Sunrise and Sunset


Sunrise and Sunset explores how and why the sun appears every morning and disappears every night. Students will learn how to distinguish between the two concepts. The worksheets will further reinforce what they learn throughout the lesson.

In the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page, you will find a number of additional suggestions for activities to add or alterations to make to the worksheets. One idea is to track the times of the rising and setting of the sun over the course of a month to see how the times change.

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What our Sunrise and Sunset lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Sunrise and Sunset introduces students to what happens when the sun rises every morning and sets every night. Students will be able to define and distinguish between the two. They will also learn what causes these events to happen. This lesson is for students in 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. This lesson requires colored pencils, scratch paper, and drawing paper.

Options for Lesson

The “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page lists a number of suggestions for ideas and activities you could incorporate into the lesson. A couple ideas relate specifically to the activity portion. Students could work alone or in groups. They could create a single poster for the activity showing the sunrise, sunset, and “movement” of the sun with a single drawing. Another idea is to have students track the sunrise and sunset times for one month and note the changing times. You could also use flashlights and a globe to demonstrate a sunrise and a sunset. One more option is for students to make collages of images showing sunrises and sunsets around the world.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page provides an extra paragraph of information to help guide the lesson and remind you what to focus on. It suggests you watch a variety of videos with the class that show sunrises and sunsets. You could also add an activity using a flashlight and globe to demonstrate how a sunset or sunrise would work. The blank lines on this page are available for you to write out thoughts and ideas you have as you prepare the lesson.


The Sun

The Sunrise and Sunset lesson plan has three content pages. It begins by stating what students already know: the giant yellow ball in the sky is the sun. At any given time throughout each day, the sun is shining bright, and it is day time somewhere. The sun emits heat, provides energy for living things, and can provide solar power for electricity.

Light from the sun shining through our windows is often what wakes us up in the morning. It shines throughout the day as we work and play and do other activities. During the day, it appears to move across the sky and shadows change direction. Soon, the day comes to its end as the sun disappears slowly until it’s dark.

This cycle continues day after day, beginning in the morning with a sunrise and ending in the evening with a sunset. People often enjoy the stunning view of a sunrise or a sunset on the horizon over the ocean or behind the mountain tops.

Sometimes a sunrise and a sunset look the same, but they are certainly different. In addition, the sun does not actually move across the sky at all. Instead, the movement of the earth makes it appear that the sun is moving. Both sunrises and sunsets can be a beautiful sight because of the scattering of light throughout the atmosphere. Scattering causes the different colors we see during a sunrise and sunset.


A sunrise, or sunup, is the moment the sun makes its first appearance over the horizon each morning. On a clear day, a sunrise can be beautiful to watch. On a cloudy day, it’s much more difficult to see the sun rising at all. However, the light from the sun still shines onto the surface of the earth even when we can’t see it happening.

Again, the sun isn’t moving; the earth is. The sun stays in a single position at the center of the solar system. The earth rotates or spins on its axis, which is the imaginary point where the earth spins. To picture this, it’s helpful to think of a spinning basketball on someone’s finger. Where the finger touches the ball is the axis.

The earth makes one complete turn on its axis every 24 hours, and it turns toward the east. This turning toward the east causes a sunrise in the East. In fact, if we stand along the east coast of the United States, we could watch the sun rise as we look out over the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to the moving on its axis, the earth moves around the sun. The movement of the earth during different seasons of the year causes the sun to rise at different times each morning. The time of a sunrise will also depend on a person’s location on the earth. And the time period in the morning when it’s getting lighter but we still can’t see the sun is called twilight.


The opposite of a sunrise is, of course, a sunset, sometimes referred to as sundown. This is when the sun disappears below the horizon because of the rotation and movement of the earth. After the sun has “traveled” across the sky throughout the day, it will begin to get darker as the sun seems to disappear beyond the horizon.

The evening also has the same period of time when the sun is no longer visible but there’s still some light. This is called dusk. If we stood along the west coast of the United States, we could watch the sun set as we look out over the Pacific Ocean. Students will also discover that in some places on the earth, there is no sunrise or sunset at least one day each year. It is either dark or light for 24 straight hours.

In other places, a sunrise may take place very early in the morning and then set later at night, depending on the season of the year and the location. For example, in the U.S. during the summer months, the sun usually sets later and rises earlier in the morning. The daylight hours are longer. However, during winter months, a sunset may be early in the evening, which means less daylight.

The sun may rise at the same time more than one day in a row, but it rarely sets at the same time two days in a row. The earth moves at the same speed on its axis and revolves around the sun once per year. That means the time of sunrises and sunsets can be predicted ahead of time. For example, the sun will rise at 7:20 a.m. and will set at 4:39 p.m. on January 1, 2037, in New York City.


The Sunrise and Sunset lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one will help students solidify their grasp of the material they learned throughout the lesson. You can refer to the classroom procedure guidelines to know when to hand out each worksheet.


Students will work together with a partner to create two posters, one about sunrises and one about sunsets. The worksheet states what the title will be for both. Each poster must include facts and details about either a sunrise or sunset. Students should not just list facts and information. They should be creative and include images or drawings and spread out the facts. The content pages will help provide details for the information portion. Before they start working on the posters, they should sketch a rough draft for each in the boxes on the worksheet or on scratch paper.


The practice worksheet divides into two sections. On the first part, students will rewrite 10 false statements to make them true. The second section requires them to match definitions to the correct terms. The word bank on the right side of the worksheet provides the possible terms to match. There are 10 total terms to match in this section.


Like the practice worksheet, the homework assignment has two sections. The first section requires students to fill in the blanks of 10 statements using the terms in the word bank at the top of the page. For the second section, students will write two poems, one about sunrises and the other about sunsets.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The lesson document provides answer keys for the practice and homework worksheets. All the correct answers are in red to make it easy to compare them to students’ work. Because some of the prompts are objective, there may be some variation in studnets’ responses. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade



State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.3

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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sunrise and sunset

It's a great resource. Comprehensive and easy to use.

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Wonderful Lesson

This is a thorough lesson that had my students engaged as well as hitting all of the learning goals.

Shanna W.


I found it very helpful

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Great help

Used this as a resource to designing a lesson for ESL students for an on-line class - easy to follow, great detail

Megan H.

Great Resource

I needed a resource for home learning since I did not have access to my regular curriculum. The reading was thorough (more like late fourth grade reading level) and I liked the poster idea.