Weather Adds Up to Climate

Elementary Globe
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Activity , Experiment/Lab Activity , Informative Text , Unit
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.



This unit consists of five parts that occur over the course of a school year. In Part 1 students are introduced to different ways to describe weather. In Part 2, students record weather observations each day on bar graphs. In Part 3, at the end of each month, students analyze the bar graphs. In Part 4, at the end of the school year, students use the data to describe patterns of weather.  In Part 5, students read an Elementary GLOBE book: What in the World Is Happening With Our Climate? and compare regions with different patterns of weather (climate). The storybook is one of five storybooks in the Elementary GLOBE  curriculum.  

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Pre-Kindergarten
  • Grade 5
  • Elementary School
  • Grade 1
Access Restrictions

- none -

Performance Expectations

K-ESS2-1 Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.

Clarification Statement: Examples of qualitative observations could include descriptions of the weather (such as sunny, cloudy, rainy, and warm); examples of quantitative observations could include numbers of sunny, windy, and rainy days in a month. Examples of patterns could include that it is usually cooler in the morning than in the afternoon and the number of sunny days versus cloudy days in different months.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment of quantitative observations limited to whole numbers and relative measures such as warmer/cooler.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The 5 part unit strongly supports all three dimensions of NGSS according to the Performance Expectation as described in this review. The unit engages students in authentic and meaningful collection of weather data over the school year. The data is analyzed monthly, quarterly and at the end of the year to find trends and make predictions.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Encourage students to make "big picture" observations and "zoomed in" observations of the weather in the school yard throughout the year. Record the observations on the sensory weather bar and compare the observations with other classmates. It would be interesting for students in other school districts, states or countries to complete the same unit and compare the data.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
To fully address the Disciplinary Core Idea, the teacher should ensure that all parts of the year long unit are completed. While student activity pages are used to record and describe their observations, students could extend their learning by making predictions for different patterns of weather for upcoming months and in other locations around the world.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
To ensure the full Crosscutting Concept is addressed, the unit must be completed as a year long experience. There are student activity sheets that can be used to collect their data as well questions that can be used as evidence. In addition, the author suggests making and using a sensory weather bar for tracking daily weather. This supports the idea that scientists and engineers collaborate to observe and collect data. It also provides data for students to use as evidence for predictions that they will develop throughout the learning experience.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The unit has five parts which, when complete, allows students to experience, develop, and build on all three NGSS dimensions.. There is a particularly strong connection to the Crosscutting Concept of Patterns through the observation and documentation of weather data over time. Each part of the year long unit reinforces the NGSS dimensions.

  • Instructional Supports: This year long unit identifies and builds on students’ prior learning in all three dimensions including providing background support for teachers. A sensory weather bar for tracking weather with interlocking cubes must be made. Printable labels for the bar are available. Observations by the students should be made individually and as a class. Graphic organizers for class comparisons could be used. Providing scientifically correct and grade- level appropriate readings from texts, newspaper articles and pictures are also suggested as well as developing a rubric or a pre and post unit assessment that goes beyond the scope of anecdotal notes that are recommended earlier in this review.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: This year long unit elicits direct, observable evidence of three-dimensional learning. Students use practices with core ideas and crosscutting concepts to make sense of phenomena. It provides five student activity sheets for recording data and for teachers’ assessment of student understanding. Some of the sheets are repeated monthly. Due to the fact that this unit continues over the school year, anecdotal notes should be developed and saved to note student progress.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: With the exception of a link for the ebook that accompanies Part 5 of this year long unit, this unit does not provide any additional resources or integrate technology that will allow students to further explore concepts discussed in this lesson.