Students track the weather throughout the year, reading a thermometer daily and learning how it works.
- Grades: PreK–K
- Unit Plan:
With this lesson I am teaching what a thermometer is and what it does. I want my students to know the basic idea of hot and cold and what that looks like on the thermometer. We will be tracking the change in temperature for the rest of the year.
- Describe the purpose of the thermometer.
- Read a color-coded thermometer.
- Tell whether the thermometer means hot or cold.
- Outdoor thermometer
- Black paper
- Colored circle stickers
- Thermometer Sheet (PDF)
- Red crayons
- Caps, Hats, Socks and Mittens by Louis Borden
Set Up and Prepare
- Put color-coded stickers on the outdoor thermometer. Red at 80-100 degrees, orange at 60-80 degrees, yellow at 40-60 degrees, green at 20-40 degrees and blue at 0-20 degrees.
- Cut black paper into strips and hang one strip in the calendar area. Place extra colored stickers nearby.
- Create a teaching thermometer by printing the Thermometer Sheet (PDF) on cardstock and following the directions provided.
- Print one copy of the Thermometer Sheet (PDF) for each student on regular white paper. The students will create their own thermometers during the lesson. Depending on the skill level of your students, you may want to cut out the thermometer patterns for them ahead of time. Then they will only be responsible for coloring the thermometers during the lesson.
My goals with this lesson is to teach students the basic idea that when there is a lot of red on the thermometer, then it means hot, but when there is not a lot of red, then it means cold. As we track the weather throughout the year they will get daily exposure to reading a thermometer and understanding better how it works.
Step 1: Discuss how we have been talking a lot about winter and how cold it is getting. Show students the outdoor thermometer and tell them that we will be keeping track of how cold it is with this thermometer. Describe how the thermometer tells us the temperature, whether it is hot or cold. Hang the thermometer outside and tell them that we will check it later to see the temperature.
Step 2: Show them the teaching thermometer and talk about what the thermometer looks like when it is warm and when it is cold.
Step 3: Explain that they are going to make their own thermometer to practice reading a thermometer. Model the process for the class.
Step 4: Hand out copies of the Thermometer Sheet (PDF) and have students color the thermometers per the instructions.
Step 5: When the students are finished, collect the thermometers and bring them back to the rug. Show them the thermometer that you hung outside and ask them what "color" it is today (what sticker does the red line touch?). Then record the temperature by putting that color sticker on the black strip of paper you hung at the calendar area.
Ongoing: Add "Temperature Person" to your daily jobs and have a student check the temperature and put the colored sticker on the black strip everyday. I would change the strip with each new month and hang the strips in a long line around the room to show how to temperature has changed during the year. I also would hang the name of the month above each strip (January is mostly blue and green! But look at June! Now we are all orange and red!).
Step 1: Before the lesson, cut slits in the students' thermometer sheets and assemble them.
Step 2: Sit the students at the rug and pass out their thermometers. Have them practice using them by asking them to show you what hot and cold look like. Then have them turn to a partner and practice with each other.
Step 3: Read Caps, Hats, Socks and Mittens by Louis Borden. As you read have the students show on their thermometers what kind of temperature you are describing.
Supporting All Learners
If you live in a climate that does not have a great deal of temperature change, you may want to talk about warm places and cold places instead of warm months and cold months. Show your students a weather website (such as The Weather Channel site) and look at temperatures around the world. Instead of charting the daily temperature, you might want to hang a map and put the colored stickers on the map. Someone can look up a different country each day.
Encourage your students to look at the weather websites at home and watch the weather on the news. You might want them to color in a map of the world with the different temperatures to show their online research.
- Students will learn how to read a thermometer and create a model thermometer
- Students will read an outdoor thermometer all year
- Did the students have enough time to practice with their thermometers?
- Are they able to read the colors of the outdoor thermometer?
- Are they noticing the change in temperature throughout the year?
As your students are responding to the book with their thermometers, observe to see who is confident with the idea and who is not. If you do not think that you are getting a good idea from observation alone, you could have them do a simple project of illustrating a paper folded in half with a warm thermometer on one side and a cold thermometer on the other side.