Sunlight and Shadow – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards.

Grades K-2 Disciplinary Core Ideas
PS3B: Sunlight warms Earth’s surface. p.125
PS4B: Some materials allow light to pass through them, others allow only some light through, and others block all the light and create a dark shadow on any surface beyond them (i.e., on the other side from the light source), where the light cannot reach. p.134-135
LS1C: All animals need food in order to live and grow. They obtain their food from plants or from other animals. Plants need water and light to live and grow. p.147
LS2A: Animals depend on their surroundings to get what they need, including a favorable temperature. Plants depend on air, water, minerals, and light to grow. p.151
ESS1A: Patterns of the motion of the sun, moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, and predicted. p.174
ESS1B: Seasonal patterns of sunrise and sunset can be observed, described, and predicted. p.176

Grades 3-5 Disciplinary Core Ideas
PS2C: A system can change as it moves in one direction, shifts back and forth, or goes through cyclical patterns (e.g. day and night). p.119
PS3A: Energy can be moved from place to place by moving objects or through sound, light, or electric currents. p.122
PS3B: Light also transfers energy from place to place. For example, energy radiated from the sun is transferred to Earth by light. When this light is absorbed, it warms Earth’s land, air, and water and facilitates plant growth. p.125
PS3D: It is important to be able to concentrate energy so that it is available where & when needed. For example, batteries are transportable energy storage devices. p.129
PS4B: A great deal of light travels through space to Earth from the sun and from distant stars. p.135
LS1C: Animals and plants alike generally need to take in air and water, animals must take in food, and plants need light and minerals. p.148
ESS1B: The orbits of Earth around the sun and of the moon around Earth, together with the rotation of Earth about an axis between its North and South poles, cause observable patterns. These include day and night; daily and seasonal changes in the length and direction of shadows; phases of the moon; and different positions of the sun, moon, and stars at different times of the day, month, and year. p.176

Grades 6-8 Disciplinary Core Ideas
PS2C: A system can be changing but have a stable repeating cycle of changes; such observed regular patterns allow predictions about the system’s future (e.g., Earth orbiting the sun). p.120
PS4B: When light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object’s material & frequency (color) of the light. p.135
LS1C: Plants use the energy from light to make sugars (food) from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water through the process of photosynthesis. p.148
ESS1A: Patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models. p.174
ESS1B: The solar system consists of the sun and a collection of objects, including planets, their moons, and asteroids that are held in orbit around the sun by its gravitational pull on them. Earth’s spin axis is fixed in direction over the short term but tilted relative to its orbit around the sun. The seasons are a result of that tilt and are caused by the differential intensity of sunlight on different areas of Earth across the year. p.176
ESS2A: All Earth processes are the result of energy flowing & matter cycling within & among the planet’s systems. This energy is from the sun & Earth’s hot interior. p.181
ESS2D: Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere absorb and retain the energy radiated from land and ocean surfaces, thereby regulating Earth’s average surface temperature and keeping it habitable. p.188


In addition to science content, activities in this unit also can help students to practice the following mathematics and language arts concepts. The Common Core Standards listed here are in addition to the ones that our activities typically address, as listed in the Four Winds document, The Nature Program: Alignment with Learning Standards.

Grades K-2 Common Core Standards
Mathematics Standard K.MD: Compare 2 objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has more of/less of the attribute, & describe the difference.
Mathematics Standard 2.MD: Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks and measuring tapes.
Mathematics Standard 2.MD: Measure to determine how much longer one object is than another, expressing the length difference in terms of a standard length unit.

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