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Sunny Symbols

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Summary

Students will understand the meaning of the Zia Sun symbol on the quarter. Students will investigate and understand the relationships among the Earth, Moon, and Sun, with particular emphasis on the Sun. Students will understand the motions of the Sun; the effects of the Sun on the Earth and the Moon; the relative size, position, age, and makeup of the Sun; and historical contributions in understanding the Sun and our Solar System.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters

Objectives

  • Students will understand the meaning of the Zia Sun symbol on the quarter.
  • Students will investigate and understand the relationships among the Earth, Moon, and Sun, with particular emphasis on the Sun.
  • Students will understand the motions of the Sun; the effects of the Sun on the Earth and the Moon; the relative size, position, age, and makeup of the Sun; and historical contributions in understanding the Sun and our Solar System.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Grades

  • Fourth grade
  • Fifth grade
  • Sixth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Four
Session Length: 45-60 minutes
Total Length: 151-500 minutes

Groupings

  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

  • Rotation
  • Revolution
  • Symbol
  • Solar System
  • American Indians

Terms and Concepts

  • Obverse (front)
  • Reverse (back)
  • Zia Sun symbol

Materials

  • 1 overhead projector (optional)
  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of each of the following:
    • “New Mexico Quarter Reverse” page
    • “Sun Symbols Rubric”
    • “Sunny Facts” worksheet
    • “Sun Symbols Rubric”
  • 1 class map of the United States
  • 1 copy of a text that gives information about symbols. For example:
    • Signs and Symbols of the Sun by Elizabeth Helfman
    • The Bald Eagle (Symbols of America) by Terry Allan Hicks
    • Red, White, Blue, and Uncle Who? The Stories Behind Some of America’s

Preparations

  • Make an overhead transparency (or photocopy) of each of the following:
    • “New Mexico Quarter Reverse” page
    • “Sun Symbols Rubric”
  • Make copies of each of the following:
    • “Sunny Facts” worksheet (1 per student)
    • “Sun Symbols Rubric” (1 per student)
  • Locate a text that gives information about symbols (see examples under “Materi­als”).
  • Locate a text that gives information about the Sun (see examples under “Materi­als”). Locate pages in the text that give information about the Sun as a star and the center of the Solar System.
  • Arrange to use the school computer lab for one session.
  • Bookmark Internet sites that contain information about the Sun.

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/lessonPlans/pdf/307.pdf.

Session 1

  1. Describe the 50 State Quarters® Program for background information, if necessary, using the example of your own state, if available. Then display the transparency or photocopy of the “New Mexico Quarter Reverse” page. Tell the students that the back of a coin is called the reverse, and “obverse” is another name for the front of a coin. Locate New Mexico on a classroom map. Note its position in relation to your school’s location.
  2. With the students, examine the New Mexico quarter design. Have the students identify the design’s images and writing. Focus specifically on the symbol over the map. Identify this symbol as the ancient Sun symbol of the Zia, an American Indian group. Tell the students that there are four groups of rays with four rays in each group because the Zia believed that good things were given in groups of four. For example, there are four directions (north, south, east, and west), four seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter), four parts of the day (morning, noon, evening, and night), and four phases of life (childhood, youth, adulthood, and old age).
  3. Discuss the use of symbols, particularly the use of the Sun as a symbol.
  4. Introduce the text on symbols. Read the text. On a sheet of chart paper, have the students list some symbols they see or use every day or some examples from the text.
  5. Have the students design and draw a symbol to represent themselves, write a para­graph explaining why they chose that symbol, and share it with the class.

Session 2 and 3

  1. Review the use of symbols and the Zia Sun symbol on the coin from the previous session.
  2. Read the section of the selected text that introduces the Sun as a star and the center of our Solar System. Have the students work in pairs to come up with two symbols to represent these two concepts. Have the students draw the symbols on a sheet of paper. Have the students share their symbols with the rest of the class.
  3. Distribute a “Sunny Facts” worksheet to each student. Tell the students they will be working in groups of four and completing some research to find four important facts about the Sun. They need to include one fact from each of the following areas:
    • The Sun’s makeup or characteristics
    • Historical understandings/exploration of the Sun
    • The relationship of the Sun to the Earth
    • One interesting or little-known fact
  4. Display the transparency of the “Sun Symbols Rubric.” Review it with the students.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Allow students to work independently or in pairs.
  • Have symbols already prepared and have students match the fact with the symbol.

Enrichments/Extensions

  • Have students design the symbol using a paint program on the computer.
  • Have students create a brochure for the Sun using the facts they researched.

Use the “Sun Symbols Rubric” to evaluate whether the students have met the lesson objectives.

There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Grade(s): Grades K–4
Standards:

  • Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines
  • Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum

Discipline: Science
Domain: K-4 Content Standards
Cluster: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Grade(s): Grades K–4
Standards:

  • Personal health
  • Characteristics and changes in populations
  • Types of resources
  • Changes in environments
  • Science and technology in local challenges

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Culture and Cultural Diversity
Grade(s): Grades K–4
Standards:

Teachers should:

  • assist learners to understand and apply the concept of culture as an integrated whole that governs the functions and interactions of language, literature, arts, traditions, beliefs, values, and behavior patterns
  • enable learners to analyze and explain how groups, societies, and cultures address human needs and concerns
  • guide learners as they predict how experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference
  • encourage learners to compare and analyze societal patterns for transmitting and preserving culture while adapting to environmental and social change
  • enable learners to assess the importance of cultural unity and diversity within and across groups
  • have learners interpret patterns of behavior as reflecting values and attitudes which contribute to or pose obstacles to cross-cultural understanding
  • guide learners in constructing reasoned judgments about specific cultural responses to persistent human issues
  • have learners explain and apply ideas, theories, and modes of inquiry drawn from anthropology and sociology in the examination of persistent issues and social problems

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Time, Continuity, and Change
Grade(s): Grades K–4
Standards:

Teachers should:

  • assist learners to understand that historical knowledge and the concept of time are socially influenced constructions that lead historians to be selective in the questions they seek to answer and the evidence they use
  • help learners apply key concepts such as time, chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity
  • enable learners to identify and describe significant historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures, including but not limited to, the development of ancient cultures and civilizations, the emergence of religious belief systems, the rise of nation-states, and social, economic, and political revolutions
  • guide learners in using such processes of critical historical inquiry to reconstruct and interpret the past, such as using a variety of sources and checking their credibility, validating and weighing evidence for claims, searching for causality, and distinguishing between events and developments that are significant and those that are inconsequential
  • provide learners with opportunities to investigate, interpret, and analyze multiple historical and contemporary viewpoints within and across cultures related to important events, recurring dilemmas, and persistent issues, while employing empathy, skepticism, and critical judgment; and enable learners to apply ideas, theories, and modes of historical inquiry to analyze historical and contemporary developments, and to inform and evaluate actions concerning public policy issues.

Discipline: Science
Domain: 5-8 Content Standards
Cluster: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Grade(s): Grades K–4
Standards:

  • Personal health
  • Populations, resources, and environments
  • Natural hazards
  • Risks and benefits
  • Science and technology in society

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: 5-8 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Grade(s): Grades K–4
Standards:

  • Students compare multiple purposes for creating works of art
  • Students analyze contemporary and historic meanings in specific artworks through cultural and aesthetic inquiry
  • Students describe and compare a variety of individual responses to their own artworks and to artworks from various eras and cultures

Discipline: Science
Domain: K-4 Content Standards
Cluster: Earth and Space Science
Grade(s): Grades K–4
Standards:

  • Properties of Earth materials
  • Objects in the sky
  • Changes in earth and sky

Discipline: Science
Domain: 5-8 Content Standards
Cluster: Earth and Space Science
Grade(s): Grades K–4
Standards:

  • Structure of the Earth system
  • Earth’s history
  • Earth in the solar system

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: People, Places, and Environment
Grade(s): Grades K–4
Standards:

Teachers should:

  • Enable learners to use, interpret, and distinguish various representations of Earth such as maps, globes, and photographs, and to use appropriate geographic tools
  • Encourage learners to construct, use, and refine maps and mental maps, calculate distance, scale, area, and density, and organize information about people, places, regions, and environments in a spatial context
  • Help learners to locate, distinguish, and describe the relationships among varying regional and global patterns of physical systems such as landforms, climate, and natural resources, and explain changes in the physical systems
  • Guide learners in exploring characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface
  • Have learners describe how people create places that reflect culture, human needs, current values and ideals, and government policies
  • Provide opportunities for learners to examine, interpret, and analyze interactions of human beings and their physical environments, and to observe and analyze social and economic effects of environmental changes, both positive and negative
  • Challenge learners to consider, compare, and evaluate existing uses of resources and land in communities, regions, countries, and the world
  • Direct learners to explore ways in which Earth’s physical features have changed over time, and describe and assess ways historical events have influenced and been influenced by physical and human geographic features

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