- Grades: PreK–K
- Unit Plan:
- Describe the purpose of the thermometer.
- “Read” a color coded thermometer.
- Tell whether the thermometer means hot or cold.
- Outdoor thermometer
- Black paper
- Colored circle stickers
- Thermometer Sheet (PDF)
- Pencils and red crayons
- Caps, Hats, Socks and Mittens by Louis Borden
Set Up and Prepare
- Put color coded stickers on the outdoor thermometer. Red at 80-100 degrees, orange at 60-80 degrees, yellow at 40-60 degrees, green at 20-40 degrees and blue at 0-20 degrees.
- Cut black paper into strips and hang one strip in the calendar area. Place extra colored stickers nearby.
- Make a teaching thermometer with the cardstock by cutting a slot at the top and at the bottom. Cut a strip of white paper and color half of the strip red. The strip will slide through the slots of the cardstock. Add numbers and pictures to show hot temperatures and cold temperatures. You may also want to add the color stickers to the teaching thermometer.
- Cut smaller versions of the cardstock and paper strips for your students. Precut the slots and strips.
My goals with this lesson is to teach students the basic idea that when there is a lot of red on the thermometer, then it means hot, but when there is not a lot of red, then it means cold. As we track the weather throughout the year they will get daily exposure to reading a thermometer and understanding better how it works.
Discuss how we have been talking a lot about winter and how cold it is getting. Show students the outdoor thermometer and tell them that we will be keeping track of how cold it is with this thermometer. Describe how the thermometer tells us the temperature, whether it is hot or cold. Hang the thermometer outside and tell them that we will check it later to see the temperature.
Show them the teaching thermometer and talk about what the thermometer looks like when it is warm and when it is cold.
Explain that they are going to make their own thermometer to practice reading a thermometer. Model the process for the class.
Send the students to the tables to start working on their own thermometers.
When the students are finished, collect the thermometers and bring them back to the rug. Show them the thermometer that you hung outside and ask them what "color" it is today (what sticker does the red line touch?). Then record the temperature by putting that color stick on the black strip of paper you hung at the calendar area.
Ongoing: Add "Temperature Person" to your daily jobs and have a student check the temperature and put the colored sticker on the black strip everyday. I would change the strip with each new month and hang the strips in a long line around the room to show how to temperature has changed during the year. I also would hang the name of the month above each strip (January is mostly blue and green! But look at June! Now we are all orange and red!).
Day II (You will need to cut slits in the students' thermometer sheets and assemble them before this lesson.)
Sit the students at the rug and pass out their thermometers. Have them practice using them by asking them to show you what hot and cold look like. Then have them turn to a partner and practice with each other.
Read Caps, Hats, Socks and Mittens by Louis Borden. As you read have the students show on their thermometers what kind of temperature you are describing.
Supporting All Learners
If you live in a climate that does not have a great deal of temperature change, you may want to talk about warm places and cold places instead of warm months and cold months. Show your students a weather website (like www.weather.com) and look at temperatures around the world. Instead of charting the daily temperature, you might want to hang a map and put the colored stickers on the map. Someone could choose a country each day to look up.
Encourage your students to look at the weather websites at home and watch the weather on the news. You might want them to color in a map of the world with the different temperatures to show their online research.
- Students will learn how to read a thermometer and create a model thermometer
- Students will read an outdoor thermometer all year
- Did the students have enough time to practice with their thermometers?
- Are they able to read the colors of the outdoor thermometer?
- Are they noticing the change in temperature throughout the year?
As your students are responding to the book with their thermometers, observe to see who is confident with the idea and who is not. If you do not think that you are getting a good idea from observation alone, you could have them do a simple project of illustrating a paper folded in half with a warm thermometer on one side and a cold thermometer on the other side.