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Comets Galore

Get to know comets! Students examine the components of comets and how they orbit the sun. Illustrate a glistening diagram to label each part.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Ask students if they have you ever seen a shooting star in the sky? Where do they come from? Shooting stars are meteors, small grains of dust in the tail of a comet that enters Earth’s atmosphere. Once in our atmosphere they burn up, leaving a streak of light behind them as they fall. When Earth passes through the tail of a comet, many shooting stars can be seen in the sky at once. This event is called a meteor shower!
    2. Comets are large balls of ice and frozen gases hurling through space, sort of like outer space snowballs! They orbit the sun in elliptical patterns and as they get closer to the sun they begin to melt, creating beautiful, bright tails behind them. Some comets melt completely as they age and continue to pass by the sun.
    3. Comets also have an interesting core. At the center of a comet is the nucleus, made of frozen rock, metal and water. The cloud of gases surrounding the nucleus is called the coma.
    4. Have students do research with a partner to find more interesting facts about comets. Are there any famous comets that can be seen from Earth? Students Share their findings with the class.
    5. Students draw and label a detailed picture of a comet on black construction paper. Make a comet sparkle and shine with Crayola® Metallic Colored Pencils, Crayola® Metallic FX Crayons and Crayola® Glitter Crayons. Be creative! Mix and swirl different colors to create new colors and textures.
    6. Embellish the drawing with outer space details like stars and planets!
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade level reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

    LA: Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

    MATH: Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.

    SCI: Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.

    SCI: Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids by Seymour Simon; Destination: Space by Seymour Simon; Asteroid Impact by Douglas Henderson; The Lonely Existence of Asteroids and Comets (Adventures in Science) by Mark Weakland

    Encourage students to create 3-D models, or cross-sections, of their comets using Crayola Model Magic. On the cross-section models, students should include the nucleus, coma, and tail. Prior to the Model Magic drying, students insert a paperclip into the top center of the model and let it air-dry overnight. A ribbon attached to the paperclip will allow the model to be hung from the classroom ceiling.

    Invite students to expand their research to include asteroids and meteors. Compare and contrast these with comets.

    Students may also create 3-D Crayola Model Magic examples of asteroids and meteors to display in the classroom.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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