Building Blocks of Science® A New Generation: Weather and Sky |

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Building Blocks of Science® A New Generation: Weather and Sky

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Grade K. The Weather and Sky Unit Kit includes a Teacher's Guide and enough supplies and apparatus for a class of up to 24 students. In the unit, students observe the sky and weather daily, and predict, observe, compare, and contrast their observations to identify and discuss patterns. Students explore weather features using charts, models, and tools, and formulate their own definitions of and explanations for those phenomena. Students complete a weather-observation project and weather report.

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Grade K. The Weather and Sky unit kit includes a Teacher's Guide and enough supplies and apparatus for a class of up to 24 students. During the unit, students develop a solid foundation for understanding weather and its impact on their daily lives. Students observe the sky and weather daily, and predict, observe, compare, and contrast their observations to identify and discuss patterns. Students explore temperature, wind, precipitation, and cloud cover using charts, models, and measurement tools. Students use what they learn to formulate their own definitions of and explanations for weather-related phenomena. Students look at severe-weather safety, specifically related to tornadoes and floods. The unit culminates with an independent weather-observation project and weather report.

The Weather and Sky unit addresses the following standards:
Next Generation Science Standards
Disciplinary Core Ideas
Weather and Climate
ESS3.A: Natural Resources
ESS3.B: Natural Hazards
PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

Science and Engineering Practices
Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Asking Questions and Defining Problems
Developing and Using Models
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Crosscutting Concepts
Cause and Effect
Systems and System Models

Common Core State Standards
Language Arts

L.K.5 a, c

American Association for the Advancement of Science Benchmarks
The Nature of Technology: Issues in Technology

  • People, alone or in groups, are always inventing new ways to solve problems.

The Physical Setting: The Universe

  • The sun can be seen only in the daytime, but the moon can be seen sometimes at night and sometimes during the day.

The Physical Setting: The Earth

  • Some events in nature have a repeating pattern.
  • Water left in an open container disappears, but water in a closed container does not disappear.
  • Water can be a liquid or a solid and can go back and forth from one form to another.

The Living Environment: Cells

  • Magnifiers help people see things they could not see without them.

The Mathematical World: Numbers

  • Simple graphs can help to tell about observations.

Common Themes: Models

  • A model of something is different from the real thing but can be used to learn something about the real thing.
  • One way to describe something is to say how it is like something else.

Habits of Mind: Computation and Estimation

  • Make quantitative estimates of familiar lengths and temperatures and check them with measurements.

Habits of Mind: Communication Skills

  • Describe and compare things in terms of number, size, and motion.
  • Draw pictures that correctly portray at least some things being described.

Lesson-by-Lesson Summary
Lesson 1: What's that in the Sky?

To introduce the unit of Weather and Sky, the students become familiar with gathering direct observations of the sky during different times of day. Students predict and record the objects they think will appear in the daytime sky on a class chart. Then the students go outside to make direct observations of the daytime sky and record/describe what they see. They share their findings with their peers and discuss how the weather feels outside, introducing words such as "temperature" and "weather."

The students predict and record the objects they think will appear in the nighttime sky on an additional chart. As a Family Science Activity, the students make direct observations of the nighttime sky and record/describe what they see. They return the next day prepared to share their observations with their peers.

Students use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the daytime and nighttime skies. Using adhesive notes, the students draw an item that was not mentioned that can be observed in the sky, and classify the object as one that can be observed in the daytime sky, nighttime sky, or both.

Lesson 2: Weather Watchers
Weather Watchers introduces the students to the four main weather features studied throughout this unit: temperature, wind, precipitation, and cloud cover. The activity begins with a pre-assessment to find out what the students already know about weather, introduces words to describe the weather, and discusses how they plan their daily activities and clothing choices around the weather for the day. The class weather pocket chart and weather cards are introduced, allowing students to become familiar with the science words and weather symbols that they will use throughout the unit and on their daily observations. The weather features are introduced and discussed one at a time so the students can develop a familiarity with the features and how to record weather observations using charts and weather symbols.

Once the features have been introduced, the students take turns being weather collectors and reporters for the class. They make direct observations of the weather features daily and record the class observations by placing the weather cards on the weather pocket chart and recording the observations in their science notebooks.

Lesson 3: Seasons and Patterns
In Seasons and Patterns, the students concentrate on the characteristics of the four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Using a weather flip chart, the students view and discuss photos pertaining to each season one at a time; discussions may include what to wear outside or what outdoor activities are relevant to each season. They record their observations and experiences on class charts, on Student Activity Sheets, and in their science notebooks for each season. The students expand their science vocabulary through discussion and illustration, and practice writing their new vocabulary on the student activity sheets provided in each lesson.

In Part E, the students' activity sheets from Parts A–D are assembled as a cycling filmstrip for students to reference during class discussions. By exploring and moving the filmstrip through the viewfinder, the students observe the repeating pattern of the seasons and expand their discussion of other repeating patterns in nature, such as that of day and night. The students use their knowledge from the lessons on each season to classify photos of a tree as it progresses through the four seasons, using clues such as snow on the ground, flowers budding, or the changing colors of leaves.

Lesson 4: Temperature and Weather
Students use their class weather pocket chart to hold a discussion on temperature. They record all ideas regarding temperature on a class chart, focusing on tools that measure temperature, and the vocabulary words "hot," "warm," "cool," and "cold." Students interact using a thermometer, an enlarged demonstration thermometer, and a dry erase thermometer model as standard tools to measure temperature. They dress characters for the weather according to the temperature outside and provide explanations to support their reasoning.

After they become familiar with different thermometers used to measure temperature, students place one thermometer outside to be warmed by the sun. After a while, they observe the thermometer as a class outdoors. Then the students use the demonstration thermometer as a model to analyze changes in a thermometer's appearance as the temperature becomes warmer and colder.

Lesson 5: Gone with the Wind
In Lesson 5, students concentrate on wind, relative position and motion, and the measurement of wind speed, using bubbles and bar graphs. Students establish a common rule to describe wind as moving air and discuss how wind sounds, looks, and feels. They differentiate between calm, breezy, and windy conditions, and observe air inside a bubble.

Students predict and then explore ways to slow a bubble down and speed a bubble up by varying the force of the air that they use to blow the bubble out of the wand. Students observe outdoors using bubbles to determine wind direction and speed, and use this evidence to explain wind direction and relative motion on Student Activity Sheet 5A.

Working with a partner, students measure the distance a bubble travels using nonstandard units of measurement and graph their results on Student Activity Sheet 5B in a bar graph. Once Part C is completed outdoors, the students gather inside to share their findings and compare their results. Student data is combined in a class tally chart for a post-assessment discussion.

Lesson 6: Rain, Snow, Ice, Oh My!
In Lesson 6, the students observe, discuss, interact with, and plan for different types of precipitation. The lesson begins with students observing photos of rainy, icy, and snowy settings and discussing their similarities and differences. Students examine ice as a solid form of precipitation, using a hand lens to gather observations. They focus on the how ice feels cold to the touch and slippery in their hands. Over several class sessions, the students record changes that occur in precipitation. Their ice cube turns into a rain puddle when left out at room temperature. The students measure the rate of evaporation using a china marker and their precipitation cup.

Using a weather frog and the Building Blocks of Science® meerkat, the students choose appropriate outfits for different precipitation scenarios. They provide explanations for their outfit choices in different precipitation and temperature combinations with their peers using their observations to base their explanations and record their choices in their science notebooks.

Class charts are used to record the students' observations regarding two types of precipitation: ice and rain. In Part G, the students combine their observations of these two types of precipitation in a class Venn diagram chart.

Lesson 7: Cloud Cover
Lesson 7 focuses on cloud cover. Students start the lesson by analyzing data collected on a class weather pocket chart using their cloud observations from the school week. They develop common definitions for sunny, cloudy, partly cloudy, and foggy cloud cover scenarios through class discussions. Students make direct observations of clouds in the sky and record their observations on a Student Activity Sheet. The activity sheets are posted in the classroom and are the main focus for a guided conversation on observable patterns, shape, and position.

Part B uses photographs and interactive riddles to introduce the main types of clouds. Students match the cloud type with the description in an interactive activity. Students identify cloud types and discuss the similarities and differences among cirrus, stratus, cumulous, and cumulonimbus clouds, and how they are formed. By the end of the lesson, the students are able to identify the types of clouds and high or low clouds in the sky.

Lesson 8: Weather Reporting and Safety
Lesson 8 culminates all of the weather features introduced in Weather and Sky and provides each child an opportunity to report their science notebook observations, including all of the vocabulary words and descriptors from the unit. Students analyze their weather data in their notebooks and look for patterns and connections among weather features. They compare their weather observations and data collection with their peers' through discussion and movement.

Students are introduced to extreme or dangerous weather conditions, such as floods, tornados, hurricanes, lightning, and thunderstorms. They create a tornado model and discuss how to prepare for tornados and floods. Students practice a tornado drill and discuss ways to stay safe during severe weather. They create a flood model and discuss the connection between flash flooding and soil absorption.

A Family Science Activity allows students to share what they have learned about staying safe during severe weather situations with their families. They create a weather safety kit, and share their collections with their peers.

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