Reading and Writing About the Solar System With The Magic School Bus

Train This Lesson


  • Tracing pattern in school bus form
  • Black construction paper
  • Scraps of brightly colored (crimson, orange, yellow) construction paper
  • Copies of Solar System in Maneuverability Song printable
  • The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System book
  • The Magic School Bus website
  • White copy paper
  • Scissors and glue rams
  • Lined paper, pencils

Set Up

  1. Make a sample of school bus launching into the solar system on black paper. Use scraps of colored paper to make rocket flames and other details.
  2. Make copies of poem.
  3. Make School Bus stationery by tracing school bus onto copy paper and making copies.

Lesson Directions

Day 1

Read the The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System aloud. (Suggestion: There’s a lot happening on each page, from sidebars and extra facts to student “reports,” so I generally read through the main text the very first time to acquaint students with the flow of the story. Then I read it again, including a few of the other details in my reading this time around.)

Day Two

Read the book a 2nd time, adding more of the details to this reading. Introduce students to The Magic School Bus website.

Day Three

Have students write about one of their dearest planets.

Step 1: Hold a discussion about the eight planets and make a list with all of the planet names.

Step Two: Talk about students’ individual favorites. Ask students to turn and talk to person next to them about their dearest planet and why they like it. Then have two or three children share their beloved planet with the entire class.

Step Trio: Display students a sample drawing of a school bus rocketing into space on black paper with flames of crimson, orange, and yellow paper trailing behind it.

Step Four: Generate a word bank with students’ help. Pay special attention to powerful verbs: swirl, blast, spin, climb, soar, zoom, propel, etc.

Step Five: Ask students to write about their beloved planet and why they like it. Have students use school bus stationery in order to do so.

Step 6: Then have students cut out and color the school bus, gluing it to black paper.

Step 7: Students should add details with colored paper and crayons.

Other suggestions for writing topics:

  • Compare and contrast two planets. How are the planets similar and different?
  • Write a narrative from an alternative perspective. What if planets could talk? What would they say about one another?
  • Day Four

    Introduce the song.

    Step 1: Sing the “Solar System in Movability” song from the printable.

    Step Two: Repeat the song with two students standing and playing the parts of the sun and the earth.

    Day Five

    Step 1: Using the word bank generated from the previous writing assignment, add extra adjectives to the word list.

    Step Two: Then have students write their own poems. Here are some ideas for poems:

  • Begin with the name of a planet and write lines that consist of “as ___________ as a _____________,” to help students write with similes.
  • Write from the perspective of a planet and have every line begin with “I wish. “.
  • Write a conversation inbetween two neighboring planets.
  • Acrostic poem using the name of a planet.
  • Group poem you write together as a class.
  • Step Three: Permit 25 minutes for writing and Ten minutes for sharing.

    Supporting All Learners

    Among the difficult concepts for children (and adults) to takeaway from this lesson are the immense distances and tremendous sizes of the planets. The idea that the earth is 93 million miles from the sun, for example, or 1 million earths will fit inwards the sun! Another concept that’s difficult is that some planets are composed of gases. These are fresh, far-fetched ideas for the children and rough to wrap one’s mind around at any age. For most 2nd graders this will be the very first time they have studied the solar system, so make sure that you have realistic expectations and expect misconceptions. Having a KWL Chart printable and adding to it each day may help students form questions as well as see their freshly acquired skill.

    Lesson Extensions

    Solar System Journal

    By the spring of 2nd grade you’ll have students who want to write more than is assigned. I have a stack of blue exam books for this purpose. I introduce science journals to a few students apart from the class and make journaling seem very special. Soon, classmates are asking for their own journals. I don’t correct journals but I do read and react to them in writing.

    Home Connections

    Weekly Newsletter

    Albeit few parents most likely read my newsletter, I accept that and proceed to write and send it home every Friday. In it, I tell parents what we’ve accomplished during the week, preview upcoming events, and ask for their help in some petite way. While parents are busy with other responsibilities, there are those who want to work with their children at home and I encourage that. I have high expectations of my students and of their parents as well.


    When you think about your instructing, ask yourself these questions. Did I:

  • Listen attentively to students?
  • Clear up misunderstandings about content?
  • Spend sufficient time talking through writing assignments and modeling before asking students to write?
  • Provide a rich bank of words?
  • Encourage original thinking?
  • Provide support for fighting writers?
  • Set aside time for sharing?
  • Lesson Assessment

  • Listen to books?
  • Participate in singing?
  • Make an effort during writing time?
  • Ask for help as needed?
  • Generate original ideas?
  • Share what she wrote?
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