Testing Temperatures

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SWBAT understand the connection between temperature and weather by measuring ice, water in a room and water left in the sun.

Big Idea

Kids learn that temperature is relative to weather conditions.


5 minutes

I call the kids on table at a time to sit like scientists. That means they are sitting quietly with their hands in their lap ready to listen and learn. 

I ask the kids if they know what temperature is. I call on random volunteers to share their thoughts with the class. They give fairly strong kindergarten level explanations of temperature. 

I then ask the kids to silently think to themselves about how weather and temperature might be related. I give them 20 seconds and then I have them share with their floor partners. I call on three kids by pulling name sticks from the name stick can. Those kids are asked to share their discussions with the whole class. This allows everyone to be heard, but still respects class time by having only a few share out. 

I then ask the kids how we might test temperature. What are some things we can do to find different temperatures? What would we use? How would we use it? As the kids share, I record the thoughts and materials on chart paper so we can use the list to narrow down an idea or activity.

The kids list a ton of items and ideas, but most of them cannot be achieved in the classroom so we narrow it down to cups, ice, warm water, ice cubes, cold water and thermometers. These are things that are easy to use and manipulate in the classroom. 

I ask the kids how we could best experiment with those materials. Through random student input (I call on volunteers one at a time to share), they decide that we should use thermometers to determine the temperatures of:

  • a cup of ice water
  • a cup of warm water
  • a cup of water left outside in the sun (connecting to the heat lesson)
  • a cup of water left in outside in the shade


15 minutes

Now that they have decided what they would measure to explore temperature, I pull out the supplies. I have a refrigerator in my classroom. 

Each table is given:

  • four clear plastic cups, 16 oz
  • ice
  • warm water
  • refrigerated water
  • one thermometer
  • one permanent marker
  • recording sheets, one for each student

The table leaders are asked to write the table name on each cup with the marker. I have the helper of the day collect all the markers as soon as they are finished so there are no mishaps with the permanent ink. The kids are asked to make one cup of ice water, two cups of room temperature water, one cup of warm water. They are then asked to take an initial temperature reading of each cup and record it. The table leader places the thermometer in a cup first, then they take turns going clockwise.

After recording the initial temperatures, the kids take the two room temperature water cups out side and put one in direct sunlight and the other in the shade under a tree. We gather back on the floor for 10 minutes to listen about temperature. When we are done, we will test all the temperatures again and record them.


10 minutes

I read a book about temperature. We stop at specific points in the book to have the kids discuss what they are learning. I give them 20 seconds to think and then time for each partner to share their ideas. This encourages the use of scientific vocabulary and rich discussion at an appropriate level for kinder.

After we finish reading the book, I call on three kids to share something new they've learned from listening to the text. The kids are picked at random by me pulling a name stick from a name stick can. This allows the kids to hear a variety of learning from the same experience. It helps the kids learn from each other. 

Once we are finished sharing, I have the kids go back to their tables one at a time and re-check the temperatures in the cups. I also have the table leaders go outside to get their "in the sun" water cups. They check the temperature and then they go get the "in the shade" cups and re-check the temp. I have them do it one at a time so they don't confuse the cups.

All the students complete their recording sheets and then meet on the carpet. They share their findings with their floor partners and point out similarities and differences. As a whole class, we discuss whether 1 or 2 degrees is a significant difference or if that's okay. I leave it up to them. 

I then make a recording sheet on chart paper and record all the tables information so we can compare all the data. We find that most of the temperatures are within 2 degrees of each other, which could be just how we read the thermometer. 

We then discuss how the ice water and the shaded water have the lowest temperatures and talk about why that would be. We repeat that for the warm water and the direct sun water. 


10 minutes

The evaluation is done in the science journals. The kids are asked to draw a picture of the experiment and write about what they did and what the results were. They have the option to attach their recording sheet or take it home. The only rule is that they are required to use the data from it to write their entry. I set a timer for 10 minutes because it encourages them to use the time wisely.

I write a sample entry on chart paper. They can use the data from my entry, but they may not copy the entire thing as most of them can write fairly well at this point in the year. 

When everyone is finished with their journal entry, we meet back on the floor with our journals and share what we wrote with our floor partner. 

I call on three random kids to take the teacher chair and share their work one at a time with the whole class. The rest of the kids are encouraged ask questions for clarification. This promotes strong discourse among the kids.


10 minutes
The extension of this lesson is a take home reader. We practice it together before it goes home. The reader mimics our core reading program readers so the kids read them fairly well. They also serve as a home-school connection for science. 
  1. The kids track with their finger as the I read the text. They only use their eyes to connect to the text; they do not read yet.
  2. The kids read with me as I read the text and they track the words with their finger.
  3. The kids read out loud as they track the words with their finger.
  4. The kids turn to their floor partner and take turns reading the pages of the mini-book.

By the time the kids have heard and read the mini-book four times, they are prepared to take them home and read them with their families.