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Open-and-go lessons that inspire kids to love science.

Science curriculum for K—5th grades.

90 sec
  • Hands-on lead students in the doing of science and engineering.
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Stormy Skies

Weather & Climate

2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade

NGSS Standards covered: 3-5-ETS1-1 , 3-5-ETS1-2 , 3-ESS3-1 , 3-ESS2-2 , 3-5-ETS1-3 , 3-ESS2-1
In this unit, students investigate and make predictions about the weather through careful observation of the clouds and wind. Students also learn to differentiate between weather and climate and use models to reveal global climate patterns. Less
  1. Lessons
  2. Activity Prep
  3. Assessments

Lesson 1: Water Cycle & Phases of Matter

Gas Trap

In this lesson, students examine clues about how clouds look and feel to discover what they’re made of and how they form. In the activity, Gas Trap, students add hot water to clear cups to observe evaporation firsthand. They observe the condensation of the water vapor on the sides of the cup. They use this model to understand how clouds are formed.

Number of students:
Gas Trap Experiment printout Print 30 copies
Clean-up Supplies (Eg. Paper Towels)
In case of spills.
1 roll
Container for Water
Any container that can hold about one cup of hot water will work.
8 containers
30 pairs
Clear Plastic Cups w/ Lids (16 oz)
Any waterproof lid will do. It doesn’t have to fit tightly. You could also use clear jars.
30 cups
Prep Instructions

You will need access to hot water for this activity.

Decide How to Distribute Hot Water

Each student will need about 1/4 cup of hot water. Hot water from the tap is hot enough -- in other words, water you can touch without it feeling uncomfortably hot. If you don’t have a sink in your classroom, fill a few bottles with hot water and bring them to the classroom. Keep the water hot by putting the bottles in a cooler or wrapping them in a towel.

We recommend having one container of hot water for each group of 4 students. For each group, you may want to appoint responsible students to help you pour water.

Lesson 2: Local Weather Patterns & Weather Prediction

Storm Spotter's Guide

In this lesson, students learn how to make predictions about the weather by observing clouds and their changes. In the activity, Storm Spotter's Guide, students create a small book to record their notes, identify different types of clouds, and think about wind direction to figure out if a storm is heading their way.

Number of students:
Storm Spotter's Guide worksheet 30 copies
Will It Storm? worksheet 30 copies
Will It Storm? Answer Key teacher-only resource 1 copy
30 pairs
Prep Instructions

We suggest students work in pairs. Homeschool students can work alone.

Figure Out Which Direction Weather is Coming From

The wind blows the clouds around. To see what clouds (and possible storms) are coming your way, you need to look into the wind.


On this world map, arrows show which way the prevailing winds blow in different parts of the world. In the continental United States, winds blow from west to east — so we look to the West to see the weather that’s coming our way. Which way does the wind blow where you live?

Label the Cardinal Directions

Once you know which direction you want to look, use a compass, a compass app on a smartphone, or Google maps to figure out the cardinal directions. Label your classroom walls North, East, South, and West. Find a landmark that will help your students remember which way to look. (Here in San Francisco, we look toward the ocean, which is to our west.)

Lesson 3: Climate, Geography, & Global Weather Patterns

Climate Decoder

In this lesson, students are introduced to the concept of “climate” and explore the world’s five major climates. In the activity, Climate Decoder, students color one part of a world map to figure out the different climates of that region. Students then combine maps and search for global climate patterns.

Number of students:
Americas Map & Climates (Fahrenheit & Celsius) printout Print 10 copies
Asia & Australia Map & Climates (Fahrenheit & Celsius) printout Print 10 copies
Europe & Africa Map & Climates (Fahrenheit & Celsius) printout Print 10 copies
Maps & Climates Answer Key (Fahrenheit Only) teacher-only resource 1 copy
Colored Pencils
Red, blue, yellow, orange, purple, brown. Each student needs these specific colors. Crayons will also work.
180 pencils
30 rulers
Prep Instructions

We suggest students work in pairs. Homeschool students can work alone, but will need to complete all three portions of the map on their own.

Divide Your Class and Assign Maps

Once your students are paired up, divide your class into three groups. Decide which group will be in charge of which map (Americas map, Europe & Africa map, and Asia & Australia map). At the end of the activity, groups will combine their maps to make a full world climate map.

Lesson 4: Natural Hazards & Engineering

Design a Windproof House

In this lesson, students explore the effects of natural hazards, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and dust storms. In the activity, Design a Windproof House, students build paper house models. Then, using limited materials, students design multiple solutions that will make their houses sturdy enough to survive a wind storm, and compare the merits of their solutions.

Number of students:
Design a Windproof House worksheet 30 copies
Paper House Model printout Print 30 copies
Windmaker printout Print 30 copies
Blank Paper (8.5 x 11")
Recycled is fine.
15 sheets
30 pairs
Dot Stickers
We prefer stickers because they are easier to distribute in a classroom. Tape also works.
60 stickers
Dot Stickers
We prefer stickers because they are easier to distribute in a classroom. Tape also works.
30 stickers
Paper Clips
90 clips
90 toothpicks
Prep Instructions

We suggest students work in pairs. Homeschool students can work on their own.

Prep Supplies for Distribution

Students first need one paper clip and two dot stickers to build their paper house model. For the second part of the activity, each pair will need a blank sheet of paper, six toothpicks, four paper clips, and two dot stickers to design a solution that prevents their house from blowing over in the wind. You may want to separate the supplies for these two parts of the activity for ease of classroom distribution.