What is Weather?

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Students will discuss what they know about weather and how they think it should be measured.

Big Idea

What is weather? How do we measure it, and why?

Note to the Teacher

The lessons in this unit on seasons and weather are built on the K-2 foundation, "The temperature and amount of rain (or snow) tend to be high, low or medium in the same months every year."  You can read more about the background knowledge third graders need to have in the NSDL Science Literacy Maps.


Opening Discussion

45 minutes

This is my introductory lesson for the unit on weather, as well as a start-of-school opportunity for a meaningful discussion.   I spend more time on the discussion than I usually will because I'm beginning to build our sense of community. I'm also teaching my students the procedures and expectations for listening to each other, allowing for think time, respectful responses, and sharing with partners.

I show students the video What is Weather and ask them to write down their thoughts about weather (in general) and/or these questions specifically as the video plays.


An alternative or an addition to supplement the writing they complete during the video is to ask each of these Guiding Questions. Here are two examples of the six guiding questions, complete with sentence stems:


After I students read a question, I ask them to think silently (for about 45 seconds) before I allow them to share with each other or the group as a whole.  I either record their responses in a word document (Guiding Questions-Student Ideas) that I will later print out for them or share with them using Google Drive or assign one of these questions as homework and let them take time to think about their response and then bring it back to share with the class.

I find it helpful to use forms (click link above to access) to record anecdotal notes.

Details: Drawing & Writing for Science

15 minutes

Drawing for science is different than drawing for other subjects.  As the year progresses, the students will create different types of drawings and diagrams that will all share one common element. They will contain specific elements or details that will convey information about the topic.  

Today, the drawing has two purposes.  The first is for science, of course, and the second reason is to give them a mental breather and a change of pace as they ease back into the school routine.  My students work hard, all day long, and I make this possible by building in meaningful routine changes and content-rich breaks.

Today, I ask students to draw one of the following:

I challenge them to include details that in some way reflect the temperature, precipitation, wind and/or humidity.

Drawing pictures with intent will be one of the ways in which I encourage students to add specific details to their writing, as the illustration can be a jumping off point for what they want to include in their text.  Rich science writing focuses on specific moments and details, different from narratives only in the additional "requirement" that there is greater specificity/accuracy in the details.

* Tucson is in a flat valley surrounded by four "sky-island" mountain ranges that showcase magnificent summer displays of lightning and dramatic cloudscapes.  You will create your own example here that calls upon a shared experience your students have with the summer weather in your part of the United States!