Solar System: Rotating and Revolving

I’m back!

This week, my third graders are learning about the solar system. To kick off this unit, I wanted them to know the difference between how the Earth rotates around it’s axis versus how the Earch revolves around the sun.

To start off, we looked at a globe and learned about the term “axis” and then we learned our first way the Earth moves by ROTATING on it’s axis. I let each student have a turn “rotating” the globe.

To show REVOLVING. I walked around the room while I spun the globe on it’s axis. I let a few students try this too.

We then created this lovely anchor chart to help us remember key details about the two ways the Earth moves.

And then we made this fun little guy using:
black, yellow, green, & blue construction paper
2 brads

On the back of this, I had them label “ROTATING” behind the Earth and “REVOLVING” behind the black bar. Easy enough and it helps them remember the concepts.



  1. Leigh Langton on April 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Love your anchor chart! Going to have to pin that for next year. We just wrapped up space ๐Ÿ™‚ I love teaching high interest units like that! I just finished a blog post about it if you would like to grab a couple more ideas! Thanks!

    The Applicious Teacher

    • Mrs. Dixon on April 17, 2013 at 2:19 am

      Thanks girl! I'm in love with anchor charts right now and they help with reviewing topics!

  2. Sasha Marie on April 15, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    LOVE that craft! Great idea ๐Ÿ™‚

    – Sasha
    The Autism Helper

    • Mrs. Dixon on April 17, 2013 at 2:20 am

      Thanks Sasha! It really helped them understand the whole rotating vs. revolving concept!

  3. Katie P. on April 19, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Love your anchor chart!

    Katie ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Anonymous on July 3, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Nice poster. I tech fifth graders and some still continued to mix up rotate and revolve…poster is a nice visual…with specific facts they need to know!

  5. on January 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I'm going to use this with my fifth graders. We will be covering solar system next. On a side note, I'm intrigued with your title of autism classroom teacher. My 8th grade son is on the spectrum and he's never had an "autism" teacher. Sounds like a wonderful idea!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. John F. Kaucher on February 4, 2014 at 3:15 am

    It is my second day tomorrow and I am totally using this. Thank you

  7. John F. Kaucher on February 4, 2014 at 3:19 am

    It's my second day tomorrow and I'm totally using this

  8. Wendy on June 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Love this … except that the OCD in me cringes that the 'REVOLVE' is going clockwise instead of counter-clockwise.

  9. Connie Meade on January 19, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    Yes, the Revolve is counterclockwise, not clockwise!

  10. Connie Meade on January 19, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Yes, I agree. The earth revolves around the sun counterclockwise, not clockwise! Great chart.

  11. Anonymous on August 14, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Thank you for the anchor chart idea โ˜บ I like your concept

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