Expedition Sun Project Lesson

Last month we flew to the Moon and explored it through art, language, literature song and film. In August we travel to the Sun, which might be a bit farther away in distance, but much closer in our imagination. If a sunny day can make you feel happier, a sunny lesson will definitely make your students feel more energetic in the classroom. Whether you’re in the northern hemisphere, where August and September are the months of beautiful changing sunlight, or in the southern hemisphere, where you’re probably enjoying or expecting even more sunshine, it’s always inspiring to think, talk and learn about the largest star in the sky.

Let’s explore the Sun through projects for young learners, teens and adults. You can do projects based on literature, the visual arts, films and science so every student will have something to talk about.


Double spread from The Thirsty Tree, written by Adrián N. Bravi and illustrated by Valentina Russello. © Helbling Languages

Double spread from The Thirsty Tree, written by Adrián N. Bravi and illustrated by Valentina Russello. © Helbling Languages

1 Essential vocabulary

  • sun – sunny – sunshine
  • go up – go down (sunrise – sunset)
  • bright
  • shine – shiny
  • sunflowers – seeds

2 What colour is the Sun?

Is it yellow? Can you see other colours in it? Learn all the colours of the Sun. Read this short article on the Stanford Solar Centre page to learn about the Sun. Here are some easy facts to remember.

  • The colours of the Sun are not just yellow or orange.
  • It contains all the colours, mixed together.
  • Rainbows are light from the Sun, separated into different colours.
  • What are the colours of the rainbow? (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet)

3 Read stories about the Sun.

There are three stories in the Helbling Young Readers series which feature the Sun.

Sam and the Sunflower Seeds written by Maria Cleary, illustrated by Lorenzo Sabbatini

Sam loves visiting his grandad in the country and playing in the sunflower fields. One day, Sam’s grandad gives Sam some sunflower seeds. Sam plants his seeds and he waters them carefully. But the seeds do not grow. Can Grandad help?

The Sun is Broken written by Andrés Pi Andrea, illustrated by Catty Flores

Today is the little girl’s birthday. She closes her eyes, blows out the candles on her birthday cake and makes a wish. Suddenly lots of strange things start happening but Mum and Dad can’t see them. Can the little girl convince her parents that they are real?

The Thirsty Tree written by Adrián N. Bravi, illustrated by Valentina Russello

It is summer and it is very hot. The tree on top of the hill is very thirsty. Its leaves are brown and there is no water to drink. Then the tree sees Cloudbreak, a little bird.
Can Cloudbreak help the tree to find some water?

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1 Essential vocabulary

  • sun – sunny – sunshine – solar – ray
  • sunflowers
  • bright – golden – luminous
  • shine

2 Have fun with more advanced vocabulary

A) Ask you students to decide if the words in this list are nouns, verbs or adjectives. 

  • glow, blaze / shine /
  • squint / close your eyes slightly, e.g. when you look into the sun /
  • sparkle, glare, gleam, dazzle, glitter, flicker / words to describe light /
  • sunbathe, bask, burn, tan / verbs to describe sunbathing /
  • sun-drenched, sun-kissed / sunny /
  • sun-dried, sun-baked / dry /

B) Learn these phrases and create sentences or a story using them. 

  • everything under the sun
  • golden age
  • your moment in the sun
  • make hay while the sun shines
  • catch the sun

3 Get creative with vocabulary

Use one of the many creative writing ideas in our resource books Writing Stories, Creative Writing or Imagine That! and write poems about the sun using the words in the lists above and your students personal word associations. Check out this blog post to get some ideas:

4 Read stories about the Sun.

Helbling Readers:

Danger in the SunDanger in the Sun written by by Antoinette Moses, illustrated by Cristiano Lissoni

Jake hasn’t seen his archaeologist father for five years, but now he is going to spend his summer holiday with him in Greece. He arrives in Athens airport, but his father is nowhere to be seen. When the local police show little interest in the case Jake decides to investigate his father’s disappearance himself.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The best-loved story of Tom Sawyer and his friends Huck Finn and Joe Harper, as they grow up along the banks of the Mississippi.river. They run away to be pirates and come back in time for their own funerals, they witness a murder and they find treasure. Join them for fun and adventure and some difficult lessons in growing up.

jacksummerJack’s Endless Summer by Martyn Hobbs, illustrated by Lorenzo Sabbatini

It’s summer and it’s too hot to do anything. Jack doesn’t know what to do. He goes to the park, he goes to the pool, he meets his friends. This summer is really boring. Then one evening some boys hurt a hawk. Jack is the only person who can help. Suddenly Jack’s summer isn’t boring any more.

For young adults/adults:

  • The Greek myth of Icarus
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard

5 The Sun: cultural and scientific projects

Tell your students to choose a topic, either cultural (films, mythology, religion) or scientific and create a presentation about the Sun.


When you read the story Sam and the Sunflower Seeds with young learners, focus on the importance of sunshine in the natural world. There is a Play Station Project about sunflowers, and you can learn about planting seeds and growing flowers in the book. Go to the Young Readers website and browse the resources to see the Play Station Projects:

English through Art6 The Sun in visual arts

In the resource book English Through Art you’ll find lots of activities to talk about the Sun. We have collected them here for you.

  • Activity 2.13 / Prediction: Crystal ball by Hania Bociek
  • Activity 5.2 / Birds of a feather by Chris Lima
  • Activity 7.6 / Colour: Colour canasta by Peter Grundy and Kevin Parker

Do you have a favourite story, film or painting about the Sun?
Share it with us!

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