True or False: Planets Storia Teaching Guide
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
The Scholastic True or False series turns learning about the planets into a fun game that takes young readers on a voyage of discovery into outer space. The compelling true-or-false format delivers key facts about our solar system and beyond.
“Planets are the same as stars. True or False?” The book begins with this basic comparison of planets and stars. The question is posed on a right-hand page and the answer is found by flipping the page. A clear main idea answer is followed by important details plus a bonus fact. The book explains the composition of the planets, their order in the solar system, and the features of each planet, from Mercury to the dwarf planet Pluto. The book ends by leaving young readers to wonder about the hundreds of known planets outside our solar system.
Scholastic True or False #9: Planets provides a perfect introduction to planets and space for early elementary students by opening young minds to the wonders of our universe.
Teaching the Book
This engaging science book captures students’ curiosity with 22 true or false questions about the planets. The answers are fun, easy to understand, and leave students wanting to know more. Use the book to introduce students to the solar system, to teach a main idea and details, and to build academic vocabulary. Activities engage students in learning about astronauts, calculating their own weight on different planets, and creating a true or false game.
Theme Focus: True or False Nonfiction
Comprehension Focus: Main Idea and Details
Language Focus: Words Related to Space
Get Ready to Read
True or False?
Engage students’ interest and prepare them for reading the book by asking the following true or false questions. Tell students to look for the answers as they read the book.
- Astronauts weigh the same on other planets as they do on Earth. (False)
- Mercury is the planet closest to the sun. (True)
- The surface of Earth is mostly land. (True)
- Astronauts have landed on Mars. (False)
- There are no planets beyond our solar system. (False)
Tally and record students’ answers on chart paper or the whiteboard and return to the questions after reading the book.
Preview and Predict
Have students study the cover of Scholastic True of False #9: Planets. Ask them to describe what they see and name any planets that they recognize.
Introduce these words about planets and outer space, explaining that they are special science terms that describe parts of our solar system and the humans who explore it. Ask students to watch for the words as they read and to use the text and photographs to help them understand the words’ meanings. Ask them to record the meaning of the words on the vocabulary cards.
Use Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards and distribute copies to students.
- star (p. 4)
- planet (p. 4)
- telescope (p. 6)
- orbit (p. 8)
- gravity (p. 12)
- astronaut (p. 12)
- moon (p. 24)
- astronomer (p. 34)
Words to Know
Read aloud the following true-of-false statements that use a vocabulary word. Ask students to answer true or false and then define the words using their vocabulary card notes.
- The sun is a star. (True)
- A planet creates its own light. (False)
- An astronomer explores space with a telescope. (True)
- The planets in our solar system orbit the moon. (True)
- Gravity keeps us from flying off into space. (True)
- A moon is larger than the planet it revolves around. (False)
- An astronaut goes into space aboard spaceships. (True)
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read several questions and answers aloud to students, modeling fluency and expression. Encourage students to follow along in their own books. The read-aloud familiarizes students with the text type and builds their listening skills. Ask students what the authors’ purpose is and explain that it is to inform. Point out that the authors make the book entertaining by using true or false questions.
Ask students to read the rest of the book with a partner, taking turns asking the questions and reading the answers. Encourage students to occasionally stop and check their comprehension with each other.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read. Write the question on chart paper or the whiteboard. Would you want to be a space explorer? Why or why not?
Explain to students that each answer on the left-hand page of the book has an important idea called a main idea. This main idea is supported by smaller ideas called details. The details tell us more about the main idea. Identifying main ideas and details helps readers understand what they are reading. Display pages 3 and 4 and read the question and the answer to the students. Then model for students how to identify the main idea and details in the text.
Model: The first sentence on page 4 is the main idea because it tells the most important idea—planets and stars look alike in the sky but they are very different. One detail that supports this main idea is that stars are much bigger than planets.
Use the cards on Resource #2: Main Idea and Details for students to practice identifying main ideas and details. Pass out copies of the cards and have students cut them apart and mix them up. Then ask students to match each detail to the main idea it supports.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
How do you know if a statement about planets is true or false? (Sample answer: By reading it in a book.) Who do you think is an expert on facts about the planets? (Sample answer: An astronomer, an astronaut, a space scientist)
2. Main Idea and Details
Find two details on page 22 that support this main idea: The Earth is covered mostly by water. (Sample answer: Water covers 70% of the Earth’s surface.)
3. Space-Related Words
When you look into the sky on a clear night, what are three things you might see? (Sample answers: Stars, planets, the moon)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
What fact from the book is most surprising?
Do you think we should try to send people to explore outer space? Or do you think we should send robots instead?
What is another book you have read about space? Compare it to Scholastic True or False #9: Planets.
Content Area Connections
Rocket Science 101
Future rocket scientists will have fun visiting the NASA website for its many interactive videos and games, especially Rocket Science 101. Launch a few rockets with the class. The different levels of activities on the site will satisfy both rocket scientists who just want to have fun and those with more serious ambitions.
Challenge students to create a list of compound words that include the word star. Examples include: Stardust, starfish, stargaze, starlight, and starship. Also encourage them to learn words with the root word astro, the Greek word for star. Examples include: Astrophysics, astronomer, astronaut, astrologer, and astrolabe. Ask students to make a concept map with a star in the center to record all their star studded words.
Your Weight on Other Worlds
Help students understand the force of gravity by comparing how much they weigh on Earth to how much they would weigh on other planets. Explain that the gravitational pull between a very large object like Earth and a very small object, like a person, can be easily measured—simply by standing on a scale. Have students calculate how much they would weigh on various other space worlds by visiting the Exploratorium website.
First Man on the Moon
Share with students original footage of the NASA Apollo 11 moon landing. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. His famous words as he stepped onto the surface of the moon were: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Show students this video of one of the most important moments in twentieth-century American history.
Ask students to look through all the planets in the book and decide which one they would most like to visit as an astronaut. Then have them imagine that they are orbiting that planet in their spacecraft. What would they see? What dangers might they encounter? Ask students to write a radio transmission to send back to mission control on Earth. Ask them to include at least three important facts about the planet. Then have them read their messages aloud and make an audio recording.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student an opportunity to answer the big question. Encourage students to support their answers with details and evidence from the text. Would you want to be a space explorer? Why or why not?
True or False Game Cards
Have students apply their knowledge about planets or another science topic by creating True or False Game Cards. They can use the book as a mentor text to write the cards. Duplicate and pass out the Big Activity Resource: True or False Game Cards. Instruct students to write a true or false question on the front of each card and then write the answer on the back. Have students cut out their cards, combine them with other students’ cards, and play the game.
About the Authors
Melvin Berger was born in 1927 and grew up during the Great Depression. He escaped from daily troubles by playing music and reading all the books in the local library. In college he studied electrical engineering and music, then played viola professionally before getting a master’s degree in music education. His first book for children, Science and Music, set the stage for a long career writing fascinating non fiction for young people.
Gilda Berger was born in the New York City borough of the Bronx on June 30, 1935. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from New York’s City College and became a special education teacher. Her many years addressing the special needs of youngsters with learning and physical disabilities have contributed to her success as a writer.
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