To help students understand how weather can change from season to season.
This lesson is the second in a two-part series on the weather. The study of the weather in these early years is important because it can help students understand that some events in nature have a repeating pattern. It also is important for students to study the earth repeatedly because they take years to acquire the knowledge that they need to complete the picture. The full picture requires the introduction of such concepts as temperature, the water cycle, etc. (Benchmarks for Science Literacy, p. 66.)
Weather 1: Weather Patterns focuses on the phrase in the benchmark: “the weather changes some from day to day.” As stated in the benchmark, some events in nature have a repeating pattern. So, to do this lesson, students already should be familiar with patterns. This lesson requires students to relate what they learn about weather to what they already know about patterns. Students first look at simple patterns in non-weather related phenomena. If students need more practice with patterns, they could do the What's Next? Look for the Patterns worksheet or the Science NetLinks lesson A Matter of Pattern. Then they identify and record several weather parameters to analyze for patterns. Part of the analysis is the construction of simple bar graphs. It is important that students be able to make a graph.
In this lesson, students keep daily records of temperature, precipitation, and wind. They plot their data and look for patterns of ups and downs without getting deeply into the nature of climate.
In Weather 2: What’s the Season?, students focus on the second portion of the benchmark: “things such as temperature and rain (or snow) tend to be high, low, or medium in the same months every year.” Students identify the seasonal patterns in temperature and precipitation.
To engage students for this lesson, start by reviewing their observations and graphs from Weather 1: Weather Patterns. Talk about the students’ observations and summarize what the weather was like during the week of their observations. Ask students if they would have had the same results if they did that lesson at a different time of year.
Further explore the idea of how the weather changes at different times of year by exploring the different seasons with students. Create a large table on butcher paper. Write the four seasons (summer, autumn, winter, spring) across the top and the following words as rows on the left side of the table: months, weather, holidays, and activities.
Write “Seasons in ______________ (name of location you are in)” as a title for the table.
Tell students: "We will now brainstorm some facts about the four seasons." For each season, ask during which months the season occurs and the various holidays (include the dates) that fall in that season. Be sure to include multicultural holidays. Ask students what the weather is like and what activities they like to do during these seasons.
Follow up this discussion with questions like these:
- If you took your observations in September, would you get the same results in July? January? Why or why not?
- What is different about the weather in July compared to January?
- How does the weather in July compare to the weather in October? April?
- What season would it be in each of those months?
- Describe typical weather for winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Accept all responses. Encourage students to explain their answers.
The main activity for this lesson will be to have students think about how the weather changes throughout the year by having them consider how they dress during each season.
Have a collection of dress-up clothes at the front of the room. Tell students that they will have a chance to play dress-up and put on some of the dress-up clothes that you have in the room. You might want to divide students into groups and have some try on warm-weather clothes while others try on the cold-weather clothes. Ask students to guess what season they’re dressing for.
Either during this activity or once this activity is finished, ask these questions:
- What do the winter clothes have in common? (They are all heavy and designed to cover and keep the body warm.)
- What do the summer clothes have in common? (They are all light weight and do not cover as much of the body. They are designed to allow heat to escape.)
- What other things do we do to keep ourselves comfortable in the winter? (We stay indoors, exercise, use heat to keep our homes warm, etc.)
- What other ways do we prepare for cold, snowy weather? (We gather wood, build a fire, turn up the thermostat, put more blankets on the bed, go shopping for winter coats, put snow tires on the car, buy a snow shovel, etc.)
- What other things do we do to keep ourselves comfortable in the summer? (We stay indoors, don’t exercise, seek shade, and go swimming or splash in water from the hose.)
- What other ways do we prepare for hot weather? (We turn up the air conditioner, take blankets off the bed, buy a fan, etc.)
Now, have students describe and or draw a picture of themselves doing an activity that is associated with a season (e.g., sledding, swimming, shoveling) and have others guess what season they’re talking about. Here are some suggested questions:
- What is it about that activity that allows it to be done only in the given season? (For example, sledding requires snow, and it only snows in winter.)
- Could that activity be done at other times of the year? Why/why not? (For example, football could be played in the spring, but usually is played in the fall. This is because of tradition and favorable weather. Fall is usually dryer than spring.)
Finish up this section by asking these questions to get students thinking about the seasons:
- What are some other things that make you think of winter? (Examples could include things like holidays [Christmas, New Year], snow, cold weather, etc.)
- What are some other things that make you think of spring? (Examples could include flowers blooming, lots of rain, warmer weather, etc.)
- What are some other things that make you think of summer? (Examples could include hot weather, picnics, beach, etc.)
- What are some other things that make you think of fall? (Examples could include leaves changing color, leaves falling from trees, cooler weather, etc.)
- How often do seasons occur? (Each season occurs once a year.)
- Do you notice a pattern, or cycle, to the seasons? (Yes. The pattern is winter, spring, summer, fall and the pattern keeps repeating itself.)
Have students create a drawing representing each season including at least three features of each season that are characteristic of the weather for that particular season. Students should use the What’s the Season? student sheet, which is a page with four blocks (one for each season). In each block, students should draw a representation of the season.
Students should cut out the pictures of the four seasons that they drew on their student sheet. They should then share these pictures with a partner (sharing unlabeled pictures). Follow these directions and ask these questions:
- Have students sequence the pictures from hottest to coldest.
- What is it about the picture that shows that the weather is hot? Cold? (Clothing, sunshine, snow, etc.)
- Have students sequence the pictures in order of season.
- What is the order of the seasons? (The order is winter, spring, summer, and fall.)
- What comes after fall? (Winter again. The pattern continues.)
- With the partners working together, have students sequence all eight pictures to show seasons for two years.
You can extend the ideas in this lesson by taking your students through the Science NetLinks lesson series on the sky, which encourages students to observe the daytime and nighttime sky regularly to identify sequences of changes and to look for patterns in these changes. The first lesson in the series is Sky 1: Objects in the Sky.
Why It’s Essential, from Xpeditions, gets students to think about other aspects of seasonal changes that were not discussed here.
From The Weather Dude, the Musical Meteorology site encourages kids to learn about the weather by learning songs about clouds, rain, thunderstorms, etc.