Galileo Galilei


The lesson introduces students to Galileo Galilei and his life.  His accomplishments, discoveries, and inventions for astronomy are explored, as well as the influence they had on science.  Initially, Galileo’s idea of the Earth revolving around the Sun was not accepted by many during his lifetime.  Galileo was considered controversial and was thrown his prison for his views.  In addition, Galileo laid the foundation for the scientific method which is used by scientists everywhere.  The lesson may be used in conjunction with a physics lesson.

Galileo Galilei Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Galileo Galilei
  • Hands-on homework activities
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 3-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The lesson introduces students to a scientist who is in present day beloved and well-respected, but who in his own time was reviled and disregarded, Galileo Galilei.  Galileo’s accomplishments, discoveries, and inventions relating to astronomy are explored, as well as the influence they had on present-day science.  When first presented, Galileo’s idea that the Earth revolved around the Sun was considered not just revolutionary but horrifying.  This part of the lesson could provide older students with an opportunity to discuss free speech and the importance of scientific facts.  The lesson also covers Galileo’s foundation for the scientific method which is now used by scientists everywhere.  The lesson can be used in conjunction with a physics lesson.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instructions: 

  1. Ask: Have you ever said something that was 100% true, but no one believed you?  What was it like?
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask:  Would you change what you said if you were threatened with prison?
  3. Allow for responses and discussion. Ask:  Do you know there once was a scientist who was jailed for his beliefs about the Sun and the planets?  Do you know who it was?
  4. Allow for responses and discussion. Also, ask students how the planets move in the solar system. (The planets revolve around the Sun.) Introduce Galileo Galilei, summarize his belief vs. accepted belief at the time.
  5. Distribute Galileo Galilei content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  6. Distribute Activity pages. Read and review the instructions.  Pair students.  Distribute supplies or have supplies available for students to use for Galileo-like experiments.  Books may be used to vary the height of a ramp or plane, string/washers for the pendulums, etc.  Marbles or small balls may be used to roll down the ramp.
  7. Circulate through the room to check for understanding and to assist students when necessary. Once completed, facilitate a class discussion about each experiment.  Allow student pairs to share their results and observations, plus what they have learned.  (Responses will vary.)
  8. Distribute Practice pages. Check and review the students’ responses.  Allow students to share their drawings of the two universe theories.
  9. Distribute the Homework page. Demonstrate how to do the first question.  The next day, check and review the students’ responses.
  10. In closing, ask: Galileo improved the original telescope.  What object in space would you want to see up close using the most powerful telescope in the world?  Why?

Common Core State Standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.2

Class Sessions (45 minutes): at least 2 class sessions.

Additional Resources: 

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Additional information

Grade Level

3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies