The Earth’s Atmosphere (SOL 6.10)

SOL: 6.10

The student will investigate and understand the organization of the solar system and the relationships among the various bodies that comprise it. Key concepts include

the, sun, moon, Earth, other planets and their moons, meteors, asteroids, and comets;
relative size of and distance between planets;
the role of gravity;
revolution and rotation;
the mechanics of day and night and phases of the moon;
the relationship of the Earth’s tilt and seasons;
the cause of tides; and
the history and technology of space exploration.


Advance Organizer: Wrap a towel around a round object. Ask the children to offer some ideas about why an object might need a towel wrapped around it.


The student will orally state at least two ways that our atmosphere is like a blanket. The student will answer 5 written questions about the thickness, composition, and effects of the Earth’s atmosphere with 80% accuracy.


The student will behave respectfully as the class watches a DVD. The child will appreciate the beauty of the Earth and its atmosphere. The child will realize how amazing it would be to be the first person in space.


The student will develop fine motor skills while drawing.


The atmosphere contains gases and is “held against” the Earth by gravity. The moon does not have an atmosphere. The atmosphere contains clouds and several different layers. At the south and north poles, there are holes in the ozone layer. Space is the area about 63,000 feet away from the Earth.


DVD about the Earth’s atmosphere

Present advance organizer. Have children brainstorm why something would need a towel wrapped around it.

The students will be directly instructed for about 2 minutes. The teacher will write the names of the two most common gases in the atmosphere (nitrogen and oxygen) on the board. The teacher will complete the analogy between the atmosphere and a blanket. The children will brainstorm ways that the atmosphere is like a blanket.

1. The atmosphere keeps the Earth from losing all of its heat at night.

2. The atmosphere protects us from the sun’s most harmful rays.

3. The atmosphere keeps the air we breathe near the Earth.

?: Why doesn’t the moon have an atmosphere?

A: Because there isn’t enough gravity to hold an atmosphere against the moon.

The students will gather around the computer screen and sit so that all students can see the DVD.

After the DVD, the students will be asked to write a response to this: “If you were in the hot air balloon, traveling through the atmosphere, what would you see? How would you feel?” Ask the children to draw what they write about.

Closure: Allow the students to share their ideas that they wrote about the atmosphere. Ask the children to clean up around their desks and say good-bye.

Assessment: As the children are writing in their journals, interview each child and check off on the class rubric whether he or she can tell how the atmosphere is like a blanket for the Earth.

Later, give a short quiz.

Answer the questions below:

1. Does the moon have an atmosphere? (no)

2. Is the pressure high or low above the Earth’s atmosphere? (very low)

3. Name one gas the Earth’s atmosphere holds. Oxygen or nitrogen (among others)

4. What force holds the Earth’s atmosphere against the Earth? (gravity)

5. Who was the first man in space? (Kittinger)