The Air Up There
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
- Unit Plan:
- Observe and record weather conditions.
- Learn how to determine an average.
- Calculate the average weather temperature over a five-day period.
- A costume or weather gear appropriate for the weather.
- Weather Watcher PDF to display on the board
- Weather Watcher class set
- 20 to 30 cubes for four or five small groups
- Containers to hold the cubes
- Index cards
Set Up and Prepare
- Create a weather costume consisting of clothing that is inappropriate for the current weather in your area. For example, if it's chilly out, wear sunglasses, a beach hat, shorts, and sandals. You'll start the lesson by engaging students with your silly costume!
- Find a source for daily weather conditions and temperatures during the five-day observation period, such as the newspaper or the Web. Or, you may wish to choose five students who will be responsible for sharing the daily weather conditions and temperature with the class over the next five days.
- Prepare separate containers of 20 to 30 cubes for each small group of 4 to 5 students during the averaging activity.
- Make a class set of the Weather Watcher PDF.
Begin the lesson on a Monday so that you have five consecutive days to record weather observations.
Days 1 to 5
Step 1 Dress in your weather costume and props before the students enter the classroom. As they file in, they can react to your costume.
Step 2 Begin the lesson by humorously exaggerating how cold or hot it is outside. Allow students to respond to your interpretation of the weather and correct you. Next, encourage them to talk about the current weather and the weather for the previous week. Ask them to support their observations. Record their vocabulary on the board or chart paper as they discuss the weather outside. Lead them to use the following terms, as appropriate for conditions and grade level: sunny, windy, cloudy, cool, hot, chilly, rainy, snowy, temperature, air pressure, precipitation, meteorologist, humidity, storm front, etc. Accept all reasonable responses.
Step 3 Tell the students that they will become meteorologists over the next several days as they observe the weather conditions. Share the Weather Watcher PDF on the board. Read through the chart. Explain that they will be using this chart to track weather conditions and record the daily temperature for the next five days.
Step 4 Model this process. Distribute the Weather Watcher printable to each student. Ask a student helper to obtain your current climate and temperature from the Web or a newspaper. The helper should then record the information on the Weather Watcher displayed on the board, as students do the same on their copy.
Step 5 Repeat for five days.
Step 6 After all five temperatures have been recorded, write these temperatures on five different index cards.
Wrap Up on Day Five
Step 1 Inform the students that today they will learn how to determine the week's average temperature using the data they collected.
Step 2 Organize the students into small groups and distribute a basket of cubes to each. Emphasize the importance of teamwork and following step-by-step directions as you guide them through the activity.
Step 3: Instruct each group to make two unequal stacks of cubes. They do not have to use all of the cubes.
Step 4 Count the number of cubes in each stack.
Step 5 Combine the two stacks into one big stack.
Step 6 Divide the stack into two smaller stacks that contain the same number in each stack. Count the number in each stack. This number is the mean or the average.
Step 7 Repeat the activity using more than two different stacks of cubes. Check for understanding.
Bonus Activity: Determine the Median
Step 1 Ask students to tell you the lowest recorded temperature. Select a student to hold the index card with that temperature. Next, ask students to tell you the highest temperature recorded. Select a student to hold that card opposite the other student.
Step 2 Explain to students that placing the lowest and highest recorded temperatures at opposite ends will help us determine the median temperature for the week. Distribute the remaining temperatures on index cards in random order to selected students. Have these students stand in ascending order between the lowest and highest temperatures. When they are all in line, check that they are in the correct order.
Step 3: Ask the two students at either end of the line to take two big steps forward. Next, ask those on the ends of the remaining line to step forward. Continue until one student remains. Explain that this is the median temperature.
- Extend the activity by transferring the recorded information to a bar graph
- Read the following poem during the observation period:
by Betsy Franco
all feel it the most
when the temperature goes
to zero degrees
Instruct students to determine the average of one sports team's final scores over the next few weeks.
- Were students able to collect and record weather data?
- Did the students demonstrate a basic understanding of determining average?