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Activities and Lesson Plans


Related 4th Grade TEKS


4.6 B: Patterns, relationships, and algebraic thinking. The student uses patterns in multiplication and division. The student is expected to: (B) use patterns to multiply by 10 and 100.

4.10: Geometry and spatial reasoning. The student recognizes the connection between numbers and their properties and points on a line. The student is expected to locate and name points on a number line using whole numbers, fractions such as halves and fourths, and decimals such as tenths.

4.13 A, B: Probability and statistics. The student solves problems by collecting, organizing, displaying, and interpreting sets of data. The student is expected to: (A) use concrete objects or pictures to make generalizations about determining all possible combinations of a given set of data or of objects in a problem situation; and (B) interpret bar graphs.

4.14 A, B: Underlying processes and mathematical tools. The student applies Grade 4 mathematics to solve problems connected to everyday experiences and activities in and outside of school. The student is expected to (A) identify the mathematics in everyday situations; (B) solve problems that incorporate understanding the problem, making a plan, carrying out the plan, and evaluating the solution for reasonableness.

Language Arts

4.11 A: Reading/Comprehension of Informational Text/Expository Text. Students analyze, make inferences and draw conclusions about expository text and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to: (A) summarize the main idea and supporting details in text in ways that maintain meaning.

4.19: Writing/Persuasive Texts. Students write persuasive texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. Students are expected to write persuasive essays for appropriate audiences that establish a position and use supporting details.


4.5 A: Matter and energy. The student knows that matter has measurable physical properties and those properties determine how matter is classified, changed, and used. The student is expected to: (A) measure, compare, and contrast physical properties of matter, including size, mass, volume, states (solid, liquid, gas), temperature, magnetism, and the ability to sink or float;

4.6 A, D: Force, motion, and energy. The student knows that energy exists in many forms and can be observed in cycles, patterns, and systems. The student is expected to: (A) differentiate among forms of energy, including mechanical, sound, electrical, light, and heat/thermal; (D) design an experiment to test the effect of force on an object such as a push or a pull, gravity, friction, or magnetism.

4.7 C: Earth and space. The students know that Earth consists of useful resources and its surface is constantly changing. The student is expected to: (C) identify and classify Earth's renewable resources, including air, plants, water, and animals; and nonrenewable resources, including coal, oil, and natural gas; and the importance of conservation.

Social Studies

4.8 C, D: Geography. The student understands the location and patterns of settlement and the geographic factors that influence where people live. The student is expected to: (C) describe the location of cities in Texas and explain their distribution, past and present; and (D) explain the geographic factors that influence patterns of settlement and the distribution of population in Texas, past and present.

4.9 C: Geography. The student understands how people adapt to and modify their environment. The student is expected to: (C) analyze the consequences of human modification of the environment in Texas, past and present.

Discussion Questions
  1. Why are the blackest skies best for doing astronomy? What's light pollution? What causes it?
  2. Where can you find the darkest skies in the continental U.S.? And what is the "continental U.S." anyway?
  3. What's a constellation? How many are there? Name some you can see over Texas and when you'll be able to spot them.
  4. What's the Milky Way and where is it? How many stars does it contain?
  5. What's the difference between the inner and outer planets? Can you name them? Pick one of your favorites and share something cool you learned about it.
  6. What's a meteor and how does it get created? What two cool events can you look forward to watching in our Texas skies every year?
  7. What's a star? How far is our sun from us? What's a light-year and how far is it?
  8. Which two Texas State Parks have observatories close by? Which state park is near the Panhandle? Which one helps you make a star chart? Which one is closest to your house?
  9. CHALLENGE QUESTION: What do you think we could do to help reduce light pollution? Do you think it's important that we do so? Why or why not? Share your thoughts.

It's a Mighty Dusty World!

TEACHERS! THIS ONE'S FOR YOU. Our universe contains plenty of dust. That includes the universes inside our homes, schools, and cars! Use packets of instant oatmeal to help your students understand the importance of this invisible force here on Earth and elsewhere. This activity is brought to you by University of Texas McDonald Observatory.

A Really Rockin' Rock Cycle!

TEACHERS! THIS ONE'S FOR YOU: This wonderful lesson created by University of Texas McDonald Observatory builds on the foundations of what kids have already been taught about the rock cycle and brings them to a world beyond.

You're the Tour Guide

You're a Texas Parks and Wildlife tour guide. Pick a Texas State Park and persuade visitors to come there for super stargazing by creating a travel brochure. Use what you’ve learned to tell folks about all the cool stuff they'll spot in the heavens above. Use facts, but also let your imagination reach for the stars! Don’t forget to tell visitors how to plan their trip including what they'll see in the skies at different times of the year. Make that brochure colorful and your words persuasive! Remember, you want lots of stargazers to come to your state park!

StarDate Radio Shows

Listen to these short radio shows and you’ll learn light-years about two of the best meteor showers that appear over Texas each year. The Perseid episode can be found at: The Leonid one at: Enjoy this award-winning series brought to you by McDonald Observatory.

Become a Super Stargazer

Want to get to know our Texas skies better? One easy way is to spend time just watching them! Wait for a clear and moonless night and then follow the steps below:

  1. Pick a good, dark viewing spot in your yard and put a comfy chair there.
  2. Bring this stuff outside so you don’t have to go back inside and turn lights on to get them:
  • A blanket & jacket on cold nights
  • A flashlight with red cellophane over the end of it (red disturbs your night vision less)
  • Binoculars
  • A simple star chart (or see #5)
  • A journal to keep track of what you see. Notice how the sky changes over time!
  • Turn your porch and house lights off.
  • It'll take your eyes 20 minutes to get used to the dark and then start spotting special stars!
  • This site has a wonderful sky map to tell you what stars will be in your sky tonight:

    Stellar Star Wheel

    A star wheel is a map of the sky shaped like a circle. You can make your very own star wheel so you'll have a map of the night sky. Here’s how: