Introduction to Weather

Williams College Center for Learning in Action
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan
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.



In "Lesson 0" of this weather unit, students explore what factors make up the weather and how scientists measure them. They describe the weather at the moment and then view a weather forcast to help them brainstorm a list of elements of weather. The discussion may unearth misconceptions, such as, weather happens in the sky, or if it is muddy or snowy, weather happens on the ground. Students begin to think about weather tools by exploring the use of a thermometer and the difference between Farenheit and Celcius. At the end of the lesson, the class contemplates why weather is important in their daily lives. The study (or review) of weather concepts is an important first step in understanding climate. It will be important, as the unit progresses, to help students distinguish between weather (the condition of the atmosphere at a certain place and time) and climate (the typical weather of an area, averaged over years).

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

3-ESS2-1 Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.

Clarification Statement: Examples of data could include average temperature, precipitation, and wind direction.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment of graphical displays is limited to pictographs and bar graphs. Assessment does not include climate change.

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

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In order for students to address this performance expectation, they should first have a solid grasp of the elements that make up weather. Weather is the condition of the atmosphere at a particular place and time. Once students understand this, they can contrast this definition with the definition of climate (3-ESS2-2). In this lesson, students are introduced to what weather is, how temperature is measured, and then they have a chance to start to collect data from their location. They can collect this data over time (during the seasons) and compile it in tables and graphs. As they look for patterns in their data, they can make claims based on their evidence about how to describe typical weather conditions in each season. This activity may need to be supplemented by weather data (especially summer data) from weather websites. Since this lesson only pertains to temperature, students will need to be introduced to other weather measurements (precipitation and wind) as well. Similarly to temperature, they can measure these conditions themselves and also access weather data to look for patterns in the differences between these factors over the seasons.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
If students record temperature data periodically throughout the year and compile their data in tables and graphs, they can look for patterns and make claims about how to describe typical temperature conditions during the seasons. See the NSTA resource review of the book, Sky Notebook, for further ideas on looking for weather patterns.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
At the beginning of the lesson, the teacher explains that meteorology is the study of weather patterns and making weather predictions. The teacher may need to say a bit more about this---that scientists record weather data across different times and areas to look for patterns. They use what they learn about these patterns to make predictions about what kind of weather might happen next. The teacher can then say that students will be learning about one type of weather data (temperature) and then will be collecting data over time to look for patterns and make predictions. After students compile their seasonal data (and supplement it with data from weather websites), look for patterns, and make claims based on their data, they can use their data to predict what temperatures will be like next year during each season.

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
Students can use patterns they see in their temperature data to predict future temperatures.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson provides a useful starting point from which to launch other lessons on weather. It serves as an introduction to what weather is, its importance, and how temperature is measured. When used in conjunction with other lessons about gathering and analyzing data precipitation and wind direction, it can provide the full picture to support the performance expectation. The practice of analyzing and interpreting data and the crosscutting concept of patterns are implicit in this lesson but can be enhanced and highlighted by the teacher easily.

  • Instructional Supports: Watching the weather forecast will introduce the vocabulary students will be using to learn about weather and climate and will make the topic relevant to them. The lesson does not include supports for all learners. However, the teacher could create an interactive word wall (words and descriptive pictures) for students (or ask students to create this on their own). In addition, scaffolded data charts could be provided as needed.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The teacher will be able to assess student understanding of the elements of weather through class discussion. In addition, at the beginning of the lesson, the teacher might formatively assess student background knowledge by asking: What do you think weather is? How do scientists measure weather? Does everywhere have the same weather at the same time? This information will help inform instruction. This introductory lesson should be followed by more in-depth study of climates, which will provide further opportunities for assessment, such as the students ability to describe climates or predict weather patterns based on weather data.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This lesson does not include a technologically interactive component.