Using Climate Maps

Lerner Publishing Epic
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Informative Text
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.




By reading this book, students will learn about the basics of climate: what it is, how we measure it, and how we represent it on maps. The book defines differences between climate and weather, and helps students discover patterns in the Earth’s climate zones. Teachers can access it for free at However, it is also available for purchase.

A related resource, National Geographic Mapmaker Interactive, can be used to further study climate maps. (The NSTA review of Mapmaker can be found at

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

3-ESS2-2 Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This book provides a good background for students on climates. Students can then gather additional information from other sources to describe climates mentioned in the book. For instance, the book (page 23) notes that while much of the world’s dry climate is hot, many deserts are cold. Students could then gather information from other articles, such as, to give them a more complete understanding and help dispel the misconception that all deserts are hot.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
To more fully address this practice, students should combine information from this book with climate data from other resources. Specific data on different climates could be compiled in student notebooks and/or on a class chart. This will allow students to easily compare their similarities and differences.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
This book will help students understand the differences between climate and weather. Climate is the average weather over a period of many (often 30) years. The mathematical concept of average may be unfamiliar to most third graders. It may help to explain the difference between the terms as “Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get.”

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
By observing climate patterns, students will be able to predict what kinds of weather might be expected in a certain area. It is important to note that climate maps only give broad generalizations, while weather maps help meteorologists predict day to day changes. Encourage students to notice patterns, such as northern Wisconsin is typically colder than southern Wisconsin.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource supports three-dimensional learning. When reading the book, students will be using the practice of obtaining information to gather data on the climates in different areas. They will observe patterns, which they can then use to predict expected weather in an area for specific seasons.

  • Instructional Supports: The book provides meaningful connections to everyday life for students. Features for different levels of readers are included. For instance, students can click on a word in the electronic book and a dictionary definition will pop up, along with an audible pronunciation of the word. The cursor can be used to zoom in on or track selected words. The book also includes a glossary and extension resources. It is clearly written and includes easy-to-understand visuals. To make this resource stronger, the teacher might read parts of it aloud, stopping to talk about the maps and key information along the way. In addition, opportunities for students to ask questions and share their ideas should be included. Students could jot these down in their notebooks to share later during partner, small group and/or whole group discussions.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: At the end of the book, challenges are included that allow students to apply and show what they learned. There is also a link that teachers can use to create a quiz. Alternatively, students could be asked to develop quiz questions for each other. No formative assessment is included. Prior to reading the book, the teacher could ask students to share their ideas on what climate is and how it is different from weather.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This book contains very limited technological interactivity.