Grade 4:
Exploring Ecosystems

EXPLORING ECOSYSTEMS

Grade 4: Exploring Ecosystems

Unit Description

Students will use theatre and the visual arts to explore ecosystems. The unit’s projects will lead students to make discoveries about producers, consumers, and decomposers, as well as energy sources. Students will create an ecosystem diorama as well as a scripted puppet show. They will also be immersed in painting an Impressionistic Claude Monet piece as they learn about ecosystems.

Unit Essential Question

How can analyzing the similarities and differences between producers, consumers, and decomposers help us to better understand an ecosystem?

Real World Context

We study and analyze ecosystems because that is where we can find producers, consumers, and decomposers. These three important parts of an ecosystem live and thrive from using various energy sources. Understanding the foundation of ecosystems helps us as humans to better understand, conserve, and save our precious environment.

Cross-Cutting Interdisciplinary Concepts

Relationships
Comparison (Compare and Contrast)
Parts of a Whole

Projects

Project 1: Monet’s Water Lily Ecosystem
In this project, students will depict their individual versions of an Impressionistic oil based painting after studying the Water Lily series by Claude Monet. The students will paint on stretched canvas, creating an ecosystem much like the one that Monet depicted in his Gardens in Giverny in France. Students will review what an ecosystem consists of, paying close attention to consumers, producers, and decomposers. They will concentrate on painting the various types of consumers, producers, and decomposers as well as their energy sources in their Garden ecosystem.

Project 2: Ecosystem Puppet Show
In this project, students will work in small groups to design and construct a habitat using shoe boxes and art materials. These shoe box dioramas will serve as the backdrop and stage for an ecosystem puppet show that students will write and perform. Within each ecosystem, students will create a cast of puppet characters: producers, consumers, decomposers, and an energy source. Then students will bring the puppets to life in a scripted performance! This is an engaging and creative way to bring these ecosystem concepts to life for students.

Standards

Curriculum Standards

S4L1. Students will describe the roles of organisms and the flow of energy within an ecosystem

  1. Identify the roles of producers, consumers, and decomposers in a community
  2. Predict effects on a population if some of the plants or animals in the community are scarce or if there are too many

Arts Standards

VA4CU.2. Views and discusses selected artworks

  1. Identifies elements, principles, themes, and/or time period in a work of art

VA4PR.1. Creates artworks based on personal experience and selected themes

  1. Creates representational artworks from direct observation (e.g., landscape, still life, portrait)

VA4PR.2. Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes of two-dimensional art processes (drawing, painting, printmaking, mixed-media) using tools and materials in a safe and appropriate manner to develop skills

  1. Creates paintings with a variety of media (e.g., tempera, watercolor, acrylic)

VA4PR.3 Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes of three-dimensional works of art (ceramics, sculpture, crafts, and mixed-media) using tools and materials in a safe and appropriate manner to develop skills.

  1. Creates 3-D artwork that demonstrates a design concept: open or closed form, proportion, balance, color scheme, and movement

VA4MC.1 Engages in the creative process to generate and visualize ideas.

  1. Creates a series of thumbnail sketches to alter visual images (e.g., magnifying, reducing, repeating, or combining them in unusual ways) to change how they are perceived and interpreted.
  2. Formulates visual ideas by using a variety of resources (e.g., books, magazines, Internet)

TAES4.2 Developing scripts through improvisation and other theatrical methods

  1. Uses the playwriting process: pre-write/pre-play; prepare to write/plan dramatization; write/ dramatize; reflect and edit; re-write/play; publish/perform
  2. Analyzes the elements of a well-written script

TAES4.3 Acting by developing, communicating, and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments

  1. Uses articulation, volume and vocal variety to communicate thoughts, emotions and actions of a character
  2. Collaborates with an ensemble to create theatre
  3. Dramatizes literature and original scripts through various dramatic forms such as story drama, pantomime, process drama, puppetry, improvisation, and readers’ theatre

Character Education

Components

This unit provides a wonderful opportunity to review the important roles of people or animals in groups in their environment. When everyone does their part whether in a group setting or creating a project, the outcome will be a success! Comparing the relationships between producers, consumers, and decomposers in an environment blends in nicely when discussing the many roles that play out in a group setting.

Attributes

Respect

  • For one another
  • For the environment

Parts of a Whole

  • Cooperate/working in groups

Summative Assessment Tools

  • Monet Style Ecosystem Painting: Students will create a Monet style ecosystem garden painting focusing on the consumers, producers, and decomposers. They will also focus on the energy source used in their garden ecosystem.
  • Monet Style Ecosystem Painting Rubric: The student and teacher will use this rubric to critique their painting. (see Downloads)
  • Reflection Questions (for both projects): Students will use these questions to reflect on the important parts of the lessons taught. (see Downloads)
  • Student-written Ecosystem Script: Students will create an ecosystem script to go along with their puppet show.
  • Small Group Puppet Performance: Students will perform their ecosystem puppet show using their written ecosystem script.
  • Diorama of Habitat (including ecosystem characters): Students will use provided art supplies, along with a show box, to create a habitat for their ecosystem and their characters. This will be the backdrop for their puppet show.

Partnering with Fine Arts Teachers

Visual Arts Teacher:

  • Additional support in Project 1: Monet’s Water Lily Ecosystem
  • Assist with visual arts project by sharing Monet’s painting techniques as well as his overall style
  • Assist with providing ideas for different examples of paintings that incorporate gardens in their art work
  • Additional support in Project 2: Ecosystem Puppet Show
  • Assist with possible art supply ideas for diorama

Appendix (See Project Downloads)

  • Monet Style Ecosystem Painting Rubric
  • Reflection Questions-Monet Ecosystem
  • Ecosystem Puppet Show Rubric
  • Reflection Questions-Ecosystem Puppet Show
  • Examples of Dioramas

Credits

U.S. Department of Education
Arts in Education--Model Development and Dissemination Grants Program
Cherokee County (GA) School District and ArtsNow, Inc.
Ideas contributed and edited by:
Carmen Sutton, Betty-Ann Walker-Baker, Judy Stewart, Jessica Espinoza, Richard Benjamin Ph.D., Michele McClelland, Mary Ellen Johnson, Jane Gill

Monet's Water Lily Ecosystem

Science and Visual Arts

Description

In this project, students will depict their individual versions of an Impressionistic oil based painting after studying the Water Lily series by Claude Monet. The students will paint on stretched canvas, creating an ecosystem much like the one that Monet depicted in his Gardens in Giverny in France. Students will review what an ecosystem consists of, paying close attention to consumers, producers, and decomposers. They will concentrate on painting the various types of consumers, producers, and decomposers as well as their energy sources in their Garden ecosystem.

Learning Targets

“I Can…”

  • Identify consumers, producers, and decomposers
  • Explain energy sources
  • Use Impressionistic techniques while painting an ecosystem

Essential Questions

  • Why are producers an important part of the ecosystem?
  • What happens when you have an increase or decrease of producers in an ecosystem?
  • Why are consumers an important part of the ecosystem?
  • What happens when you have an increase or decrease of consumers in an ecosystem?
  • Why are decomposers an important part of the ecosystem?
  • What happens when you have an increase or decrease of decomposers in an ecosystem?
  • What are examples of energy sources in an ecosystem?
  • What are abiotic factors in an environment?
  • What are biotic factors in an environment?

Curriculum Standards

S4L1. Students will describe the roles of organisms and the flow of energy within an ecosystem

  1. Identify the roles of producers, consumers, and decomposers in a community
  2. Predict effects on a population if some of the plants or animals in the community are scarce or if there are too many

Arts Standards

VA4CU.2. Views and discusses selected artworks

  1. Identifies elements, principles, themes, and/or time period in a work of art

VA4PR.1. Creates artworks based on personal experience and selected themes

  1. Creates representational artworks from direct observation (e.g., landscape, still life, portrait)

VA4PR.2. Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes of two-dimensional art processes (drawing, painting, printmaking, mixed-media) using tools and materials in a safe and appropriate manner to develop skills

  1. Creates paintings with a variety of media (e.g., tempera, watercolor, acrylic)

Content Vocabulary

  • Ecosystem
  • Biotic
  • Abiotic
  • Consumer
  • Producer
  • Decomposer
  • Energy source

Arts Vocabulary

  • Background
  • Color
  • Emphasis
  • Subject Matter
  • Texture
  • Impressionist

Use of Technology

  • This Youtube video takes you on a tour of many of Claude Monet’s Water Lily paintings. (6 minutes/55 seconds) Water Lilies - Monet
  • This Youtube video is a real film of Claude Monet painting in his Garden in Giverny in France in 1915. (2 minutes/45 seconds) Claude Monet - Filmed Painting Outdoors
  • This Youtube video takes you on a tour of Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France. (4 minutes 3 seconds) Claude Monet's Garden

Formative Assessment

  • Teacher can make observations for class participation during all of the class discussions.

Summative Assessment

  • Monet Style Ecosystem Painting
  • Monet Style Ecosystem Painting Rubric (see Downloads)
  • Reflection Questions (see Downloads)

Materials

Stretched canvas, one per student; oil based paints; various sizes of paint brushes

Activating Strategy (5-10 min)

  • The students will view 2 separate video clips of Claude Monet painting in his flower garden as well as a clip that allows the class to see many of Monet’s various versions of his Water Lily series.
  • Share the following information with the class: Water Lilies is a series of approximately 250 oil paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet. The paintings depict Monet's flower garden at Giverny and were the main focus of Monet's artistic production during the last thirty years of his life.

Main Activity

Part 1:

  • As a whole group, view “Claude Monet's Garden” 4 minutes 3 seconds. In order to cut down on time, you could view the clip from the 1 minute 55 second mark till the 3 minute 6 second, as this part of the video focuses on the ponds and water lily plants.
  • Pause the video clip every once in awhile to ask the class what types of ecosystems they see. Create a list of the producers, consumers, and decomposers that inhabit these gardens.
  • Once the list is complete, ask the students where the producers, consumers, and decomposers received their energy. What is their energy source?

Part 2:

  • Discuss with the class the artistic methods Monet used in his paintings. (Big brush strokes, heavy use of oil based paint, etc.) This would be a good opportunity to ask the visual arts teacher at your school for assistance.
  • Each student will receive a stretched canvas, along with paint brushes and oil based paints.
  • The students will paint their own version of Monet’s water lilies. They will include a water source, plants, as well as animals that may live in this type of habitat. In essence they will be creating an ecosystem with consumers, producers, and decomposers. The students must also include the energy sources as well in their painting.
  • Once the paintings have dried, host a “Gallery Walk” with the class. The students will take a tour of each painting. As they view the paintings they will discuss and identify the consumers, producers, and decomposers as well as the energy sources.

Reflective Strategies

Students will answer the following Reflection Questions (see Downloads) using complete sentences:

  1. How did painting a Monet style painting help you better understand and identify producers, consumers, and decomposers? Why is the energy source for producers, consumers, and decomposers an important part of an ecosystem?

Differentiation

Below Grade Level/EL Students:

  • Students would benefit from a short lesson, before this lesson is taught. This group of students could to be shown several examples of consumers, producers, and decomposers in various ecosystems. Perhaps focus on pond habitats as that is what this lesson focuses on. These students would also benefit from being able to locate and explain different energy sources in ecosystems. Using old magazines and creating a collage may also be beneficial when identifying energy sources.

Above Grade Level:

  • These students could take this project one step further by evaluating and analyzing what would change in their garden ecosystem if one of the consumers, producers, or decomposers were no longer in the environment. How would the ecosystem change?

Additional Resources

  • http://art.pppst.com/monet.html (This link/site provides over 10 Powerpoint slideshows from Claude Monet and the Presence of Nature to Impressionism and Claude Monet.)
  • The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt
  • Who Was Claude Monet? by Ann Waldron
  • Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Cristina Bjork
  • Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg

Appendix (See Downloads)

  • Monet Style Ecosystem Painting Rubric
  • Written Reflection Sheet

Credits

Ecosystem Puppet Show

Science, Visual Arts, and Theater

Description

In this project, students will work in small groups to design and construct a habitat using shoe boxes and art materials. These shoe box dioramas will serve as the backdrop and stage for an ecosystem puppet show that students will write and perform. Within each ecosystem, students will create a cast of puppet characters: producers, consumers, decomposers, and an energy source. Then students will bring the puppets to life in a scripted performance! This is an engaging and creative way to bring these ecosystem concepts to life for students.

Learning Targets

“I Can…”

  • Identify and explain the roles of consumers, producers, decomposers, and energy sources
  • Create a habitat that includes all of the different ecosystem roles
  • Develop a script that explains how all of the roles are related to one another

Essential Questions

  • Why are producers an important part of the ecosystem?
  • What happens when you have an increase or decrease of producers in an ecosystem?
  • Why are consumers an important part of the ecosystem?
  • What happens when you have an increase or decrease of consumers in an ecosystem?
  • Why are decomposers an important part of the ecosystem?
  • What happens when you have an increase or decrease of decomposers in an ecosystem?
  • What are examples of energy sources in an ecosystem?
  • What are abiotic factors in an environment?
  • What are biotic factors in an environment?

Curriculum Standards

S4L1. Students will describe the roles of organisms and the flow of energy within an ecosystem

  1. Identify the roles of producers, consumers, and decomposers in a community
  2. Predict effects on a population if some of the plants or animals in the community are scarce or if there are too many

Arts Standards

VA4PR.3 Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes of three-dimensional works of art (ceramics, sculpture, crafts, and mixed-media) using tools and materials in a safe and appropriate manner to develop skills.

  1. Creates 3-D artwork that demonstrates a design concept: open or closed form, proportion, balance, color scheme, and movement

VA4MC.1 Engages in the creative process to generate and visualize ideas.

  1. Creates a series of thumbnail sketches to alter visual images (e.g., magnifying, reducing, repeating, or combining them in unusual ways) to change how they are perceived and interpreted.
  2. Formulates visual ideas by using a variety of resources (e.g., books, magazines, Internet)

TAES4.2 Developing scripts through improvisation and other theatrical methods

  1. Uses the playwriting process: pre-write/pre-play; prepare to write/plan dramatization; write/ dramatize; reflect and edit; re-write/play; publish/perform
  2. Analyzes the elements of a well-written script

TAES4.3 Acting by developing, communicating, and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments

  1. Uses articulation, volume and vocal variety to communicate thoughts, emotions and actions of a character
  2. Collaborates with an ensemble to create theatre
  3. Dramatizes literature and original scripts through various dramatic forms such as story drama, pantomime, process drama, puppetry, improvisation, and readers’ theatre

Content Vocabulary

  • Ecosystem
  • Biotic
  • Abiotic
  • Consumer
  • Producer
  • Decomposer
  • Energy source
  • Habitat
  • Vegetation
  • Landforms

Arts Vocabulary

  • Background/foreground
  • Color/line
  • Emphasis
  • Texture
  • Setting
  • Diorama
  • Stage
  • Upstage/downstage
  • Stage left/stage right
  • Puppet
  • Characters
  • Cast
  • Voice (pitch, volume, tempo)
  • Playwriting
  • Script

Use of Technology

Suggested websites for shared research on Animal Habitats:

Formative Assessment

  • Teacher can make observations for class participation during all of the class discussions.
  • First draft of student-written ecosystem plays
  • Student explanations of habitat design

Summative Assessment

  • Student-written Ecosystem Script
  • Small Group Puppet Performance
  • Diorama of Habitat including ecosystem characters
  • Reflection Questions (see Downloads)

Materials

  • Shoe boxes (include a variety of different dimensions/sizes)
  • Art materials: markers, crayons, paints, colored pencils, paint brushes, glue, scissors
  • Construction paper, tissue paper
  • Suggested additional materials for dioramas: cotton balls, pom-poms, sand, leaves, flowers, vines

Suggestions for puppets:

Activating Strategy (5-10 min)

Research/Brainstorm:

  • Place students in a small groups (of 3-5 students) for this project.
  • Explain that in your groups, students will agree upon a habitat diorama to design and create using art materials and a shoe box.
  • Make sure students know that within their habitat they design, they must envision potential inhabitants including consumers, producers, decomposers, and an energy source.
  • Conduct some shared research (suggested websites listed above) before designing.
  • You can show the class some Examples of Dioramas (see Downloads) before they begin brainstorming together.

Main Activity

Part 1: Research: Students will design and construct their habitat by researching the following things:

  1. What type of vegetation would be found in my habitat?
  2. What sort of water source would be found in my habitat?
  3. What type of landform would be evident?
  4. Where is the energy source in relationship to the vegetation?
  5. What animals might I include? What plants?
  6. What biotic and abiotic factors do we need to include in this habitat?
  7. What should we design in the background, in the distance versus the foreground close up? What do we want to emphasize?

Part 2: Create Habitat & Characters:

  • As a small group, use construction paper to line a shoe box and begin layering the backdrop with different media and textures. Ask students to address all of their research questions as they are constructing their diorama together.
  • Create puppets for each of the different types of roles represented in an ecosystem: producers, consumers, decomposers, and energy source. Make sure your cast includes at least one of each role.

Part 3: Develop Ecosystem Puppet Show Script:

  • As a small group, brainstorm a story that could occur in this particular habitat that would model and explain the ecosystem.
  • Determine which group member is going to play which particular role(s).
  • Create dialogue for your characters in the form of a script.
  • Make sure that the story explains the different roles and how they relate to one another. (Ex: The sun (energy source) is needed to make a plant grow (producer). And the rabbit (consumer) needs the plant to eat and survive/thrive in the ecosystem.)

Part 4: Rehearse & Perform:

  • Students will determine an actor’s voice for each puppet they are operating.
  • Direct students to use pitch, volume and tempo to make vocal choices for their character.
  • Students will rehearse their puppet stories in their small groups.
  • Students will perform their stories to the class (or another visiting class) for peer feedback.
  • Audience members should be directed to identify the various roles in the ecosystem and to clearly see how they work together to thrive in this particular habitat.

Reflective Strategies

Students will answer the following Reflection Questions (see Downloads) using complete sentences:

  • Describe how your particular habitat depicted its ecosystem and the various roles present?
  • Is there a “most important” role in the ecosystem (producer, or consumer, or decomposer, or energy source)? Defend why you think there is or isn’t a most important role.
  • What was most successful about this project? What would you change next time?

Differentiation

Below Grade Level/EL Students:

  • Students would benefit from a template for writing their script. This template can help prompt and guide them along in the playwriting process. Sentence frames may also be effective in the writing.

Above Grade Level:

  • Consider asking your above level students to create a play that not only describes the roles of different organisms in a balanced ecosystem, but perhaps dramatizes a story where for some reason the ecosystem is NOT balanced. How does the imbalance affect the different characters? What dangers are faced by the ecosystem and what possible solutions or precautions should be advised.

Additional Resources

Appendix (See Downloads)

  • Ecosystem Puppet Show Rubric
  • Written Reflection Sheet
  • Examples of Dioramas

Credits

Grade 4: Exploring Ecosystems

Additional Resources

Books

  • The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt
  • Who Was Claude Monet? by Ann Waldron
  • Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Cristina Bjork
  • Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg

Websites

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Grade 4:
Out of This World!

OUT OF THIS WORLD!

Grade 4: Out of This World!

Unit Description

During this unit students will make scientific connections that are out of this world! Students will learn about Earth’s cycle of day and night. They will also use visual arts and theatre to explore why seasons exist and how the tilt of Earth’s axis affects them. Also in this unit, the phases of the moon will be explored along with their sequential order. Students will immerse themselves in sketching and designing a 3D stabile. We will also observe how technology allows scientists to observe and study distant objects in the sky.

Unit Essential Question

How do the Earth and its Moon move?
What can we see in the sky?

Real World Context

Students must be able to recognize and understand how the tilt in the Earth’s axis affects seasonal changes throughout the year. This concept helps us understand why daytime and nighttime exist as well as the passage of time and the four seasons over a course of a 365-day year. Students also gain a firmer understanding of the solar system and our proximity to the sun and the other planets.

Cross-Cutting Interdisciplinary Concepts

Cycles
Cause and Effect
Relationships

Projects

Project 1: Documenting Phases of the Moon
In this project, students will design a field journal illustrating the eight phases of the moon to demonstrate understanding of the phases and cycles of the moon over time.

Project 2: Stabile Model of Earth, Sun and Moon
In this project, students will design and build a stabile model demonstrating the movement of the Moon, Sun and Earth. The Stabile design was first used by artist Alexander Calder. (He invented the mobile and the stabile). His artwork will be explored and used as an inspiration for this project!

Project 3: Seasons on Stage!
Students will create a theatrical representation of the four season cycle demonstrating their understanding of what causes the four seasons. Students will personify the Sun, Earth and the characteristics of each season. They will apply their knowledge by writing a script that explains and models how the earth’s tilt and revolution affects the change in seasons.

Standards

Curriculum Standards

S4E2 Students will model the position and motion of the earth in the solar system.

  1. Explain the day/night cycle of Earth using a model.
  2. Explain the sequence of the phases of the moon.
  3. Demonstrate the revolution of the earth around the earth’s tilt to explain seasonal changes.

ELAGSE4RL5 Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.

ELAGSE4RI3 Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

ELAGSE4RI4 Determine the meaning of general academic language and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

MGSE4.MD.2 Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals, and problems that require expressing measurements given in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Represent measurement quantities using diagrams such as number line diagrams that feature a measurement scale.

MGSE4.OA.5 Generate a number or shape pattern that follows a given rule. Identify apparent features of the pattern that were not explicit in the rule itself. Explain informally why the pattern will continue to develop in this way.

Arts Standards

D4CR1 Demonstrates and understanding of creative and choreographic principles, processes, and structures.

D5FD.3 Recognizes the anatomical and kinesiology concepts in movement.

  1. Understands, explores, and sequences clear movements of body parts, body halves, and the body in planes in space.

D5FD.4 Understands and applies music concepts to dance.

D5CR.2 Demonstrates an understanding dance as a way to communicate meaning.

M4GM.10 Moving, alone and with others, to a varied repertoire of music.

  1. Perform choreographed and non-choreographed movements.

TAES4.7 Integrating various art forms other content areas, and life experiences to create theater.

VA4MC1 Engages in the creative process to generate and visualize ideas.

VA4PR.1 Creates artworks based on personal experience and selective themes.

VA4PR.3 Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes of three-dimensional works of art (ceramics, sculpture, crafts, and mixed-media) using tools and materials in a safe and appropriate manner to develop skills.

Summative Assessment Tools

  • Pre/Post Test
  • Documenting Phases of the Moon Rubric
  • Stabile Model of Earth, Sun and Moon Rubric
  • Seasons on Stage Rubric

Appendix (See Addition Resources)

  • Pre/Post Test

Credits

U.S. Department of Education
Arts in Education--Model Development and Dissemination Grants Program
Cherokee County (GA) School District and ArtsNow, Inc.
Ideas contributed and edited by:
Pam Lehman, Lisa McEachern, Cheryl McFarland, Shannon Green, Susie Spear Purcell, Jessica Espinoza

Documenting Phases of the Moon

Science and Visual Arts

Description

In this project, students will design a field journal illustrating the eight phases of the moon to demonstrate understanding of the phases and cycles of the moon over time.

Learning Targets

“I Can…”

  • Illustrate the phases of the moon for one month
  • Describe how the phases of the moon change over the duration of one month

Essential Questions

  • How do phases of the moon depend on relative positions of the sun, moon and earth?
  • How can drawing be used to better understand the phases of the moon?

Curriculum Standards

S4E2 Students will model the position and motion of the earth in the solar system and will explain the role of relative position and motion in determining sequence of the phases of the moon.

  1. Explain the sequence of the phases of the moon.

Arts Standards

VA4MC1 Engages in the creative process to generate and visualize ideas.

VA4PR.1 Creates artworks based on personal experience and selective themes.

Content Vocabulary

  • Phase
  • Cycle
  • Orbit
  • Waxing
  • Waning
  • Gravity
  • Tides
  • Full moon
  • Quarter moon
  • Crescent
  • Illuminate
  • Fractions
  • Data collection

Arts Vocabulary

  • Line: An element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. It may be two dimensional, like a pencil mark on a paper or it may be three dimensional (wire) or implied (the edge of a shape or form) often it is a outline, contour or silhouette.
  • Shape: An enclosed space defined by other elements of art. (Shapes may take on the appearance 2 or 3 objects).
  • Form: An element of art that is three-dimensional and encloses volume (cubes, spheres, and cylinders are examples of various forms).
  • Sphere: A round solid figure, or its surface, with every point on its surface equidistant from its center.
  • Value: This describes the lightness or darkness of a color. Value is needed to express volume.
  • Drawing: A picture or diagram made with a pencil, pen, or crayon rather than paint, especially one drawn in monochrome.
  • Illustration: A picture illustrating a book, newspaper, etc.
  • Bookbinding: The process of physically assembling a book from an ordered stack of paper sheets that are folded together into sections or sometimes left as a stack of individual sheets. The stack is then bound together along one edge by either sewing with thread through the folds or by a layer of flexible adhesive.

Technology Integration

Formative Assessment

  • Assess the calendar weekly using a sentence frame: “This week I observed…”

Summative Assessment

  • Pre/Post-Test (before and after unit)
  • Documenting Phases of the Moon Rubric (See Downloads)

Materials

  • Calendar for data collection; Art pencils H, 2b, 4b, 6b; 1 rubberband per student; hole punch; five pieces of copy paper per student; 1 sheet of cardstock per student; 1 pencil or bamboo skewer per student

Activating Strategy (5-10 min)

Share PBS moon phase video with class https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ5vty8f9Xc. Introduce Sketching pencils. Allow students to experiment with the 4 different pencils. Discuss how the pencils are different. Create a value scale sketch demonstrating the value range of the 4 pencils.

  • Each student will be given a calendar to record moon phase observations for one month.
  • Each student will create a field journal.
  • They will use this journal and their recordings on their calendar to create illustrations depicting the phases of the moon, adding a written description.

Main Activity

PROCESS: In this project each student will be given a calendar to record moon phase observations for one month. Each student will create a field journal. They will use this journal and their recordings on their calendar to create illustrations depicting the phases of the moon, adding a written description.

Part 1:

  • Distribute the moon phase calendar and discuss the process of data collection over the course of a month.

Part 2:

  • Create a field journal by introducing this simple book binding technique. (Books may be pre assembled due to time constraints if necessary.)
  • Materials Needed: 8 ½ x 11 copy paper (4 sheets), 8 ½ x 11 cardstock (1 piece), rubber band, Pencil or bamboo skewer
  • Tools: scissors, hole punch
  • Fold copy paper and cardstock in half horizontally.
  • Stack your folded paper, sandwiching the text paper in between the cardstock creating a book.
  • Punch two holes along the spine of the book – approximately 1/2 inch from the spine edge and 1 inch from the top and bottom (this can vary but making the holes too close to the edges puts them at risk to rip out)
  • Thread the rubber band through the holes and capture the pencil or skewer – this will hold the cover and pages together.
  • Now you have created a field journal!

Part 3:

  • Facilitate a whole group discussion sharing the completed data on the calendars. Highlight the eight phases of the moon and explain the process of illustrating the field journal using the 4 sketching pencils. Explain the difference between the quick sketches collected on the calendars and the illustrations. Explain the difference between a circle (shape) and a sphere (form).

Part 4:

  • Allow students to complete their field journals illustrating the 8 phases of the moon using their knowledge of form and value along with data collected from the direct observations recorded on their calendars.

Reflection Questions

  • How did you use your knowledge of form and value along with data collected from the direct observations to complete the illustrations in your field journal?
  • How do the phases of the moon correlate with the relative position and motion of the earth in the solar system?

Differentiation

Accelerated:

  • These students could research how the moon would look in the different hemispheres (northern vs. southern) and could sketch the moon as it would look in the southern hemisphere.

These students could also compose a musical selection using found sounds that represent the phases of the moon. The sound’s pitch should reflect the size of the moon – such as a full moon would be represented by a deep low sound (like a tuba or bass drum) and a new moon should be represented by a high pitched sound (like a piccolo). Remedial/EL Students:

  • Assist students with vocabulary and sketching by conferencing often throughout the project.

Appendix (See Downloads)

  • Documenting Phases of the Moon Rubric

Credits

Making a Stabile of the Moon, Sun & Earth

Mathematics, Science, and Visual Arts

Description

In this project, students will design and build a stabile model demonstrating the movement of the Moon, Sun and Earth. The Stabile design was first used by artist Alexander Calder. (He invented the mobile and the stabile). His artwork will be explored and used as an inspiration for this project!

Learning Targets

“I Can…”

  • Design and construct a stabile model of the Sun, Moon and Earth
  • Explain the day and night cycle of the earth using the stabile model
  • Write a detailed description of the day to night cycle

Essential Questions

  • How can a stabile model the relationship between Earth and its moon?
  • What is the cyclical process that results in day and night?

Curriculum Standards

S4E2a Explain the day/night cycle of Earth using a model.

  1. Explain the sequence of the phases of the moon.
  2. Demonstrate the revolution of the earth around the earth’s tilt to explain seasonal changes.
  3. Demonstrate the relative size and order from the sun of the planets in the solar system.

ELAGSE4RI3 Explain events, procedures, ideas or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

MGSE4.MD.2 Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals, and problems that require expressing measurements given in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Represent measurement quantities using diagrams such as number line diagrams that feature a measurement scale.

Arts Standards

VA4PR.3 Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes of three-dimensional works of art (ceramics, sculpture, crafts, and mixed-media) using tools and materials in a safe and appropriate manner to develop skills.

Content Vocabulary

  • Planet
  • Solar system
  • Crater
  • Axis
  • Rotation
  • Orbit
  • Revolution
  • Satellite
  • Tide
  • Phase
  • Telescope
  • Astronaut
  • Cycle
  • Proportion
  • Scale
  • Rates of change
  • Orientation
  • Scale Model
  • Informational text
  • Topic sentence
  • Main idea
  • Key details
  • Support
  • Site example
  • Summary
  • Cause/effect

Arts Vocabulary

  • Stabile: a freestanding abstract sculpture or structure, typically of wire or sheet metal, in the style of a mobile but rigid and stationary
  • Sculpture in the round: a three-dimensional art piece that is freestanding and is meant to be viewed from all sides
  • Balance: refers to the ways in which the elements of visual art (lines, shapes, colors, textures, etc.) of a piece are arranged
  • Aluminum armature wire: heavy, dark aluminium wire which is stiff, but can be bent and twisted into shape without much difficulty
  • Primary colors: any of a group of colors from which all other colors can be obtained by mixing. Primary colors consist of red, yellow, and blue
  • Color mixing: mixing together a number of colors to create new colors or shades
  • Shade/tint: the darkness or coolness of a color

Technology Integration

Formative Assessment

  • Monitoring progress on designing and constructing the stabile
  • Assess the calendar weekly using a sentence frame: “This week I observed…”

Summative Assessment

  • Pre/Post-Test (beginning and end of unit)
  • Stabile model will be assessed based on completion and the student’s ability to write a detailed explanation of day and night cycle using the rubric.

Materials

  • 12 gauge armature wire, 3 sizes of Styrofoam balls, foam brushes, Tempera paint (primary colors and black and white), matchbox car

Activating Strategy (5-10 min)

Introduce the work of Alexander Calder using this site: http://the189.com/sculpture/mobiles-stabiles-and-sculptur

Teacher can show an example of a completed Stabile using this site: https://www.brainpop.com/science/space/moon/

Main Activity

PROCESS: In this project each student will be given a calendar to record moon phase observations for one month. Each student will create a field journal. They will use this journal and their recordings on their calendar to create illustrations depicting the phases of the moon, adding a written description.

Part 1:

  • Facilitate a whole group discussion of how day and night happen.
  • Discuss the relationship between the Earth, Moon and Sun including relative proportion, size and distance.
  • Discuss scale models and use a matchbox car as an example because it is 1/64 the size of the real car it represents (real world example). Explain that this is why the 3 Styrofoam balls need to be different sizes. Ask which ball would represent each element.
  • Discuss the process of creating a model out of armature wire and styrofoam balls.
  • Discuss the role of color in the sculpture and review color mixing.

Part 2:

  • Students will build the three dimensional stabile of the Earth, Moon and Sun using wire, paint and Styrofoam balls.
  • Determine which ball will represent each element.
  • Paint each ball to represent the Sun, Moon and Earth making thoughtful color choices and allow to fully dry.
  • Build the structure using the armature wire adding the Styrofoam balls to represent the relationship between the elements.

Part 3:

  • Students will complete informational writing piece answering the following question: Should the Sun cease to exist, what is your predicted outcome for the Earth and the Moon?

Reflection Questions

  • How did this project help you understand the relationship between Earth and the Moon?
  • What was most challenging about creating your stabile?
  • If you could do this project again, what would you do differently?
  • Does your writing demonstrate understanding of the day/night cycle? (Conduct a peer review of each other’s writing before asking this question.)

Differentiation

Accelerated:

  • These students could create a virtual stabile for the Earth, Sun, Moon and the eight phases of the moon. Students can use Prezi to create the virtual model. With each segment students must write an explanation of each process. Students will then present their Prezi’s in class. A three-point rubric will be used to assess the presentation.
  • These students could write a script that could be used by a tour guide of an exhibit that demonstrates the day and night cycle caused by the revolution of the Earth around the sun. The script should include statements referencing the stabile that was created for class addressing the standards.
  • These students could write a song that describes the movement of the Moon, Sun, and Earth. The pitch of the music could change relative to the size of the object (for example – the Sun is the largest, so it would be represented by the lowest pitch since bigger instruments make lower sounds).
  • These students could research how the days would be different on different planets in the solar system (longer/shorter) and write an informational essay to compare and contrast the day/night cycle of Earth vs. another planet.

Remedial/EL Students:

  • These students will create a stabile using the provided materials. However, with teacher assistance, students will work in a group to complete a Circle Map discussing Rotation.

Additional Resources

Appendix (See Downloads)

  • Making a Stabile of the Moon, Sun and Earth Rubric

Credits

Seasons on Stage!

Mathematics, Science, English Language Arts, Music, and Dance

Description

Students will create a theatrical representation of the four season cycle demonstrating their understanding of what causes the four seasons. Students will personify the Sun, Earth and the characteristics of each season. They will apply their knowledge by writing a script that explains and models how the earth’s tilt and revolution affects the change in seasons.

Learning Targets

“I Can…”

  • Create a script that models how the tilt and rotation of Earth affect our seasonal changes
  • Become a character in a play about seasons
  • Create dialogue that personifies the Earth, Sun, and four seasons
  • Describe how the rotation and tilt of the earth affect seasons

Essential Questions

  • How can we use theatre to depict the Earth’s tilt and rotation and how they impact seasonal changes?
  • What is the relative effect of the Earth’s gravitational pull and the Sun’s virtual position in regards to our seasonal changes?

Curriculum Standards

S4E2. Students will model the position and motion of the earth in the solar system.

  1. Demonstrate the revolution of the earth around the sun and the earth’s tilt to explain the seasonal changes.

ELAGSE4RL5 Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.

ELAGSE4RI3 Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

ELAGSE4RI4 Determine the meaning of general academic language and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

MGSE4.OA.5 Generate a number or shape pattern that follows a given rule. Identify apparent features of the pattern that were not explicit in the rule itself. Explain informally why the pattern will continue to develop in this way.

Arts Standards

D5FD.3 Recognizes the anatomical and kinesiology concepts in movement.

  1. Understands, explores, and sequences clear movements of body parts, body halves, and the body in planes in space.

D5FD.4 Understands and applies music concepts to dance.

D5CR.2 Demonstrates an understanding dance as a way to communicate meaning.

M4GM.10 Moving, alone and with others, to a varied repertoire of music.

  1. Perform choreographed and non-choreographed movements.

Content Vocabulary

  • Cycle
  • motion orbit
  • Rotate
  • Revolve
  • Position
  • Traits
  • Temperature
  • Order
  • Rates of change
  • Angle (axis angle)
  • Properties (of a season)
  • Orientation
  • Informational text
  • Topic sentence
  • Main idea
  • Key details
  • Summary
  • Cause/effect

Arts Vocabulary

  • Locomotor: movement that travels through space; examples of locomotor movements: walk, skip, jog, leap, slide, run, hop, gallop, glide
  • Nonlocomotor: stationary movement that does not travel through space; examples of non-locomotor movements: float, melt, push, reach, kick, pull, bend, sink, turn, wiggle, rise, swing, burst, twist, flick, dab, slash, punch
  • Soundscaping: sound effects
  • Tempo: the speed of the beat
  • Dynamics: refers to loud and soft sounds; volume
  • Pianissimo: very quiet
  • Piano: quiet
  • Mezzo piano: medium quiet
  • Mezzo forte: medium loud
  • Forte: loud
  • Fortissimo: very loud
  • Crescendo: gradually get louder
  • Decrescendo: gradually get quieter
  • Largo: very slow and broad
  • Adagio: slowly
  • Andante: walking speed
  • Moderato: medium speed
  • Adagio: fast
  • Presto: very fast
  • Vivace: very, very fast
  • Ritardando: gradually slow down

Technology Integration

  • Consider encouraging students to select a playlist for underscoring their dramatization. Direct them to consider how the music may change for each season. The process of selecting a playlist can be done using various music apps.

Formative Assessment

  • Monitor students working in groups
  • Feedback during the rehearsal process
  • Student questioning

Summative Assessment

  • Seasons Rubric (see Downloads)

Activating Strategy (5-10 min)

  • Facilitate a class discussion about how the seasons change. Fold a piece of paper in fours and create a storyboard that shows how where we live on Earth is impacted in each season based on our proximity to the Sun.

Main Activity

Part 1: Warm-up Our Bodies and Voices

  • Review the elements of drama, (body language, facial expression, locomotor and non-locomotor movement) and how to use sound for effect (called “soundscaping”). Groups will be given time to experiment these expressions. The teacher can give groups topic ideas for their practice:
    • Example 1: Happiness at a home run hit during a ballgame. How is this expressed by each character in the event: the batter, the people in the stands, the coach?
    • Example 2: Your dog ate your favorite pair of sneakers. Now you have no shoes to go outside and play. How would you show me with your body that you are angry or frustrated?
  • Students work in groups experimenting with how to use drama to explain the cause/effect relationship of the earth rotating around Sun. Guide a discussion with the class so that the students understand that the Sun would use non-locomotor movement, the Earth would use locomotor motion to rotate and revolve around the sun. Students need to consider how they might represent the Earth’s tilt on its axis. Other features they might include characters representing the weather, or characters choosing particular clothing to express the weather during these seasons.

Part 2: Creating a Script

  • Place students in small groups of 3-5 students.
  • Students work together to create a script for their Season Play. The play should consist of various characters: Sun, Earth, a person/place on Earth, and seasonal changes (snow, wind, etc.)
  • Using the rubric as guidance, students will theatrically represent the seasons conceptually in this dramatization by using the literary device personification.

Part 3: Performing the Season Play

  • After each presentation, the class will discuss how the presentation represented how seasons change. They may also include peer feedback, such as adding more specific movement, facial expressions, sounds, etc., to help the presentation be more effective.

Reflection Questions

  • What might you say about your character’s experience through the four seasons? (Include where you are in position to the sun, and how you feel.)
  • What adjectives might you use when you are personifying the Earth during a particular season?
  • What colors/types of music would help with the personification?

Differentiation

Accelerated:

  • These students could write a compare/contrast paragraph about how the seasons would be different and the same in the southern hemisphere.

Remedial/EL Students:

  • Consider doing the playwriting with a guided small group to help with connecting the science concept to the storytelling of the dramatization.

Additional Resources

Appendix (See Downloads)

  • Seasons Rubric

Credits

Grade 4: Out of This World!

Additional Resources

Websites

Virtual Fieldtrips

  • www.eyes.nasa.gov
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