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Solar System Name Tags for Kids! An ESL/EFL lesson plan for teaching the names of the planets!





 An Introduction Activity for Teaching the Solar Sytem to Elementary School Children




My Class as the Solar Sytem

Solar System Name Tags

Do we give our students English names? That's not an easy question for me to answer because I don't like to, yet I know a lot of very dedicated and experienced teachers who do. I don't like to give students English names because there is sometimes resentment from older students who view the spread of English as a form of cultural imperialism. They argue that they already have a name and there is nothing wrong with the name that they have.

But then again, some students, especially kids, like getting their adopted name. They make it their own. As well, one colleague who was setting off to do summer camps pointed out that she was about to have 90 new students for a 3-week period. She would never see those students afterwards. English nicknames for her were convenient. So we talked briefly about the advantages and disadvantages of giving names.

In the end, we came up with a way to assign names that would be culturally neutral and educational at the same time. We decided to name her class the solar system with a few extra celestial bodies thrown in. This activity is probably more appropriate  for summer and winter camps than semester long courses.

These activities take about an hour and a half in total. To prepare for these activities you should look up the names of the planets in the kids??native language (in an EFL setting) or be able to draw the solar and label the planets (in an ESL setting). Write or draw all the planets on the board. Have students choose which planet they want to be. Write their name beside each planet (or get them to write their own name).

The list of celestial bodies to choose from is as follows:

sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, star, comet, nebula, and galaxy.

Note: Planets are capitalized but sun and moon are not.    


Activity 1: Chain.

Students stand up one at a time and introduce themselves and something they like (perhaps their favorite fruit, sport, season, . . .). The students also have to recall the names and likes of the students who preceded them.  For example:

A: I'm Mars. I like apples.

B: Mars likes apples. I'm Pluto. I like oranges.

C: Mars likes apples. Pluto likes oranges. I'm Galaxy. I like grapes.

D: Mars likes apples. Pluto likes oranges. Galaxy likes grapes. I'm  . . .

Elementary school students do not have as developed memories as middle school students and so they will have troubles with this. You will need to help them a fair amount.

Activity 2: Listen for Your Name.

Teacher calls out planet names at random and the student whose nickname is the name that is called must stand up. For older kids, you can have them stand up and say something like 'Captain Jupiter reporting for duty.' The student then sits down. If the student doesn't hear their 'planetary nickname' then they have to say it 20 times quickly in front of the class. Do this activity until every student is used to hearing his or her name and can respond to it quickly.

Activity 3: Solar System Nametags

Make nametags using the Solar System Nametags printout. The teacher should provide the materials to make nametags. The students have to write their names on the nametags and attach the nametags to their clothes.

Activity 4: Make a Class List

Make a class list of planetary nicknames using the My Class is a Solar System worksheet. Each student, who by now is wearing a nametag, stands up and introduces him or herself.

For example:

A: I'm Mars. My real name is Chris.

As the students hear the introductions, they must write the names of their classmates in the appropriate spot.

Got any other ideas? Send us an email. We would love to hear from you.