Our second grades study Georgia Performance Standards Science “S2E2. Students will investigate the position of sun and moon to show patterns throughout the year. a. Investigate the position of the sun in relation to a fixed object on earth at various times of the day. b. Determine how the shadows change through the day by making a shadow stick or using a sundial. c. Relate the length of the day and night to the change in seasons d. Use observations and charts to record the shape of the moon for a period of time.”
Being an IB (International Baccalaureate) PYP (Primary Years Programme) we add our own touch to the standards. So in addition to the scientific side of investigating the sun and moon, the students are also exploring how different cultures use stories to express their understanding of the sky based on their ideas and beliefs.
I was asked by the 2nd grade chair to bring in my sundial from home. We met outside at the beginning of their library visit time and looked at the sundial; talked a bit about the sun and whether it moved or the earth did; how people kept track of time before watches. I had the students move the sundial until the shadow fell on the correct number. Of course, my sundial has Roman numerals so I wrote the numbers on sticky notes in Arabic and we placed them corresponding to the correct Roman numeral. We had to delay this one week as it was totally cloudy all for several days.
We went inside and I read a book, The Sun and the Lizard by Alma Flora Ada. This bilingual retelling of a folktale set in Mexico tells the story of how the lizard found the sun who had been asleep inside a rock and so the Earth remained dark. After reading the book and checking out their library books, we went back outside and checked to see how the shadow had moved. I had the teacher take a photo of what the sundial looked like at the beginning of the visit so that they could easily compare the two “readings” of the sundial. One teacher used her phone, another used her iPad. The students were consistently amazed that this device could tell time! I left the sundial out through lunchtime in case they wanted to check back later.