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An Out-of-This-World Crossword Puzzle


  • Science
    --Space Science


  • 3-5

Brief Description

Students visit an interactive Web site to research the planets and Sun in Earth’s solar system, then create original crossword puzzles based on their research. Puzzles can be printed and completed by their peers.


Students will

  • identify the key facts about Earth's solar system's planet and sun.
  • use those facts to create a crossword puzzle.


space, planets, solar system, Sun, Earth

Materials Needed

  • student access to the Internet;
  • index cards (or notebook paper) and pen/pencil;
  • a printer.

Lesson Plan

Make planetary facts fun with this online lesson about Earth's Solar System. The lesson is best used in the middle or beginning of a unit on the planets because it starts students thinking about the planets and focuses on basic comprehension. Before beginning this lesson, students should be comfortable navigating the Internet, and should be able to read a paragraph and identify key points from the text. Finally, this activity takes only two class periods to finish and can be used in classrooms with just one computer.

Begin this lesson by telling students that today they will be the teachers. Explain that their job will be to create a crossword puzzle about Earth's solar system that they can give their classmates. The puzzle clues and answers will be about the planets and the Sun.

Before they begin, be sure students understand that the goal is not to stump their classmates with obscure facts but to test them on the most important facts. You might cite an example of a recent test you gave in which you asked questions about main ideas, not tiny details.

Walk the students through the following steps:

  • Go to Interactive Solar System Facts from Apples4theTeacher. Look at the 10 rockets moving across the screen. Each rocket has the name of a planet or the sun on it. Notice that if you drag your mouse over a rocket, a paragraph about a planet or the sun will appear.
  • Mouse over each rocket and read each paragraph. Write on an index card the name of the planet described and 2-3 facts about that planet (or the sun).
  • When you have read each paragraph and written about the sun and all the planets, show your work to a teacher for approval.
  • Go to Discovery School's Puzzlemaker, click the drop-down menu and select Criss-Cross Puzzle. (This is a crossword puzzle.)
  • At Step 1, type "YourName's Planet Puzzle."
  • Skip Steps 2 and 3.
  • At Step 4, type the word "Sun," hit the spacebar once, and type what you think is the most important fact about the sun. For example, you might write, "The sun gives us the heat and light we need to live."
  • When you are finished with the first clue, type a period, hit Return/Enter, type "Mercury" followed by a space and its clue.
  • Repeat the steps above for each of the planets.
  • Click "Create my puzzle." Now you should see a crossword puzzle with your clues beneath it.
  • Print the page TWO times.
  • On one copy of the puzzle, write the correct answers in the blanks.
  • Give the blank copy of your puzzle to a friend to complete.

Note: These puzzles are NOT saved online; students must print at least one copy of their puzzles.>


Students will be evaluated on

  • their knowledge of the solar system based upon the evidence in their written notes.
  • the creation of a crossword puzzle based on those facts.
  • their time management and interpersonal skills as demonstrated during the activity.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lorrie Jackson

National Standards

NS.K-4.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science