Social Studies Unit

Contact Information

Kurt Farnsworth

Emily Brown



Learning Goals

References & other Resources

Children's Literature


Lesson Plans

Return to Other Social Studies Units - Index

Background Information

What is Climate?

Although many people may think climate and weather are synonymous, they are not. The climate of a particular region is the average weather over a period of many years. Weather is what people see from day to day. A day could be rainy or dry. Climate is what people have learned by experiencing it year after year.

The askjeeves encyclopedia defines climate in the following way: (


The pattern or cycle of Weather conditions (such as temperature, Wind, Rain, snowfall, humidity, clouds), including extreme or occasional ones, over a large area, averaged over many years. Factors that affect climate include where a place is on the earth, local land features like Mountains, the type and amount of plants like Forests or Grassland, the nearness of large bodies of water, prevailing Winds, and human activities like burning fossil fuels, farming, or cutting down Forests. Two places can be close together and have very different climates. Hawaii's northeast slopes are wet, but the southwest, on the other side of the mountains, is much drier. Two places far apart on the globe can have very similar climates. The southeastern United States, like eastern China, is temperate, humid, has a hot summer, and has no dry season. Chicago and Moscow both have cold winters and hot summers. Colder climates aren't always closer to the North Pole. Great Britain is farther north than Newfoundland, but since it's warmed by the Gulf Stream its climate is warmer and milder than that of "The Rock."


The Earth has many climate regions. Some climates are so warm that people may never have to wear even a sweater. In other climates, snow stays on the ground all year long. There are still other places on the Earth where it rains between 30 and 40 feet every year. Geographers know climates are different in high, middle and low latitudes. The difference will be explained later in this synopsis. Major Land forms such as mountains also affect climate as well as wind and water currents.
The concepts of weather and climate are related but not the same. The distinction between the two is the difference between specifics and generalities.

Different Parts of the World Have Different Climates

Different parts of the world have different climates. The tilt and rotation of the earth cause
different regions to receive different amounts of heat and light from the sun.
Direct rays from the sun hit around areas of the equator. These areas are known as the tropics.
These are found between about 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south. Most of the climate is
hot in the tropics, unless you lived at a high elevation where temperatures are cooler. There are
two types of tropical climates. The tropical rain forest climate is wet in most months. The
tropical savanna climate has two distinct seasons-one wet and one dry.
Most of the world's population lives in the mid-latitude, or moderate, climates. This type of
climate has the most varieties of climates. The climates extend from about 30 degrees north to
60 degrees north and from about 30 degrees south to 60 degrees south. In most places,
temperatures change with the seasons. The climates that are in the mid-latitude climates are
Marine west coast climate, Mediterranean climate, humid continental climate, and humid
subtropical climate.
The high latitude climates extend from about 60 degrees north to the North Pole and 60 degrees
south to the South Pole. The high latitude regions are cold everywhere, although some are more
severe than others. These climates include the sub arctic climate, tundra climate, ice cap climate,
and highland climate.
Dry climate refers to dry or partially dry areas that receive little or no rainfall. Temperatures in
these regions can be extremely hot during the day and cold at night. They can also have severely
cold winters. The two types of dry climates include the desert climate and the steppe climate.
Climate maps are useful for locating where the different types of climates are located around the world.


Climate Maps

Climate maps are tools used to identify where in the world certain climates are found. Maps such as the one found below generally color code the different climates. By looking at climate maps students can study the factors that affect climate, such as mountain ranges, ocean currents or closeness to the equator. Source




Relation to Social Studies


Climate affects the way people live. Different types of shelter are used in different climates. People who live in the tropical regions have houses that are not well insulated and are made of light materials. Individuals who live in high latitude regions are required to have shelter that is well insulated and can survive through rough weather patterns. The transportation of people also varies in different climate regions. Buses and bicycles are suitable for individuals who live in mid-latitude and tropical climates, but in the high latitude climate regions it is necessary to have transportation that is designed for extreme types of weather and temperatures.
The activities that people do are also affected by climate. In climates where there is always snow and cold temperatures, people often stay indoors or are very limited in the amount of activities that they can participate in outside. However, in regions where there are many seasons and a variety of temperatures and weather patterns, people often develop many hobbies and interests, depending on the weather. For example, in Utah many people enjoy skiing and snowmobiling in the winter and enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, and outdoor sports in the spring, summer and fall.
Climate affects the way people feel emotionally. The weather and climate often affects the occupations of people. An occupation such as farming is greatly affected by the different weather patterns. Snow and extreme colds may cause a farmer to lose her crop which is her form of income. This could cause him to become sad, upset, frustrated, worried or depressed. Also, some individuals do not enjoy cold weather and should not live in a climate that is always cold. It is important to be aware of how the climate and weather affects the emotions of people.


Background References:

Boehm, R.G., Armstrong, D.G., Hunkinds, F.P., Geography The World & Its People Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, New York, 2000. P. 41-50.

Baerwald, T.J., Fraser, C. World Geography Prentice Hall, Massachusetts, 2000. P 59-70.


Learning Goals

1. Students will learn the different characteristics of the different climates.

2. Students will learn that different parts of the world have different climates.

3. Students will be able to read a climate map and understand how climate maps work.

4. Students will understand how climate affects clothes, shelter, food, transportation, activities, feelings and the way of life of people who live there.



References & other Resources

*Hands-on Geography by Susan Buckley and Elspeth Leacock pg. 63-66.

This book contains lessons that introduce climate, the seasons and the cause and effect relationships.


*Our World: A planning guide for the kindergarten and first grade curriculum, by Ann Overton and Jeanne James.

Contains activities about the different climates such as deserts, plains, mountains, tundra, etc.


*The Book of WHERE or How to be Naturally Geographic by Neal Bell.

Introduces children to maps, globes, and different geographic regions.


*K-6 Geography themes, Key Ideas, and Learning Opportunities by GENIP. pg. 12-13.

Gives ideas of possible lessons with the unit of Climate.


*The Complete School Atlas by Holt Rinehart & Wintson.

ERTC Contains climate maps for the different regions of the world.


*Regions of the World; Map Transparencies and Teacher Notes by Holt Rinehart and Winston.

A transparency of the world's climates and a teacher note about how to discuss and use the map.


Internet Sites:

A lesson plan about teaching children how to use a climate map.

Lessons about temperature and Snow

Many other science lesson Plans

A site about how to survive in cold weather.

Information about rain forests; such as the climate, animals, etc.

Site that describes aspects about all the different climates.

This website contains an entire unit on weather and how to integrate it into Social Studies.


Other Resources:

*The Change in the Weather: People, Weather & the Science of Climate.

Book for teachers discussing the worldwide climate.


Call a local weather station and ask to meteorologist to come talk to your class.


Children's Literature


Lost by Paul Brett Johnson & Celeste Lewis. Barton Press, 1996.

This is a story about a dog lost in the desert. It has pictures and descriptions of the

weather and climate in the desert as well as animals and plants.


Roadrunner by Naomi John. E.P. Dutton, 1980.

A story about a Roadrunner and his life in the desert. Excellent book about United States

desert animals and life in the desert.


Noises in the Woods by Judi Friedman. E.P. Dutton, 1979.

Great picture book about animal and plant life in the woods. Describes different animals

that come out in the night.


Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston. Dial Books for young readers, 1994.

The story about a little girl who lives on a mountain top with no schools. She wants to

learn how to read. Great book for integration of mountains.


Snowed In by Barbara M. Lucas. Bradbury Press, 1993.

Tells how people who live in snowy climates deal with hard winters. Can be used to

compare to other climates.


From Ice to Rain by Marlene Rudel. Carolrhoda Books, 1974.

This is an easy book for young children to read about seasons. It can easily be related to



Weather & Climate by Theodore Rowland-Entwiste. Gareth Stevens Children's Books, 1991.

Book about the weather and climate in different areas of the world.


Snow Watch by Cheryl Archer. Kids Can Press Hd., 1994.

This contains experiments, activities and things to do with snow. It also discusses

characteristics of snowy climates.


What's Happening To Our Climate? By Malcolm E. Weiss. Messner Books, 1978.

A scientific resource book about why there are different climates in different areas of the



Eyewitness Books "Jungle," "Antarctica," etc. by Theresa Greenaway. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.,


Beautiful reference books with pictures and information about weather, climate, animals,

and more from all over the world.


The story of the Earth by Lionel Bender.

Another great fact book with excellent pictures and information about the desert climate.


The True Book of Weather Experiments by Illa Podendorf. Children's Press, 1961.

This is an older book but still has some really good ideas for weather and climate

Another great fact book with excellent pictures and information about the desert climate.


The True Book of Weather Experiments by Illa Podendorf. Children's Press, 1961.

This is an older book but still has some really good ideas for weather and climate

experiments to do with a class.

Videos & Filmstrips


---Snowy Day; Stories and Poems. Reading Rainbow, 30 min. Moore Library: NB VR 139

---Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain. Reading Rainbow, 30 min. Moore Library: NB VR 63

---Magic School Bus Kicks up a Storm. Scholastic's. 30 min. Moore Library: NB VR 227.

---Slim Goodbody's World of Weather and Climate. Chicago, IL: SVE, 1983. Moore Library: NB

KT 183.





Call the local weather stations and see if they offer tours of the weather station to students. Prior to attending the station,

discuss with the students questions they might ask. It is also very important to discuss the appropriate conduct of students

when they are visitor at other locations. This could be great introductory experience.

Materials: transportation to weather station, parent volunteers.

Time: depends on how far away the station is and how long the tours are.




Gather articles of clothing that would be worn in different climates. Have all of the articles of

clothing from each climate mixed. Discuss the temperatures and weather patterns of the different

climates. Have the students decide which articles of clothing could be worn in the different

climates. The students will see that the same article of clothing may be worn in more than one


Materials: articles of clothing.

Time: 45 minutes.



Divide students up into groups of 4-6. Assign each group a specific climate. Each group of

students is responsible for designing and posting a bulletin board about their climate. The

bulletin boards could be designed and posted throughout the unit, or at the end as a culminating

activity. Students should include pictures and articles which are unique to their climate.

Materials: bulletin board, paper, writing utensils, items about climates.

Time: extended periods.



 Discuss with the students that the types of food that we eat sometimes depends on the climate in

which we live. Those climates closer to the equator often grow many fruits and fresh foods.

Places like Alaska do not grow their own fruits, so they have a different way of getting their food

sources. With cut out pictures of various foods, have the students decide which food is eaten in

the different climates.

Materials: Nutrition cut-outs.

Time: 30 minutes.



 This activity helps children focus on the purposes of hats. Gather different kinds of hats such as

baseball caps, safari hats, snow hats, etc. Have students decide which hats are most useful in

each climate. Give students the opportunity to come up with ideas of what purposes each hat has

in the different climates.

Materials: variety of hats.

Time: 30 minutes.



This activity gives students an opportunity to visually show their understanding of the different

climates and major characteristics of each. The activity could be used as a culminating activity

or as an activity after discussing one of the climates. Have each students either bring in small

objects that portray a climate or have the students draw pictures/find pictures of items that define

a climate. Attach the items, usually 4-6, to a hanger by string.

Materials: hangers, string, objects that define a climate.

Time: 45 minutes.



Ask the local weatherperson or meteorologist if they would be willing to share what goes on in the weather

stations with the students. Prior to the guest speaker, prepare with students questions that they

would like to ask. Discuss with them the ways in which they should react and

respond to the guest.

Materials: none.

Time: 20 minutes to prepare questions, 30-60 minutes for guest.



Following the guest speaker from the local weather station, discuss with students what they

learned from the guest. Discuss what they found interesting and questions that they may still

have that they didn't have the opportunity to get answered. Have each student, or a group of

students, write a letter to the guest thanking him/her for coming. Also have the students include

items that they learned or found interesting and ask questions that they may still have.

Materials: paper and pencil

Time: 30 minutes a day for two days. The first day, write a rough draft, the second day have them do a final draft.



After discussing with students the different characteristics of climates, have student compare the

similarities and differences among the different climates. This could be done by having students

compare two climates after they have learned about the different climates or it could be an

ongoing project throughout the unit.

Materials: paper and pencil

Time: 30 minutes if only comparing two climates, varied time if it is used throughout the unit.



Discuss with students the different climates around the world. Have each student decide on a

place where they would like to visit. Have the students make a greeting card that they would

send to a friend of relative while they were in the place that they would like to be. The greeting

card should give the friend or relative an idea of what the climate is like in their dream location.

Materials: colored paper, crayons, markers, scissors, glue.

Time: 45 minutes.



Discuss with students the different climates around the world. Have each student decide on a

place where they would like to visit. Have students pretend like they are on a vacation to the

location of their dreams. Students will write a letter to their friend or family member, explaining

what it is like in their dream place. Students should be encouraged to write about what the

temperature is like, how it looks in the climate, how it is different from where they live, etc.

Materials: paper and pencil.

Time: 30 minutes a day for two days.



At the beginning of the unit, discuss with students that an artifact is an article that represents a

specific event, item, or time period. Throughout the unit, have students bring in artifacts from

home that represent the different climates, specifically artifacts that represent the people that

live in the various climates. At the end of the unit, review the different artifacts and compare

which climate has the most artifacts and why.

Materials: artifact that represent the different climates.

Time: Throughout the unit.



Discuss with students defining characteristics of the various climates. Divide up students into

groups of about 4-6. In their groups, have students come up with a crossword puzzle about the

various climates. The crossword could be about only one climate, or it could be about all of

them. Students should also come up with the clues to be used to figure out each word in the

crossword puzzle. Groups can then exchange crossword puzzles and see which if other groups

can do the crossword puzzles. Materials: graph paper, paper, pencil. Time: 30 minutes a day for

2-4 days, depending on the difficulty of the assignment.



 After discussing the different types of climate and characteristics of each, have each student

make a collage. The collage could either be of just one climate, or the paper could be divided

into four sections, each section portraying a different climate. The collage may include types of

clothes worn, common weather patterns, shelter, etc.

Materials: construction paper, magazines, scissors glue.

Time: 30 minutes a day for two days.



This activity would be most beneficial if used at the end of the unit. Discussions about the

various climates, characteristics of each, and different objects in the climates should have already

been discussed. Have each student make a diorama of a climate of their choice. This is a good

way of assessing the students understanding of the various climates and characteristics of each.

Materials: let the students decide what materials they would like to use (often times students

make the diorama in a shoe box).

Time: 30 minutes a day for a week or assign as a take-home project.


Lesson Plans


Utah Directions and Temperature

By Kurt Farnsworth

&Emily Brown

Grades 1-2

Social Studies/Geography




Students will be able to identify the directions of North, South, East and West on a map of Utah.

Students will be able to show on a map which cities in Utah will be warmer and what activities they

can participate in during certain times of the year.



Map of Utah or Chart paper on which to draw a map of Utah.

Current Newspaper with a weather map including Utah temperatures.

Paper for students to draw on and write stories.




1. Show the students a map of Utah or draw it on the chart paper.

2. Ask the students if they have ever been to other cities in Utah.

3. Discuss with the students how the weather differs in other parts of the state.

4. Write the four directions of N, S, E, W, on the map.

5. Ask the students to name cities located in these different directions from Logan. (e.g. Smithfield is North, St. George is South, etc.)

6. Ask the students which direction they would travel if they wanted to be warmer, colder, or the same.

7. Look at the newspaper and plot temperatures of various Utah cities to see if the students' predictions were correct.

8. Have several students plot the temperatures of the different cities on the map.

9. Discuss with the students what type of activities they might be able to do in St, George or other places in Utah. (e.g. You can golf in St. George in November.)



First Graders

1. Give each student a piece of blank drawing paper.

2. Have them choose a city they may want to visit this weekend.

3. Using the information about direction and temperature from the map, have the students draw a picture of the activity in which they could participate.


Second Graders

1. Give the second graders a piece of writing paper.

2. Do the same activity as above except instead of drawing their activity they will write a story about it.

Both Grades:

After the students finish their stories have them return to the group for sharing.



First graders who are good writers should write the story or as much as they can about the activity.

If second graders finish their written story they may draw a picture.



Evaluate the students understanding of the concept by looking at their pictures and stories.





Emotions and Weather

Subject Area(s): Social Studies

Grade Level: Grade 1 & 2

 Emily Brown

Lesson Plan #1

November 9, 2000



Students will be able to orally tell what type of weather is appropriate for certain job occupations.

Students will be able to give examples of what types of emotions people feel in various types of weather

and discuss how they feel in different types of weather.


Materials Needed:

Pictures of different occupations, signs that say Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall



1. Discuss how the different types of weather make the students feel.

*When it gets very hot, I get cranky and uncomfortable.

*When it rains, I like to stay inside and think about things, etc.


2. Weather affects people in different ways. Yesterday, most of you looked at pictures of different job occupations and tried to

figure out how weather effects their job. Today we are going to talk about how weather affects people's jobs and how it makes different people feel.


3. Spread out the pictures of the different job occupations on the floor. Have one student choose one of the cards.


4. Discuss how weather affects the occupation in the picture and how different types of weather might make them feel inside (emotionally).

*Farmer-bad weather may kill the crop, drought, freezing, make them feel nervous, worried, sad, upset, etc.

*Skier Instructors-need snow to do job.

*Fisherman-ice vs. river.


5. Continue until all of the pictures have been talked about.

6. Mix up pictures and put them face down on the floor.

7. Put up the signs that say "Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall."

8. Have different students choose one of the cards and have the student decide which season has the best weather for the occupation and tell why. Continue until time permits or until it is apparent that the students understand the concept being taught.



If time permits, have students draw a picture of what they would like to do as an occupation and draw the weather that is most appropriate for that job.



Observe children's contributions. Was each child able to discuss the effects of various types of weather on certain occupations?

If students draw a picture, it will be easy to observe if the child understands how weather relates to various activities and occupations.