ALEX Lesson Plan


What's the Weather?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Kathy Perkins
System: Tuscaloosa City
School: Tuscaloosa City Board Of Education
The event this resource created for:ASTA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34832


What's the Weather?


Students will use weather data to construct charts and graphs of temperatures in their city in different seasons.  Then they will use this data as evidence to determine which temperatures are typical for each season.  Finally, they will research average seasonal temperatures for another U.S. city and compare the data to that of their own city in order to determine which city would be the best vacation spot on a given date.  Students will justify their explanations based on temperature data and the desired vacation activities.  

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
13 ) Display data graphically and in tables to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season (e.g., average temperature, precipitation, wind direction).

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Systems
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Use graphical displays to organize data that describes the typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Data
  • Types of graphs
  • Table
  • Seasons
  • Typical weather conditions for a season
  • Temperature
  • Precipitation
  • Wind direction
Students know:
  • Weather conditions, like average temperature, precipitation, wind direction, from a given area across multiple seasons.
  • Patterns of weather conditions across different seasons and in different areas.
Students are able to:
  • Identify typical weather conditions for a season.
  • Represent data in tables and various graphical formats.
  • Describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season.
Students understand that:
  • Scientists record patterns of the weather across different times and areas so that they can make predictions about what kind of weather might happen next.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Weather and Climate

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E4.8: Weather changes from day to day and during the seasons.

NAEP Statement::
E4.9: Scientists use tools for observing, recording, and predicting weather changes from day to day and during the seasons.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.3.13- Use a graph or pictograph to answer questions about weather.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will:

  • display weather data in tables, line graphs, and bar graphs.
  • use data as evidence to support a decision.
  • use weather vocabulary to construct written and oral explanations.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Sticky notes (5 pads)

Chart paper (8 sheets)



Tape (for hanging charts)

Large outdoor thermometer

Student science journals or one copy of note-taking guide for each student (see Attachments section)

Temperature cards (see Attachments section)

Story paper or student science journals for writing explanations

data charts of annual temperature and precipitation information from the U.S. Climate Data website (one for every pair of students)

Rubrics for evaluating student work

Technology Resources Needed:

computer with Internet access

projector (for showing websites)


This lesson works best if there are computers available for every 2-4 students.  If individual computers are not available for student research, information can be printed from the websites for student use.


Since understanding the astronomical reason for the seasons is a sixth-grade science standard (AL COS 6.1), students at this level will probably not fully comprehend why the seasons occur.  However, third graders can still observe weather and compare and contrast those observations to make generalizations about common temperature and precipitation in each season.

Seasons are caused by the tilt of Earth’s axis, which affects the angle at which sunlight hits Earth at different locations in its orbit around the sun.  The starting and ending dates seasons on the calendar are based on the astronomical seasons, but for this lesson you should use meteorological seasons:

  • Spring - March 1 to May 31
  • Summer - June 1 to August 31
  • Fall / Autumn - September 1 to November 30
  • Winter - December 1 to February 28 (February 29 in a leap year).

For more information, visit     

Often people use the term “average” as a synonym for “mean.”  However, average really means the most typical or ordinary representation of a range of data, so sometimes the median or mode may be better representations of an average.  For a great explanation of mean, median, and mode (any of which may be used as the “average,” depending on the situation), see this blog entry from Light Bulb Books.  For this lesson, students will use both the median temperature and the calculated mean to represent the average temperature for a month.

Prior to the lesson, go to U.S. Climate Data website and print information about monthly average high and low temperatures and precipitation for your city.   You may want to select the data chart using the Snip tool so you can save and enlarge this data table before making copies of it for the students.  


Engage (15 minutes):

Divide the class into four groups, one for each season of the year.  Give each group a chart labeled with one of the four seasons, markers, and a pad of sticky notes.  Activate prior knowledge about weather by having students list facts they already know about weather during that season.  For the first five minutes, have students work individually, writing one fact on each sticky note and completing as many as they can in five minutes.  (Each student should write his name on each note; these can be used as a pre-assessment of student knowledge.)  Then have groups compare their notes, creating a group chart of ideas that eliminates duplicate facts.  Hang charts at the front of the classroom and have a representative from each group share their information.  As students share and discuss the ideas, circle the facts that are not familiar to all the students, reflect misconceptions, or are things students want to learn more about.

Explore (15 minutes):

Take students outside to observe the current weather.  If it is raining, go to a covered area where students can still make weather observations.  Discuss the following questions:

  • How does the temperature feel?  Hot, cold, comfortable, etc.  
  • What tool can we use to measure the temperature?  thermometer 
  • Why are there two sets of numbers on the thermometer? for measuring in Celsius and Fahrenheit
  • Which scale do we commonly use in the United States? Fahrenheit
  • Which scale is more common in other countries? Celsius
  • Is today’s weather a typical day for the current season?  Why or why not?
  • Is there any precipitation today?  If so, what kind?  Is this typical for the current season?

Have students use the thermometer to record the current temperature.  Record other weather observations in notebooks or use the note-taking guide found in the Attachments section.

Explain (45 minutes):

Return to the classroom and have students write definitions to vocabulary in their journals or on the note-taking guide.  A sample note-taking guide that includes possible student responses is included in the Attachments section.

  • Temperature: a measure of how hot or cold something is
  • Thermometer: a tool for measuring temperature
  • Fahrenheit: scale for measuring temperature used in the U.S.A.  According to this scale, water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees.
  • Celsius: scale for measuring temperature used in science and around the world.  According to this scale, water freezes at 0 degrees and boils at 100 degrees.
  • Precipitation: rain, sleet, snow, or hail that falls to the ground
  • Average: a number expressing the typical value of a range of numbers. 

Tell students that while the weather is not the same every day during a season, there are “average” or typical things that most often occur in a season.  Weather changes all the time, but the climate for an area stays constant.  Watch the National Geographic Climate and Weather video and discuss the difference between weather and climate.

They will look at weather data to graph the range of temperatures that occur during a certain season in their city to determine whether today’s temperature is typical for the season.  They will also look at temperature information for all the seasons to determine what temperatures they can usually expect for each season of the year.

Have students return to their original groupings so you have one group for each season of the year.  Give students data charts of annual temperature and precipitation information from the U.S. Climate Data website

Have each group circle the three months that represent their meteorological season and create a chart in their notebooks representing that temperature data (see attached note-taking guide and sample with completed graphs).  Have groups work together to construct individual graphs in their notebooks or on the note-taking guide, and then make a large group graph on the chart.  Hang charts at the front of the room and discuss what these graphs show us about the temperature during each season.  (For example, temperature changes between days and during the day, so many temperature measurements are needed to find the typical or average temperature.  While some days may be much colder or warmer than average, most days in a particular season fall within a certain range of temperatures.)   

Give each pair of students a temperature card.  Students must use the class graphs to determine what season the day’s temperature probably represents.  Then they should write an explanation of why the temperature represents that season and draw a picture of themselves outdoors on a typical day in that season engaging in a recreational activity appropriate for that season.  

Elaborate (30 minutes):

Using computer and projector, show students maps of the United States color-coded by average temperature in each season.  Have students select a state in the United States that has different average temperatures from Alabama.  Students should work in pairs to conduct research on the average temperature in a given season in that state by collecting data from the U.S. Climate Data website.  Have each pair of students create a data table and graph of the new state’s data to illustrate average temperatures in that state.  Students will then compare the two cities (Alabama and one city from the selected state) and use this data to explain which state they would rather vacation in during that season based on temperature data.  For example, if students want to see snow, they might choose a state that has colder winter temperatures than Alabama.  If they want to be able to play outside comfortably in the winter without a coat, they might prefer a state that has higher average winter temperatures.  Have students write and orally present their arguments to the class.

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Assessment Strategies

Students create several work products during this lesson:

  • Journal entries or completed note-taking guide that includes data table and graphs for temperature data about their home city
  • Picture of themselves dressed for a particular temperature with a description of the season represented based on information from the class graphs for each season
  • Additional graph of temperature data for another city and state
  • Written and orally presented explanation telling which city they would prefer to visit on a vacation in a particular season using temperature data to support their argument.

Use this rubric to evaluate these work products.  


Have students research extreme weather using Weather Wiz Kids. Students may create presentations about extreme weather, or they can graph the occurrence of extreme weather events by time, damage caused, or season of the year in which they occurred. 

The following online weather games may be used to build more advanced knowledge and vocabulary:


Assign groups strategically, pairing struggling students with peer tutors.

Use the note-taking guides to provide a scaffold for students rather than having them construct the graphs on blank paper.  Consider providing a graph template on chart paper or work with small groups of students to create the outline of the graph before plotting data points.

Preview or review vocabulary and graphing with the Math is Fun website.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.