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1 — What is in the sky?

The focus of this sequence is to introduce students to the topic Night and day. It seeks to engage students with the topic by building on their natural curiosity and sense of wonder.

Mount Hotham at sunset

Above: Sunset view from Mount Hotham, Victoria, from a photo by
John O’Neil, public domain image, no copyright

Activity 1: Sunset gathering

To engage students in the topic, organise a class sunset barbeque. The focus of the event will be to watch the sunset and to start the students thinking about how the sun apparently moves across the sky. In a build-up to the next activity it will be important to take photos of the event and of the sunset. Where possible, allow students to take the photos. In rural areas it is often possible to identify satellites moving through the sky just after sunset and this may lead to consideration of the Moon and its orbit of the Earth.

If a class barbeque is not possible, another way to engage students would be to have them discuss and describe their own experiences of sunrise and sunset. Encourage students who have photos of these events to bring them in to share with the class. These could be placed on a student word wall. The Scootle resource bank also has photographic images of sunset and sunrise.

Activity 2: What did we see?

Using the photos taken at the sunset event or other photos gathered from the students and other resources, have the students work in pairs to create a digital collage using programs such as Photo Story, PowerPoint or other digital presentation tools. Provide time for each pair to share their presentation with the whole group and to present to the class their impressions and thoughts about sunrise and sunset.

After the students have completed their presentations have them create their own artworks depicting sunrise or sunset. The sunset pictures could focus on the changing colours in the sky and how often at sunset colours seem to sit in layers on the horizon. A consideration to discuss prior to the art lesson is that, depending on where in Australia you live, your experiences of sunset and sunrise will differ. In some parts of Australia, for example, sunset occurs over the ocean but in other parts sunrise occurs over the ocean. Display the artworks, along with the photographs and other images, as part of the establishment of the learning environment – setting the scene for the unit.