to each student in your classroom. Tell the students, “Now we are going to be playing “The Planet Game.” Explain the rules for “The Planet Game” to the students. The rules of the game are as followed:

 The game will last approximately 5-10 minutes.

 The objective of the game is not to miss any questions during the game.

 Everyone will need to stand up next to his or her seat.

 I will be reading a trivia question to each student separately, one at a time.

 Once I have read the trivia question, you will need to hold up the planet that you think is the one that corresponds with the question. For example, if I asked which planet has life on it, then you would hold up your planet Earth.

 If you get the answer correct, then you will remain standing. If you happen to get the answer wrong, then you will sit down and that particular question goes to the bottom of the question pile. After you sit down you will loose a turn during the next round of questions, but after that, you will stand up again and receive more questions.

 At the end of the game the student that did not have to sit down once or who sat down the least amount of times during the entire game wins and receives a prize.

C. Closure

After the game has ended, hand out to the students a sheet of computer paper and tell the students to write down five comparisons about at least two of the planets that we have just studied. Tell the students that these comparisons can be similarities or differences.


If the students are able to successfully complete the activities dealing with the planets Mercury, Venus, and Earth, then the teacher could do this types of activity again with the other planets: Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.


All students in your classroom are going to have different skills. This is why it is vital to have different levels of difficulty, so that all students will continue to learn. If I had a few students in my classroom that were gifted, then I would give them an information sheet about the planets Mercury, Venus, and Earth that had more complicated information. I would also alter the game slightly by asking these students harder questions, when it was their turn to answer a question during The Planet Game.


a. Student Assessment

1. Assessment Plan

Students’ understanding of the concepts presented will be assessed both informally and formally. The students will be informally assessed by teacher’s interaction with the students and observation of the students while they participate in “The Planet Game.” The students will then be formally assessed, when they write five comparisons of the planets whether they are similarities or differences.

2. Reflection on Assessment of Student Performance

a. What did each and every one of my students learn?

b. How do I know?

c. Which students did not meet the requirements of the performance indicators? Indicate how you will assist them to meet these requirements.

b. Self-Evaluation

i. What were the strengths of the lesson?

ii. What areas of the lesson need improvement?

iii. What would I do differently, if I were to reteach this lesson?

iv. What biases, if any, existed in the materials, activities, language, or interactions with children?

v. Did anything surprise me?