Sunrise and Sunset


The lesson introduces students to the basic differences between sunrise and sunset, including why the surrounding sky or sun may be different colors.  Many students may believe the “sun is moving” in the sky as it rises and sets, but will be made aware of the earth’s movements.  Using a variety of videos is highly recommended to show sunsets and sunrises.  In addition, an activity using a flashlight and globe or other hands-on activity to demonstrate a sunset and sunrise would be helpful to students.

Sunrise and Sunset Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Sunrise and Sunset
  • Hands-on homework activities
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 1-3 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The lesson introduces students to the basic differences between sunrise and sunset, including why the surrounding sky or sun may be different colors. The lesson explains that the Earth is moving, not the sun. Relevant vocabulary, such as twilight, dawn, and dusk is defined. The lesson briefly discusses how the time of sunrise and sunset can be predicted. The lesson may be used in conjunction with other lessons related to the Earth’s movements.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instructions:   

  1. Ask students to name what takes place every morning, and then name the opposite of what happens every evening.
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. Some students may guess waking/sleeping, light/dark, etc.  If necessary, give a hint and tell students it is related to the Sun.
  3. Allow for further responses and discussion. Ask students if they know what causes sunrises and sunsets.
  4. Allow for responses and discussion. Introduce Sunrise and Sunset to the class.
  5. Distribute Sunrise and Sunset content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  If possible, take students outdoors to note the “movement” of the Sun across the sky, identifying East and West, the places where the Sun will rise and set each day.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  6. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Pair students.  Remind students to work together on both posters.  They may use the content pages for help and include as much as possible about the Sunset and the Sunrise.  You may allow students to use images from the Internet or other sources instead of drawings.
  7. Once completed, students share with another pair and discuss the posters. Display the posters prominently.
  8. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
  9. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.  Allow students to read their poems.
  10. In closing, ask students: Would you rather watch a beautiful sunrise or a beautiful sunset? Why?

Common Core State Standards:  

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.7,

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.7

Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions

Additional Resources:

Want more science resources? Check out our other Science Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade