Why do we have day and night?

Activity 1

Watch Disney Pixar’s ‘Day and Night’.

Activity 2

Under the words ‘Day’ and ‘Night’, list activities you can do during the day and activities you can do during the night.

Then, with your teacher, complete an overlapping Venn diagram using these two lists. Why are some activities done: only during the day? only during the night? or during the day and night?

Activity 3

The Sun is the closest star to Earth.  It is a giant ball of burning gas that gives off heat and light. It is unimaginably massive compared to the Earth, but it appears so small because it is so far away. Go outside and see what happens to things as they move further away. What did you notice?

Activity 4

Why do you think we have day and night? At this stage, it doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong. If you don’t know, have a guess or use your imagination. Talk to someone about your ideas and then go off and write what you think.

Activity 5

Thanks to scientists, today we know why we have day and night. However, people thousands of years ago did not.

Listen to “Why There is Day and Night“, a story told by Lynn Moroney. This story was passed down from generation to generation in North America.

Now watch a short animated film that premiered and won Best Animated Film at the New York International Independent Film Festival 2009. It is a fantasy story about why we have day and night.

Activity 6

Study the models below and discuss with your classmates what you think a model is.

Activity 7

 (printable Word document)

Working with a partner or in a small group, design and construct a model to show why we have day and night.


1. The model must be three-dimensional (3D)

2. The model must have a moving part

3. The model must be attractively presented and labelled

4. An explanation, written individually by each member, must accompany your model.

5. Each member must be actively involved throughout the process.

These are the steps your group must follow in order to complete this task:

1. What do you think you know about the topic and what wonderings do you have. Write these on post-it notes, using a different post-it for each idea you have. Place them on your groups RAN chart.

2. Use FUSE, the sample explanation, and the links below to learn why we have day and night. Use your RAN chart to add ‘New Facts’. When it is appropriate, move your ‘What I think I know’ post-its to ‘Yes, I was right!’ or ‘Misconceptions’


Sample Explanation

Read the explanation below. What do you notice about its structure?

Why do we have day and night?

Day is the time when the sun makes it light outside. Night is when it is dark.

We have day and night because Earth rotates (spins) on its axis. This axis is an imaginary line drawn through the centre of the planet from the North Pole to the South Pole. At any given time, half of Earth’s surface is lit and other half is in shadow. The half facing towards the sun experiences day, while the half facing away from the sun experiences night.

While the sun appears to move across the sky during the day, it is actually Earth’s movement in space that gives us day and night.

(Diagrams can support your explanation. What is this diagram missing?)


Study these animations to learn more about why we have day and night.

3. Produce a labelled sketch of your model and a list of all the resources you will need. This needs to include the materials you will use, any tools you will need, the adhesives you will use to put it together, and what you will use to attractively present and label your model. If your labelled sketch and list of resources don’t include it, you CANNOT use it!

4. List the basic steps your group will need to take to make the model you have designed. This must make mention of all the tools and equipment that you will need.

5. Construct your model.

6. Present your model to the class, who will use the yellow and black Thinking Hats to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your model.

7. Using the yellow and black Thinking Hats, list the strengths and weaknesses of your model? Using the green Thinking Hat, list how you would or could improve your model if you were to construct another one.

8. Each member in your group needs to individually describe and evaluate their contribution.

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