Time and the Rotation of the Earth

Time and the Rotation of the Earth

Background Information

Over many centuries, scientists discovered that the length of daylight is affected both by the rotation of the Earth around the sun and by the spinning of the Earth on its axis, an imaginary line that runs through the Earth between the South Pole and the North Pole.

In the early 1500’s, Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) argued that in fact the Earth operated in a heliocentric (sun-centered) system where the sun is positioned near the center of the universe, and the Earth not only revolves around the sun, but also every 24 hours spins completely around its own axis. At first, Copernicus’ ideas were ridiculed and rejected because they completely upset people’s understanding of the world. Gradually, however, other scientists began to support Copernicus’ ideas. By the 1700’s, most people accepted that the earth rotates around the sun, not the other way around.

The rotation of the earth and where a person lives in the world shape how the person lives. These factors are important in the study of history because where people live or move affects everything they do. The rotation of the Earth around the sun also makes certain things happen at the same timesaver the year.

These events can be shown on a timeline, a straight line representing events during a certain period, in chronological order, from beginning to end, in order they took place.

Activity 1: How the Earth’s Rotation Affects Local Lives

Purpose: To understand how the rotation of the Earth around the su affects local conditions


  • Model or illustration of the Earth and other planets rotating around the sun
  • Globe
  • Large poster living all the months of the year in a straight line
  • World History Journals and pencils


Mot Montessori teachers present this concept in Year 4

Announce that the students will have an opportunity to see how the Earth’s rotation affects their lives and the lives of other people.

Looking at the model, review how the Earth rotates around the sun, and hw that rotation creates day and might and seasons at different times in different parts of the world. Put the model aside.

Locate on the globe where the students live. Invite the students to describe briefly their locations distance from the equator, presence of mountains or bodies of water, and type of land and vegetation. Discuss what conditions are life today in the students’ part of the world: Hot? Cold? Raining? Snowing? Foggy? Long periods of daylight? Short periods of daylight? Put the globe aside.

Review what a timeline is. Introduce the poster as a way of showing a timeline for the year. Invite the students to identify days, months, and seasons on the calendar.

Ask the students to identify the current month and day, then talk about what their lives are like that day. For example, in northern locations on a January day, the students might talk about tuning the heat up inside, putting on extra clothing to wear outside, shoveling snow to make a path to the playground, and drinking hot chocolate to warm up afterward.

Ask the students to use their journals to create and illustrate a timeline of a typical year locally, showing how seasonal changes in climate and length of daylight affect what they eat and wear, whether they go to school or are on summer holiday.


Create and illustrate a detailed timeline of a typical year locally, showing for each month where changes in climate and length of daylight change the life of someone else in the area, such as a farmer.

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?