Fourth grade science: Planets and their characteristics
One of the things your fourth grader will need to accomplish during this year of school is the ability to identify the planets of our solar system and to identify characteristics of each planet. To help your child do this you will want to help them learn the planets in order from the Sun on out. There are several mnemonic devices that will help your student. The most common is, “My Very Earnest Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas”, which of course represents the planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Depending on the age of the science curriculum you are using with your child, Pluto may or may not be included in the planet list. In 2006, astronomers demoted it from planetary status but it is still included in some curriculum that hasn’t been updated. For the purpose of the mnemonic, there is no reason not to include Pluto, as long as your child understands Pluto’s status. Or if you are feeling creative, you could coin a mnemonic that listed the eight planets. Besides the order of the planets, your child should also learn several characteristics of each planet that will help them identify the planet visually, and help group it with other planets of its type, for example, the gas giants. One other thing that will help your child remember order and visual characteristics of the planets is to allow her to build a mobile. If you can find one that has not been painted yet, it is a great way to get a little bit of art while learning science.