Lesson 1
Mission Reports on the Planets

  • Students will identify each of the nine planets.
  • Students will work with partners to find information about planets.
  • Students will record planet information in their mission reports.
  • Students will identify tasks astronauts perform in space.
Time Required:
  • 2-one hour sessions
  • Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Pluto, Uranus, Venus, Mercury, Neptune, astronauts
  • chart paper or chalkboard
  • marker or chalk
  • clipboards
  • writing paper
  • pencils
  • Golden Book Encyclopedia CD-Rom or any other Encyclopedia CD-Rom
  • Mission Report Form
  • Computer with Internet
  • NASA a great source of information for teachers and students


  • Begin a K-W-L  (What I Know..., What I Want to Know..., What I Have Learned...) on chart paper with the class. 
  • Students can also use a K-W-L Template that teacher has created in advance and type in data.
  • Teacher will read the story Space At Your Fingertips, by Judy Nayer ( McClanahan Book Company. 1993).  In this story, basic information about the planets and the sun is described; a similar book about the planets can be substituted.
  • Using chart paper or the board, brainstorm with students about the types of work astronauts do and record student responses. 
  • Teacher will explain to students that astronauts fill out mission reports about their work.  These reports are used to record observations and results of experiments conducted during the mission so others can learn about space.
  • Tell students they will be pretending to be astronauts.  Their assignment is to travel through space, observe planets, and record what they discover.  Students will use the Golden Book Encyclopedia CD-Rom to travel through space and find information to fill out their mission reports.  Students will need to record the name of each planet, the planet’s size the number of moons, and the way the planet looks.
  • Students will begin a computer-generated Space Journal where they will make daily entries and add clip art and graphics about what they have learned
  • Distribute clipboards with a Mission Report.  Students will work in pairs using the Golden Book Encyclopedia articles to complete the mission report.
  • Ask different pairs of students to refer to their mission reports and tell what they recorded.  Fill in the class report as students answer.
  • Display the mission report in the classroom for future reference.
  • In their Space Journal, students will write five facts they learned about the planets.
Extension Activity: Space Concentration
  • Students can play Space Concentration.  
    Ahead of time prepare a card with a planet's name on it  and on another card write information about that planet.  
    Have students play in teams of two-four; give students equal amounts of cards. 
    Students look at front of card then turn the cards face down and they have to match the planet's name with its information.
Home Learning:
  • Students will visit the library and research a planet and will prepare an oral report on the planet they choose. This information will later be used as part of a Kid Pix multimedia presentation.

If you do not have access to the Golden Book Encyclopedia CD-Rom, any encyclopedias or Internet encyclopedias such as Encylopedia.com will work as well.