Sun, Seasons, and Weather Lesson
This is part 1 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Weather. Conduct experiments and demonstrations on how the sun, soil, and water affect the seasons and weather, dramatize the Earth's revolutions around the sun, and more! My lessons are geared toward 2nd-3rd grade level children and their siblings. These are lessons I created to do with a weekly homeschool co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 14 children between the ages of 1-13. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, family, after school program, camp, or co-op!
Soil, Water, and Temperatures
1. Stretch. Pray. Discuss Genesis 1:14. Ask children, "How does God cause the seasons and weather to change?"
2. On a white board or on a large sheet of paper create a lab board to record what we learn. Write: "Experiment 1: Soil vs. Water" and "Experiment 2: Up vs. Down."
PERSON 1: YOU WILL NEED: whiteboard and marker or large sheet of paper and marker
3. Set up Experiment 1:
- Get 4 disposable cups. Fill 2 cups with water and 2 cups with soil. Have the children use thermometers to measure the temperature of the soil and water in the cups. Have a child record the temperatures on the lab board/paper next to where you wrote "Experiment 1."
- a) Have children place 1 cup of soil and 1 cup of water in the refrigerator. Ask the children to make a hypothesis: "What do you think will happen to their temperatures? Which will be colder? Warmer?"
- b) Place 1 cup of soil & 1 cup of water outside in the sun. Ask the children to make a hypothesis: "What do you think will happen to their temperatures? Which will be colder? Warmer?" (Note: If you do this on a cloudy day, place both cups under a bright lamp instead of outdoors. It will only work outdoors on a sunny day.)
Many of my activitity ideas came from this book. It's a great resource!
I got many of the activity ideas for this unit from this book. It has lots of fabulous hands-on activities!
Temperature: Heat Rises
4. Set up Experiment 2: Have children look at 2 thermometers and record the temperatures on them in the lab board/paper next to where you wrote "Experiment 2." Place one thermometer high in the house (like on top of the refrigerator) and one on the ground. Ask the children to make a hypothesis: "What do you think will happen to each of the temperatures of the thermometers? Why?"PERSON 3: YOU WILL NEED: 1 thermometer (& use the thermometer from Experiment 1)
5. Read a book on what causes the seasons: "Sunshine Makes the Seasons."
This is a great factual book with fun illustrations. My children also really enjoyed "Spring, Fall and In Between" by Solveig Russell (which mentions that God controls the seasons) and "A Book of Seasons" by Alice Provensen which has delightful illustrations.
The language is quite factual but it does have decent illustrations and includes simple explanations of all the terms the children need to know.
Station 1: Summer vs. Winter
6. Divide the children into groups of 3-4. They will rotate between Stations 1-3.
a) Station 1: Summer vs. Winter: Place a lamp (without a shade) on a desk. Have one child hold a globe and stand near the light. Point to how the distances are different for light to reach the North and South Poles. Explain that when the Northern Hemisphere is closer to the sun than the Southern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. If you have extra time, let each child come up and hold and/or spin the globe.PERSON 4: YOU WILL NEED: a lamp and a globe
Station 2: Direct vs. Indirect Heat
b) Station 2: Direct vs. Indirect Heat: Place the globe on a table. Let Child #1 hold a flashlight directly toward a sheet of paper. The sheet of paper represents the Earth and the flashlight represents the sun. Have Child #2 draw a circle on the paper around where the light shines. (Direct sunlight = more intense heat). Then have Child #1 shine the flashlight at an angle (indirect sunlight = less intense heat) and have Child #3 trace that ring of light using a different color. Ask: "How are these rings different?" and "Which season is represented by each ring?" (In summer the Earth is positioned so that the sun is high overhead. In the winter the sun strikes the Earth at an angle.) Now pull out the globe and have Child #2 shine the flashlight directly at United States on the globe. Ask, "Is this getting direct sunlight or indirect sunlight?" (Direct). Ask, "Which season is it in the United States?" (Summer.) Have Child #3 shine the flashlight at an angle at United States on the globe. Ask, "Is this getting direct sunlight or indirect sunlight?" (Indirect). Ask, "Which season is it in the United States?" (Winter.) Let children rotate turns if you have extra time. (Note: Our kids enjoyed doing station in the bathroom so they could turn out the lights and see the light from the flashlight more clearly.)PERSON 1: YOU WILL NEED: a flashlight, a globe, a piece of paper, & 2 markers of different colors
Station 3: The Revolving Earth
c) Station 3: Revolving Earth: Seasons occur when the titled Earth revolves around the sun causing the direct rays of the sun to fall in different regions. Using a globe, have the children identify the Northern & Southern Hemispheres, the North & South Poles, and the Axis. Mention how the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are in opposite seasonal patterns. Place a lamp (without a shade) on a small table or chair. The lamp represents the sun. Let each child take a turn carrying the globe in a revolutionary course around the "sun" by following the below 2 steps. Have everyone mention in which season the Earth is during each revolutionary course.
-Stand with your body facing the sun and hold the globe so the North Pole is tilted toward your body. (The Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun = winter)
-Keep your body facing the same direction and walk in a revolutionary course around the sun until your back is toward the sun. (The Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the sun = summer).PERSON 2: YOU WILL NEED: a lamp and a globe
7. Bring everyone together again. Ask the children, "What causes the seasons?"
8. (If you are not limited by time) Read "The Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm: A Book About Weather."
This is a cute, simple story that emphasizes how water, moving air, and heat from the sun create weather conditions.
9. Warm air rises. Check the thermometers (from Experiment 2: Warm Air Rises) on the ground and very high in the room. Note that the one that was placed higher may be 1 or 2 degrees higher in temperature. Ask the children why they think this happened (because heat rises). Have a child record the temperature on the lab board/paper.
10. Have the children use the thermometers to check the temperatures of the cups of water and soil outside. Have one of the children record the temperatures on the lab board/paper. Note that the water is cooler than the soil. Ask, "Why?" (Dark colors absorb more heat.) Ask, "Which surfaces on the earth are dark? (soil, forests) Which are light and shiny? (water, snow, ice)
11. Check the temperatures of the water and soil in the refrigerator. Have one of the children record the temperatures on the lab board/paper. Ask, "What does this show us about water and soil/land and its effect on weather?" (Water cools slowly and land/soil cools quickly. Water heats up very little in the sunlight and cools off very little in the dark. Land heats up a great deal in the sunlight and cools off quickly in the dark.)
12. Act out convection cells.
- Say something like, "We now know that warm air rises and that soil heats up faster than water. How does that affect weather?" It creates convection cells. Have everyone say, "Convection Cells."
- The children are going to pretend to be cool air. Have them start out on their bellies on a blue sheet or towel (which represents water).
- Have them belly crawl toward a lamp (which represents the sun). As they crawl off the water and onto the soil/land, what happens? They (the air) heats up. What happens to warm air? It rises!
- Have the children crawl and then stand up as they get next to the lamp. The warm air has risen.
- Now are you are far away from the land/soil, so you start to cool off. What happens to cool air? It falls down. Have the children "sink" backward from the lamp, first crawling, and then belly crawling backward to their starting position over the "water" (blue sheet or towel).
- Guess what? This cycle starts all over again! Have the children again pretend to be a) cool air that belly crawls across the cool water, b) air that heats up as they belly crawl, crawl, and then stands up as they rise toward the sun, and then c) cool off and go backward, gradually dropping back down to the ground as the air cools again and completes the convection cell cycle.
- Have the children repeat the cycle at least 3-4 times to emphasize that this happens over and over again. The complete circle of moving air creates winds which affect our weather. We'll study a similar cycle (the water cycle) later in the unit.
This has been one of my children's favorite books since they were toddlers. I love it so much I have given away many copies as gifts. This is the book I used to show the season in art. The author shows "Spring" by Monet for spring, "Wheatfield with Reaper" by Van Gogh for summer, "Autumn Leaves" by Millais for autumn, and "The Hunters in the Snow" by Bruegel the Elder for winter.
Four Seasons in Art & Music
13. Look at paintings showing different seasons. Ask children to name what the artist did or used to show what season it was. Ask the child to think of their favorite season. Using watercolors, markers, or colored pencils, have each child draw an outdoor scene showing his/her favorite season. Encourage them to use clues using weather, plants, animal behavior, and/or people's clothing. Paint/color while listening to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons."
PERSON 1: YOU WILL NEED: watercolors, markers, colored pencils, paper, paintings showing seasons, Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," CD player
This wonderful book enhances childrens' understanding of the science of weather and water. The color plates are vivid and the text is clear and thought provoking. The choice of artists is great, offering a variety of styles and periods.
Nice assortment of artists & covers a variety of types of weather.
Snack, Homework, and Review
14. Review of Seasons Snack. Give each child a napkin, a vanilla wafer, and a grape. Have them show you what causes seasons if the green grape represents the Earth and the vanilla wafer represents the sun. The grape (Earth) should rotate around the vanilla wafer (sun). Give each child a few more vanilla wafers and grapes and let them eat them.
PERSON 4: YOU WILL NEED: a box of vanilla wafer cookies, grapes (preferably green) already taken off the stem, 14 napkins
15. Homework: While children eat their snack, pass out weather charts (a grid with 7 boxes and the word "temperature" written at the bottom of each box) to each child. Instruct them to record the weather (either by drawing it or writing it) and the temperature each day that week.
16. 5 Minute Review of what we learned: What causes seasons? What causes weather?
Material List for the Lesson
*Everyone needs to bring per child:
-watercolor paints with paintbrush and a small container to hold water
-markers and/or colored pencils
-paper for child to use to make a painting or drawing
*Items to be assigned to individuals to bring for the entire class:
(Some items are repeated because you will need multiple ones of those items.)
-whiteboard and marker or large sheet of paper and a marker
-at least 1 thermometer (not digital) (needs to read temperatures between 32F and 100F)
-at least 1 thermometer (not digital) (needs to read temperatures between 32F and 100F)
-4 identical disposable Styrofoam cups
-2 cups of soil
-a working lamp
-a working lamp
-a piece of paper
-2 markers of different colors
-a blue bed sheet or a few blue towels
-newspaper, plastic tablecloth, or other item to cover the table while children paint
-paintings showing seasons (can be from a book)
-Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" CD or uploaded
-CD player or other device to play the music
-a box of vanilla wafer cookies (enough so that each child can have a few)
-grapes (preferably green) already washed and taken off the stem (enough so that each child can have a few)
-1 napkin per child
-1 cup for water per child
-Book: "Sunshine Makes the Seasons"
-Book: "The Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm"
Reason for the Seasons
Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm
Ready for the next lesson?
Make tornadoes and clouds in a bottle, create and use rain gauges, dramatize a storm front, design and eat clouds, race against prevailing winds, and more during this exciting 4 part unit study on weather and meteorology!
- Sun, Seasons, and Weather Lesson - This is part 1 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Meteorology and Weather. Conduct experiments and demonstrations on how the sun, soil, and water affect the seasons and weather, dramatize the Earth's revolutions around the sun, and more!
- Wind and Air Pressure Lesson - This is part 2 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Meteorology and Weather. Make weather vanes and barometers, act out high and low pressure, blow up a balloon and collapse a can using hot water, make and eat prevailing winds, and more!
- Clouds and Precipitation Lesson - This is part 3 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Meteorology and Weather. Make clouds in a bottle, create rain, build rain gauges, form and eat clouds, and more!
- Tornadoes, Hurricanes, and Lightning Lesson - This is part 4 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on Meteorology and Weather. Create tornadoes in a bottle, form a hurricane in a mixing bowl, produce lightning and thunder using pie plates and balloons, and more!
- Weather Unit Presentations and Field Trips - This is the culminating activity for our 4 part hands-on unit on Meteorology and Weather. The children presented art projects, lapbooks, and weather experiments they created or performed during the unit. Afterward we had a weather-themed lunch. Recipes are included. Also included is where we went for field trips during this unit.
Looking for All of My Units and Lessons?
Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies .
Would you like to teach this way every day?
I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful curriculum and was created by moms with active boys!
If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!
© 2011 Shannon