Archive for the 'earth science' Category

The Sun for 1st Grade

These students will understand basic relationships between the sun and earth.  They will learn that the sun is the source of energy and light and that it warms the land, air, and water.  Students will also be able to identify in which direction the sun rises and sets.  (VA SOL 1.6)


The Sun: Our Nearest Star
By:  Franklyn M. Branley and Edward Miller

006445202601lzzzzzzz.jpg This is a great educational book for younger children.  The pictures keep children interested and the content within is simple and informative.  There is information on the sun’s distance as well as energy that it provides.

The Sun is My Favorite Star
By: Frank Asch

sunfavorite.jpg This book follows the sun throughout the course of the day.  The narrator discusses the sun’s location and mentions how shadows form.  This book is also good for young children because the content is simple and the narrator is a young child as well.

The Sun
By: Seymour Simon

sunseymoursimon.jpg The best part about this book is the pictures.  These amazing detailed images give students the real thing and it provides them with more of an appreciation for how amazing the sun is compared to a drawing.

Sun Up, Sun Down
By: Gail Gibbons

gail.jpg This is a very simple book that provides basic information.  I would recommend using this book at the beginning of the lesson due to its simplicity.

Done in the Sun: Solar Projects for Children
By: Anne Hillerman
Illustrated by Mina Yamashita

donesun.jpeg This book is different from the others because it contains hands on activities for students regarding solar energy.  It is neat because these experiments and activities in the book can be completed in the classroom or at home.

Web Annotations

Astronomy For Kids
This website has animations and games designed for students.  They will be able to see the sun in relationship to the earth and moon.

Energy From The Sun
This website contains three different activities that students can do in class with simple materials.

Jobs of the Sun
This link contains instructions on how to create a chart to show how the sun provides different uses for us as people.

Solar Hot Dog Cooker
This link provides pictures and instructions on how to use the suns energy to create a solar oven to cook hot dogs with.

Resources for Teachers

Graphing Sunspot Cycles
A lesson plan examining Sunspot cycles

Sun Books
Instructions on how to make flip books on the earth and sun

Sun Photos
Compare and contrast pictures of the sun over different periods of time

Shaking It Up: Earthquakes!

Even though we may not feel it, the ground beneath us is in almost constant motion.  There are hundreds of earthquakes each year; however, many are not felt or occur far away from civilization.  Tectonic plates move along fault lines creating earthquakes which in turn form the landscape of our planet.  This constant changing of the earth’s crust is examined in VA Science SOL 5.7.  Although earthquakes are often considered dangerous and scary events to be taken very seriously, the scientific concepts discussed in the materials that follow give students an insight into the earth in which they inhabit.

A Project Guide to Earthquakes
Written by Claire O’Neal

Inside A Project Guide to Earthquakes, you will find thirteen experiments that elementary aged students will enjoy.  This book is targeted for upper elementary students and guides their interests in the science of earthquakes through hands-on activities.  It is a newer book (10/2010) and would be a good resource for teachers to use as they explore geology in the classroom.

Earthquake Games
Written by Matthys Levy and Mario Salvador, Illustrated by Christina C. Blatt

This book is best used for upper elementary and middle school students.  Included in the book are many activities that engage the student in learning about the awesome power of earthquakes.  This is a great book to use for both earthquake and volcano experiments.  Activities presented in Earthquake Games need to be supervised by an adult, and adult assistance may be needed to decipher some of the confusing page layout.  Solid information on geology, earthquakes, and volcanoes is given in this book and the games, experiments, and activities really enhance students’ interest in these topics.

Hands-on Science Projects
Written by Chris Oxlade

This is yet another very practical, experiment laden book for teachers and students to learn about not only earthquakes but many other geological and meteorological phenomena.  With a target age range of 9-12 years-old, this collection of over 50 experiments gives students a great resource from which to activate their knowledge of these subjects.  By having students interact with the scientific concepts presented, the experiments and activities in this book help teachers reach the full range of learning styles.  Also, by preforming the projects themselves, students can take ownership in their learning.

Earthquakes with Max Axiom
Written by Katherine Krohn, Illustrated by Tod Smith and Al Milgrom

This graphic novel will draw students into scientific concepts with its action-packed drawings and fast-paced action.  Earthquakes is included in a series of graphic novels centered around the main character, Max Axiom.  Again targeted at upper elementary, this book gives plenty of statistics, important events, and interesting facts about the topic while still staying with it’s comic-book like style.  The Max Axiom series is a great resource for students who are below level, struggle with, or are uninterested in reading.

…If you Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake
Written by Ellen Levine, Illustrated by Pat Grant Porter

  This book was written to give students insight into what life would have been like before, after, and during one of the largest earthquakes ever.  Along with wonderful illustrations for visual learners, this book can either be read aloud to students or students themselves can easily read and comprehend the content.  A great cross-curricular learning resource, this book encompasses science, sociology, history while building on reading skills.  Students are placed into the disaster through vivid linguistic imagery and given questions and answers that help children get a visualization of what it may have been like to be involved in the earthquake.

Earthquakes for Kids

This website is presented by the United States Geological Survey and contains links to student focused activities, games, and facts.  The site can be navigated by either teacher or student and contains resources for both as well.  Due to the amount of information contained within the links, this tool would be best used by having the teacher guide the student step-by-step through a process that would be most beneficial to the scope of learning.  However, the site can also be used by the student alone in spare time to explore areas of interest that may lead to furthering knowledge.

Weather Wiz Kids

Perfect website for older elementary students to navigate. Earthquake information, science, terminology, and images bring to life the concepts involved in earthquakes.  There are also plenty of other links to further information on each section so that students can get more in depth knowledge on a particular interest.  While the site is directed towards children, teachers can benefit from the lesson plan links offered at the bottom of the page and other topics linked on the left column.

Dragonfly TV

Dragonfly TV is a production of PBS Kids that is geared towards involving kids in the knowledge through videos, games, and other interactive resources.  This particular link leads the teacher and/or the student to a video in which two young girls discuss earthquakes where they live.  Along with factually laden information given by peers, this video shows the girls preforming actual science as well.  Although the video is a little lengthy for the classroom, the other links on the page will give teachers more great resources to interact students with the concept of earthquakes.

Earthquakes 101

A short video (about 2 1/2 minutes long), made by National Geographic (a well recognized institution) gives students vivid images and plenty of factual information.  Although the tone of the video is a bit serious and focuses on the severity and destructive nature of earthquakes, it is a good introduction to the concepts and science behind earthquakes.  The imagery shown in the video will enhance visual learners ability to grasp the geological concepts presented.

Kid Scoop Special Report: Earthquake in Haiti 

  This website gives students a current event experience with earthquakes.  There are several other resources on this site to accompany the actual story of what happened including ways kids can help raise money and awareness.  Hopefully the links and suggestions on this site will further a student’s knowledge, understanding, and questioning about the topic of earthquakes as well as the human condition/social awareness.

Plate Tectonics Activity

An interactive model of the different ways tectonic plates move, this will help students visualize the effects of earth movement.  By actually moving the the earth themselves, students are much more interactively involved in the scientific concept of plate tectonics.  Also, this activity gives students an idea of the spacial-relations involved with earthquakes by appealing to their senses of touch, sight, and using motor skills/hand-eye coordination.

Earthquake Legends Throughout the World 

From the California Department of Conservation, the California Geological Survey has put together a list of legends that explain the phenomena of earthquakes.  This multicultural list can be used as a cross-curricular tool tying the earth science unit of earthquakes and plate tectonics to the telling of legends and myths in the english department.  Also, there is the multicultural connection that can be made with students who have family connections to one or more of these legends.

California Real Time Earthquakes

What a cool resource!  This map shows a real time map of earthquakes in California, perhaps the most active state in the country.  Students can see the amount and frequency of earthquakes throughout the state and can click on the individual quake to find out more information about each specific occurrence.

Shaken! Earthquake Rocks Central Virginia

This report gives students a localized notion of earthquakes.  Although the information contained within the report is well above elementary level reading and comprehension, this resource is still a useful tool for teachers.  There are good maps for students to explore and some of the information will help to teach about plate tectonics.  By using information that is local to Virginia students, their interest will be piqued and perhaps students will develop more questions from which the teacher could build the learning process around.

Oceans: Physical Characteristics

The ocean is always a fun topic for students to study. In fifth grade, the ocean’s environment is investigated. The resources below focus on the physical characteristics of the ocean (SOL 5.6b). There are sources that highlight salinity, currents, and the depths of the ocean water. These resources are intended to help deepen students’ understanding of the vast ocean and its components.

Text Annotations


Oceans by Seymour Simon is a great book to introduce ocean characteristics to fifth graders. As Simon points out, 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by one big ocean. In the book, the moon’s power over the tides is demystified while different types of waves are explored. Through its beautiful satellite and computer enhanced pictures and kid-friendly text, Oceans is a great resource for students and teachers alike.


Eyewitness Books: Ocean  by Miranda MacQuitty and photographed by Frank Greenaway is an extensive and highly comprehensive look at the ocean and its amazing characteristics. Thirty two subjects are visited in two page layouts, including sea meadows and seabeds. Great explanations about waves, weather, sea temperatures are included with pictures, photos, graphs, and pertinent text. Salinity is addressed while ocean depths are charted out with a colorful simulation graph. As aforementioned this book really examines many aspects of the ocean’s environment. This is a must read.


Oceans by Ann Heinrichs examines the physical characteristics of the ocean.  In this thrity-two page book characteristics such as pressure, depths, currents, and tides are highlighted. Heinrich analyzes these characteristics through a mathematical point of view.  Oceans examines why these characteristics are not only important to the ocean but to the planet as well. Heinrichs combines the explanations of the ocean’s pressure, depths, and currents with the examination of environmental concerns. The reading and comprehension level is appropriate for fifth grade students.


Insiders Ocean (The Insider Series) by Beverly McMillan and John A. Musick. This visually stunning book contains fun ocean factoids. The books is split up into three main categories: A Watery World, Ocean Life, and Exploring the Oceans. The first section is especially important when studying ocean characteristics. This section has spreads on underwater landscapes, ocean in motion, and ocean climates. Readers young and old alike will enjoy both the stunning visuals as well as the interesting information provided.


Did you know that there are mountains under the ocean? Science Files: Oceans by Anita Ganeri anwsers this question and many more relating to the ocean. Everything  from currents to the ocean’s ecosystem is covered by the award-winning author. Ganeri provides bonuses such as a website page as well as an “Amazing facts” page in order to entice students further in their ocean investigation. Within the thirty-two pages, the ocean’s physical characteristics are covered in this dynamic format.

Web Annotations

Current Capers
This BBC interactive website is great for letting students explore the ocean’s currents and the animals who take advantage of those currents. A map with moving currents is shown and the point of the game is to guess where certain animals will go along those currents. It is a fun way to get students to think about how the currents effect ocean animals and their migrations.

Ocean Zones
This site is part of the Extreme Science website. This website will allow students to explore the different zones and depths of the ocean. The depths are split up into four zones: Sunlight, Twilight, Midnight and Deep Sea Trench Zone. The depths (in meters) and the characteristics of each zone are investigated. In the Twilight, Midnight and Deep Sea Trench Zone sections, there are videos to accompany the text and picture visuals. Students will enjoy comparing and contrasting the different depths and exploring the characteristics and creatures that live at each zone.

Motion in the Ocean
This site is apart of the Discover Channel website. “Motion in the Ocean” explores ocean currents (Gulf Stream) while explaining the currents and its effect on salinity and temperature of different parts of the ocean. Along with a great description, a 3D globe is used to show the warm and cool currents as well as displaying temperature through color coding. the globe can be manipulated in order to see different currents at different parts of the globe. Not only is this website extremely helpful in explaining currents but also helps show the co-dependency of the ocean’s physical characteristics.

Ocean: Salinity and other Characteristics
This website offers a great explanation of the salinity of the ocean water. The text might be challenging for some but the information is incredibly useful. At the bottom of each page there is an arrow. This arrow will lead students to explanations about water pressure, temperature and, density. There is also a quiz at the end for students to check their understanding of the information provided within the site.

Climate Kids: What is happening in the ocean?
This NASA kids website allows children to put the oceans characteristics into perspective. This website poses and answers about the oceans Conveyor Belt and salinity and their effects on the plant’s climate. The text is easy to understand while covering the important points in relation to the ocean’s water. The relationship between currents and salinity are also highlighted. This website is a good way to put the ocean water’s characteristics into context.

Additional Resources for Teachers

Ocean Currents Lesson Plan
This website provides a quick lesson plan, including two demonstrations, about the ocean currents. The lesson plan includes currents information pertinent to the demonstrations This lesson plan is appropriate for grades 3-6.

Guide to Oceans
“Guide to Oceans” is a great resource for background information and handouts. The website includes a series of websites concerning ocean water. There is also writing summary handouts about oceans and other related resources links.

Water Temperature
The National Ocean Service Education website has many good sites about the ocean and its physical characteristics. The “Water Temperature” website provides great information about the relationship between temperature of water and oxygen levels. The site also has good animation that simulates how increasing temperature affects the concentration of oxygen in water.

Understanding Density and Salinity Lesson Plan
This is a great lesson plan/ experiment in order to teach fifth graders about density and salinity. This lesson will help students understand that density causes a liquid to be heavier and that dissolved minerals cause the density of the liquid to be greater.


Volcanoes are an intriguing and dangerous part of our world. While most students will never experience first hand the effects of a volcano, books and activities can better help the students to understand the devastating effects a volcano can have and the awesome power they hold. The following books and resources can help deepen a students knowledge about volcanoes from the beginning signs to the aftermath. The books and resources are intended to be used in a 5th grade classroom (SOL 5.7).

Recommended Books:

Magic School Bus Blows Its Top by Joanna Cole and Illustrated by Bruce Degen

 Magic School Bus

Ms. Frizzle and her class dive into another adventure in this book. The class takes a trip underwater into an active volcano where they see first hand all the inner workings of a volcano. After seeing the inside of the volcano, the class erupts with the magma and lava and watches as a new island is formed. The book is full of facts and lively characters that will keep the students engaged as they learn about volcanoes.

Why do Volcanoes Blow Their Tops? by Melvin Berger and Gilda Berger


In this book, students can get answers to the most intriguing questions they may have about volcanoes. The book is in a question and answer format and will entertain students with facts and details about volcanoes while also having full pages of art showing and demonstrating all the answers talked about in the book.

Volcanoes by Seymour Simon


This book while being on a lower reading level for 5th graders , has stunning photographs of volcanoes that will help bring them to life. This is a great material to use as a lead-in to discussions about volcanoes. The text gives accurate and useful information on each page that will capture the attention of the students as they see the pictures of the volcanoes.

Vacation Under the Volcano by Mary Pope Osborne


In this book, Jack and Annie go back in time to save a story from the city of Pompeii just as Mt. Vesuvius starts to erupt. The book while make-believe helps students see the destruction that occurs to areas near volcanoes. The story is very well written and will capture students’ attention from beginning to end.

The Day the World Exploded: The Earthshaking Catastrophe at Krakatoa by Simon Winchester and Jason Chin


This book adapted for children, looks into the destruction that occurred hundreds of years ago when volcano Krakatoa erupted. The book details the signs that the volcano would explode right up to the aftermath of a volcanic explosion including shock waves and tsunamis that reached as far as France.

Recommended Websites for Students:

Volcano Explorer: The Discovery Kids Pompeii website has interactive tools on volcanoes for students to click through. The top three links; global perspective, volcano types and inside a volcano show the volcanoes outside in, allowing students to click through the links and gain valuable information about the inner workings of the volcano. The build your own volcano link allows the students to create their own volcano based on viscosity and gas levels and then watch the type of eruptions these conditions would create.

The Supervolcano Game: The BBC website offers an interactive game that allows students to try and prepare for the eruption of a volcano. The scenario allows students to try and prevent the most amount of damage for the town with limited amount of time and resources. The student can then play out the scenario and see the damage that the volcano creates for the town. At the end of the game, students learn other effective ways to prevent human loss and how well their efforts worked.

Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus Volcano Game: This Scholastic website offers students an interactive game that teaches fun volcano facts while also letting students enjoy a fun filled game. Students will navigate the Magic School Bus through volcanic tubes to try and find a way out of the maze inside the volcano.

Scholastic Volcano Lab: This Scholastic website game is an interactive game in which students are asked general knowledge questions about volcanoes. As the students get correct answers they can see the magma chambers start to move on their own volcano until enough correct answers create an explosion. If the student does not get enough correct answers in a certain amount of time the volcano will fizzle out and not erupt.

Discovery Earth Volcanoes: This Discovery website offers students a chance to click around, read information and see pictures of the top 10 volcanoes in geologic history. Each page has a different volcano on it, and gives students pertinent facts about the volcano itself and the explosion(s) of the past or present. The website also has great pictures of each volcano which offers the students a chance to see the volcano when it is not erupting.

Additional Teacher Resources:

Volcanoes: Natures Explosive Spectacles! This Education World website has tons of ideas for teachers when teaching a volcano unit. It lists classroom activities as well as worksheets and ideas for teaching volcanoes from how they form, to inside the volcano, to types of eruptions. The website also integrates other subjects like math and reading into the lesson plans.

Volcano Web cams This website is a great resource for teachers, it has pictures of eruptions as well as links for web cams in active volcanoes and volcanoes located in the United States.

Volcano Classroom Activities and Lesson Plans This website has many links for interactive classroom ideas on volcanoes especially from websites such as the Smithsonian Institute and USGS (US Geological Survey); its also has ideas for classroom activities involving volcanoes and notable volcanoes that are currently in the news.

Volcano World This website comes from Oregon State University where they have complied lesson plans, virtual tours of volcanoes, volcano model ideas, FAQ’s, volcano factoids and maps of volcanoes to help students further explore volcanoes.

Under the Sea… Teaching Ocean Ecology

The resources listed below are great to use in a 5th grade classroom for a unit on ecological characteristics of the ocean (VA Science SOL 5.6).  You will find appropriate children's literature related to the ocean environment, websites for students to explore as well as websites for teachers and parents to supplement teaching about ocean ecology.

Recommended children's books:

Ocean Seasons by Ron Hirschi, Illustrated by Kirsten Carlson

 Ocean Seasons

This beautifully illustrated book focuses on the seasonal changes in marine life in the Pacific Ocean.  The back of the book includes food web cards on each of the plants and animals mentioned throughout the book, serving as a great resource for teaching about ocean food webs and predator and prey relationships.  These cards and additional resources for teaching with this book can be downloaded from the Ocean Seasons homepage.

Prowling the Seas: Exploring the Hidden World of Ocean Predators by Pamela S. Turner

Prowling the Seas

This book presents research done by the Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) Project, an organization created in 2000 by a group of scientists to study ocean predators and find ways to save them.  The book focuses on four species studies by the TOPP project: loggerhead turtles, great white sharks, bluefin tuna, and sooty shearwater seabirds.  Click here for more information on the author, Pamela S. Turner, as well as video clips on the TOPP project.

The Magic School Bus On the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole, Illustrated by Bruce Degen

Magic School Bus On  the Ocean Floor

This book from the popular Magic School Bus series is filled with a wealth of information on the ocean and the creatures that live in it.  Mrs. Frizzle and her class explore the various levels of the ocean floor and the different plant and animal life first hand as their school bus transforms into a submarine.  The illustrations are filled with facts and labeled wildlife, providing great information in an entertaining and exciting fashion.

Down Down Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins

  Down Down Down

Caldecott honoree Steve Jenkins uses his beautiful paper collage illustrations to provide a top to bottom look at the ocean, from surface to the sea floor.  Jenkins does a great job of explaining the many ocean ecosystems with kid-friendly text and labeled illustrations to help the reader identify the different forms of marine life.  The back of the book contains more information about the animals in the book including diagrams to show the size of each of the creatures compared to an adult human’s body or hand.

Eye Wonder: Ocean by Samantha Gray


This book from the Eye Wonder series focuses on the different plant and animal life in the ocean.  Beautiful photographs and information on various marine life is presented in an way that is appealing and easy to understand.  A glossary of important ocean vocabulary and an animal alphabet is included in the back of the book for quick reference.

Websites for students:

OLogy: The Museum’s Science Website for Kids – This site is a great way for students to learn more about marine biology.  It includes online games, directions for hands-on experiments, and much more!

Ocean Life & Ecosystems: Ocean Portal by the Smithsonian Institute – This site contains feature stories on various ocean life and ecosystems such as the great white shark and coral reefs in addition to an “Encylopedia of Life” which specific information on a wide variety of marine plants and animals.

Gould League: Food Webs –  This website is a great way for students to explore the plants and animals that make up the marine food chain, from the producers to the herbivores to the carnivores.

Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures – This site provides several interactive web games for kids to further examine marine life and the role certain species play in the ocean ecosystem.

National Geographic: Great Barrier Reef – This site provides students the opportunity to explore the virtual word of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Additional Resources for Teachers and Parents:

Ocean Planet: Interdisciplinary Marine Science Activities – This site from the Smithsonian contains ideas for lesson plans on a variety of ocean topics including  “Sea Connections,” which looks at plants and animals that live in different marine ecosystems.

Scholastic Explorers: Ocean Life – This Scholastic site provides detailed instruction and resources for planning lessons on the impact of human activities on sea turtles of Costa Rica and dolphins in New Zealand.

SeaWorld: Just for Teachers – This is a great site with a wealth of materials and resources for teachers on various marine life including sharks, whales, seals, penguins and endangered species.

Treasures@Sea: Exploring the Ocean through Literature –  This website includes a variety of book, writing, art and other interactive activities relating to the study of oceans.

Weather Phenomena and Forecasting

While weather is introduced in 2nd grade, (VA Sci. SOL 2.6) it is further investigated in 4th grade (VA Sci. SOL 4.6). Students focus on weather conditions and a more technical understanding of tools and methods of weather forecasting and weather phenomena. Students also learn about weather measurements and meteorological tools. The resources below are intended to activate prior knowledge and create interest in the topic of weather. They are aimed at 4th grade students.

Text Annotations-
gail gibbons
Weather Forecasting
by Gail Gibbons
This book takes place at a weather station. As times passes and the seasons change, the weather station records the weather and encounters different weather phenomena. This is a good informative book on the topic of weather and gives the reader new scientific vocabulary. The pictures are also colorful and appealing to the eye.

The Kids’ Book of Weather Forecasting
by Mark Breen & Kathleen Friesta, Illustrated by Michael Kline
This book is from the Kids Can series. It offers hands on experiments, observations, activities that children can do. It is written by a meteorologist and offers insight into weather forecasting and phenomena. This is a great good book with lots of real hands on things students can do to learn about weather.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
by Judi Barrett, Illustrated by Ron Barrett
The weather was different in the tiny town of Chewandswallow. It rained soup and juice, snowed mashed potatoes, and the wind blew storms of hamburgers. Life was delicious until the weather took a turn for the worse. This book does a great job of introducing the concept of weather phenomena and makes a fun and silly read-aloud for the class.

The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane
by Joanna Cole, Illustrated by Bruce Degen
With Mrs. Frizzle, the whole class, and help from the Magic School Bus, you journey inside a hurricane. You are able to see water droplets forming rain and storm fronts converging. Students also learn to be prepared and what to do if a storm happens in their area. This is a great book for students to read and investigate weather further.

cat in the hat
Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today?
by Tish Rabe, Illustrated by Aristides Ruiz
Along with The Cat in the Hat, the reader travels through different weather phenomena, learning new things about them along the way. This book has great pictures and a rhyming text in the Dr. Seuss style. This would make a great read-aloud for the whole class.

Web Annotations-
The Weather Wizard from National Geographic
This is an interactive game where students are in the driver’s seat of a storm chase vehicle. They answer questions and each correct answer bring them closer and closer to the tornado.

The Scholastic Interactive Weather Maker
This is an interactive flash program where students decide the weather for the day. They are able to change conditions and create weather phenomenons such as blizzards, tornadoes, and thunderstorms.

Create your own Hurricane
In this program students are in the create-a-cane lab where they are able to choose wind speed, latitude, and moisture levels to create a hurricane.

Edheads Weather Activities
This website has different activities where students can report and predict the weather. There is also a link to a very informative weather glossary.

Web Weather for Kids- Clouds
This site provides a good overview on the types of clouds. There is a description of each type of cloud and it shows real pictures as examples. There is also an interactive game where you match the type of cloud to the picture.

Teacher Resources-
The Franklin Institute Weather Activities
This website has a wealth of information on teaching Science. It has a list of interactive weather activities including making your own weather and musical meteorology.

Web Weather for Kids Teacher’s Tips
This site is from Web Weather for Kids. There are tips, suggestions, and lesson plans on teaching weather in the classroom.

The Weather Channel Kids Teacher Resources
This comes from the Weather Channel for Kids website. There are links to lesson plans and activities for students to further explore weather.

Scholastic Weather Watch
This is an interactive website with articles, video, and research on severe weather. There are links where you are able to follow steps to observe, gather data, investigate, and analyze weather.

Weather and Seasonal Changes

The topic covered here is weather and seasonal changes. Content to be covered includes the changes and extremes in weather, how weather influences human and animal activity, identification of common weather phenomena, and seasonal changes and how they influence human and animal activity (VA Science SOL 2.6, 2.7). The resources in this post are directed at second grade students.

Below are some books that can either be read to students, or provided for students to read, as a supplement to weather and seasonal changes lessons.

rainfrogs.jpg  Can it Really Rain Frogs? The World’s Strangest Weather Events, by Spencer Christian and Antonia Felix.Illustrated by Abe Blashko and Jessica Wolk-Stanley. This book provides information about interesting and strange weather occurrences. It covers topics such as thunder and lightening, winds, clouds, rain, and how animals respond to weather. There are also experiment examples that could be used in class.

The Nature and Science of Spring, by Jane Burton and Kim Taylor.  This book is part of the Exploring the Science of Nature series. This book completely focuses on Spring, and covers topics such as melting ice, spring rains, buds and flowers, lengthening days, and animal reactions, such as coming out of hibernation. This book has fantastic photography, and also includes a glossary and example activities and suggestions of other books to read on this topic.

winter.jpg  The Nature and Science of Winter, by Jane Burton and Kim Taylor. This is another book in the Exploring the Science of Nature series, focusing on Winter. This book covers topics such as snow, ice, dormant buds, insects and cold-blooded animal habits during winter, and winter flowers. More great photographs here, as well as activity examples, additional books to read, and a glossary.

The Nature and Science of Summer, by Jane Burton and Kim Taylor. Also part of the Exploring the Science of Nature series. This book focuses on Summer, and includes topics such as dew, droughts, summer scents and colors, and animal behaviors. Excellent photography, as well as example activities, a glossary, and list of related books to read.

seasons.gif  Seasons, by Paul P. and Diane M. Sipiera. This book gives a detailed look at the Earth’s four seasons. Topics covered include understanding the time, what makes a season, changes during seasons, and seasons on other planets. The book has many photographs and diagrams, and also includes a section suggesting additional books and online resources and organizations to check out for more information.

Web Resources:

Below are some great websites for kids to visit to enhance their learning on this topic.

Fossweb Air and Weather Module. Here students can play a game relating to seasonal weather changes. They will select appropriate clothing for an animated bear based on the temperature displayed on the thermometer.

Primary Games: The Four Seasons. Here, students can select one a season and select from a variety of crafts, coloring pages, and games. Examples include mazes, matching games, word search, and puzzles.

Sheppard Software: The Seasons-Games and Activities for Kids. This website also allows children to select a season and choose from a variety of activities, including matching games, seek and finds, and coloring pages.  There is also a computerized paint program that allows students to paint season-related images however they choose, and print them to display.

Earth TV. This website has streaming video of various locations around the world.  I thought it could be valuable and interesting to show students video of a place that would be experiencing the opposite season that we are currently in. For example, you could show students video of Australia or New Zealand and have students observe how their weather is different from ours.

The Weather Channel Kids. This is a branch of the Weather Channel’s website, aimed specifically at kids. Students can get local forecasts, learn about weather careers, visit an online glossary and encyclopedia about weather, and play a variety of games. Games include jigsaw puzzles, mazes, seek and finds, and word search. There is also a portion of the website where students can watch a video clip on hurricanes.

Resources for Teachers:

Below are some additional teacher resources.

Scholastic: Haystack Lesson Plan. Here is a neat lesson plan idea that allow students to see changes grass goes through as the seasons change.

Scholastic: Printables.  Here is a Four Seasons activity printable. This activity asks that students circle the appropriate season based on a short statement, such as “leaves turn red, orange, and yellow” or “some animals hibernate.”

Earthquake Activity from Here is a neat activity that shows students how earth moves and can damage buildings during an earthquake. A pan of Jell-O (made ahead of class) is used, and the pan is tapped to demonstrate an earthquake. Sugar cubes are used to represent buildings. Students can see how the Jello-O shakes and moves when tapped, and see what happens to the sugar cube buildings. Students can have the Jello-O as a treat once activity is finished!

Four Seasons Lesson Plan Idea, from the Lesson Plan Page.  This activity involves reading students a story about the four seasons, and then having them sort pictures representing the seasons. Students will then use the images to make a foldable.

The Structure of Our Earth

See Inside Planet Earth - Usborne Flap Book

The surface of our Earth in in constant flux. Its slow and ceaseless shifting can be understood by investigating snapshots of the Earth’s history through rock and fossil evidence. These pictures illuminate the story of Earth’s ever-changing ‘skin’ from the effects of volcanoes, earthquakes, weathering and erosion. Fifth grade students (VA SOL 5.7) will discover the energy deep within the Earth that powers the tectonic plates and the effect it has on life above Earth’s crust. 


DK Guide to Savage Earth  Hawaiian Giants  Page 25 from DK Guide to Savage Earth

DK Guide to Savage Earth
by Tevor Day, A Dorling Kindersley (DK) Book
DK Guides are known for their stunning photographs. This book is no exception. It is a great introduction to the Earth’s structure and plate tectonics covering such issues as Moving Continents, Volcanoes, Making Mountains, Earthquakes, Weathering and Erosion in two-page spreads of amazing photographs and illustrations. This guide provides excellent definitions of scientific concepts and pairs them with perfect visuals for the contemporary student.


How Mountains are Made   Swimming with the Ammonites   Volcanic Mountains

How Mountains are Made, Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science
written by Kathleen Zoehfeld and illustrated by James Hale
The best way to describe this book is ‘kid-friendly’. It starts out like a story of four friends climbing a small mountain near their home. Once the friends find fossilized remains of sealife, the real story begins. The friends take turns explaining the science behind how the ammonite they found ended up at the top of a mountain range. The simple, yet accurate illustrations, guide the reader through the various ways mountains are formed.


Erosion  Erosion in Kenya  

Erosion: How Land Forms, How Land Changes
by Darlene Stille
This publication is beautifully designed. The pleasing layout allows this smallish book to really have an impact. It is well written and offers straightforward explanations on the erosion process with emphasis on water, wind, and glaciers. Not only does this book possess a ‘Fast Fact’ feature focusing on information bites, it also has a section on fossils and erosion, erosion on Mars, and a discussion on the appropriateness of controlling erosion. Darlene Stille has written a series of books designed like Erosion that include Plate Tectonics, Soil, Waves, and Minerals which may also prove pertinent to the Earth structure unit of study.


Voyage to the Volcano  magicschoolbussm.jpg

Voyage to the Volcano, a Magic School Bus Chapter Book
written by  Judith Stamper and illustrated by John Speirs
The beloved Ms. Frizzle takes her class on a hot spot field trip to the Ring of Fire. The class teams up with a fictitious volcanologist to help them get the most out of their Kilauean tour while real life professor, Ken Rubin, from the Hawaii Center for Volcanology assisted in reviewing the text for this chapter book. Voyage to the Volcano features class notes, memos from Ms. Frizzle, and facts from the volcanologist’s files interspersed throughout the text that help clarify what the class is experiencing on their journey. Undoubtedly, this book can be a fantastic tie in with Language Arts SOLs.


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Our Patchwork Planet
by Helen Sattler and Giulio Maestro
This book is a great introduction to plate tectonics and illustrates the subject well. It focuses on the drifting plates with a brief discussion on scientists’ ability to reconstruct the Earth’s history using fossil evidence. The last chapter of the book emphasizes how humans are adapting to live with the fluctuating changes of our Earth. This book is unique in that it features a couple of illustrations on active mass dampers and active tendon systems currently used in skyscrapers to “neutralize the effects of high winds or earthquakes”. This type of insight will give students an idea of the changes humans can make to  survive earthquakes.


therockcycle_homesm.jpg  The Rock Cycle  therockcycle_weatherossm.jpg
Rock Cycle
          This website explains the rock cycle like a self-guided tour dotted with ‘hands-on’ activities. Well-placed animations and explanations help illustrate complex concepts as the student learns the three basic types of rock and how they got that way. The site concludes with a brief quiz to test your newfound knowledge. It asks fifteen thought-provoking, multiple-choice questions and gives instant answers. The quizzes can be printed and are complete with the correct answer, a link to where the information was initially explained, and the coordinating visuals originally presented during the test.


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The Adventures of Mineral Man and His Rock Hound
          This site€”although a little rough around the edges€”is appealing in that it was designed by elementary school students. Mineral Man and Rock Hound appear on the home page and encourage users to journey with them as they learn rock secrets. Students will get an overview of how rocks are ‘born’, an introduction to geological time and fossils, and a guide to identifying rocks among other things. The home page include links to further resources, word searches, crossword puzzles, a quick vocabulary list, and a field trip narrative and photographs. The text is well written and relevant to upper elementary students. This simple website will inspire your own students to design a comprehensive class website on geology, or any other topic for that matter.


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This site allows students to choose from one of four different missions (astronomy, atmospheric science, geology, or biology).  Throughout the geology mission, the site compares and contrasts Earth with Venus and Mars and poses the age-old question: what is it about Earth that supports life? Students who take a geology mission will choose a role (volcanologist, structural geologist, geomorphologist, or geophysicist), form a hypothesis, analyze data, and decide if Venus or Mars is inhabitable based on their geologic features.


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Dynamic Earth
This site has incredible graphics (see above) that really showcase what the Internet can do for understanding science. The animations and  easy-to-understand information provide the perfect add-on to classroom lesson plans. This interactive site also offers an assessment that can be scored and printed.


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There are six very relevant interactives on this site for kids. They include exploring the Earth’s surface, examining plate tectonics, exploring the rock cycle, determining what the earth is made of, playing games to understand heat and pressure, and studying the different spheres inside the Earth.

Additional Resources for Teachers

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My Science Box
This website is an incredible resource for science teaching. The particular lesson plan (shown above) is but one example of the high-quality activities found on this site. In this lesson, students will create their own sedimentary layers in plastic cups€”hardly a new concept€”but the difference is in the way this website offers the lesson plan itself. It presents the lesson setup, logistics, background information, play-by-play plan, and then the followup assessment with additional citations of sources and standards. It’s a nice, tidy little package of Lesson.

Plate Tectonic Game ShowPlate Tectonics Game Show
by Joe E. Hart
This Jeopardy-style game show is great quizzer, set up to accommodate 2 teams. Questions range from easy (100 points) to more difficult (500 points) in categories like ocean, earthquakes, volcanoes, plates, and ‘inside story’.  A big plus is that this game, led by a teacher, alternates questioning between the two teams to alleviate the possibility of one team dominating the game.

Wegener's Plates Wegener€”Continental Drift 
This animated resource is the quintessential component on continental drift. Features include cursor rollovers that provide the name of the land masses and a click-and-drag opportunity to put the Pangaea puzzle back together. The website from which this animation was taken also includes a Bullard Fit of Continents animation that depicts the more exact-fit of the continental shelves of Africa, North and South America, and Europe.



Math and Science Innovation Center
Our very own Math and Science Innovation Center is an excellent resource. In the Biology, Earth & Environmental Sciences cluster under The Changing Earth, teachers are provided an entire lesson plan that will either enhance what students have learned during a field trip to the center or offer ideas for engaging students right in the classroom.

Volcano Videos

Volcano Lava
This short video (1:12) shows dramatic footage of pahoehoe and aa lava flows; a good eye-catching way to start a unit on plate tectonics. The soundtrack features appropriate instrumental music that enhances the striking phenomena. You can more videos on volcanoes at the National Geographic Website.


Volcano 101
This video (3:04) features a brief introduction to the creative and destructive nature of volcanoes. Footage includes basic information about volcanoes (e.g., 1500 active around the world with 90 percent in the ring of fire). It also highlights shield versus composite volcanoes explaining the gentle lava flows of one and the dangerous eruptive forces of the latter. It is important to know tht there is a few seconds of footage that shows ash-covered bodies of the Mt. Vesuvius eruption of Pompeii in 79 A.D. All in all, this video would be an excellent unit-summation clip. The narrator speaks very quickly and uses vocabulary that students should know before watching. The video concludes with a brief explanation of how important volcanoes are to us (e.g., created 80 percent of the Earth’s surface and the air we breathe).

Teaching Earth Science Through Children’s Literature: The Cloud Book

The cloud book The Cloud Book written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola introduces children to the ten most common types of clouds, what weather will likely occur based on the formation of the clouds, and myths inspired by different cloud shapes.  This book mixes fact and fiction to teach the science of cloud formation is a way that children will both understand and enjoy.The Cloud Book integrates science into reading. The illustrations and text are comical, so it captures children's attention and is fun for adults to read as well.  To finish off an already fun book, dePaola concludes with "Very Silly Cloud Story," further demonstrating the authors talent to attract audiences of all ages.Curriculum ConnectionsWhile being a comic and fun book to read, The Cloud Book introduces children to both the types of clouds we observe in the sky and also types of weather (K.6a).  Of course, first the book tells how clouds are formed, through evaporation, which is caused by the warmth of the sun (1.6), condensation which forms the clouds which in turn leads to precipitation (3.9b).Additional Resources

  • Weather WizKids a childrens site from the ABC station from Indianapolis, IN, it provides an excellent link to clouds.  It has information on formation color, height in the atmosphere, type, and much more.  It also includes actual pictures of each cloud formation, lesson plans on clouds for teachers and experiments that can be done in the classroom.  Plus it also provides useful information on other types of weather, such as tornados and volcanos.
  • Web Weather for Kids provides an experiment where students will create a cloud in a portable cloud in a jar.  It also explains what children should see when they do the experiment as well as explains why the phenomena occurs.
  • Weatherworks provides students with the opportunity to have an ongoing observation of the different colors and cloud types in the sky.  Students predict what they will observe most then everyday for a month students observe the sky to see what cloud formations they can find.

 General Information

  • Book: The Cloud Book
  • Author/ Illustrator:  Tomie dePaola
  • Publisher: Holiday House
  • Publication Date:1984
  • Pages:32
  • Grade range:  K to 3rd grade
  • ISBN: 0823405311

Teaching Earth Science with Children’s Literature: Don’t Know Much About the Solar System



Don’t Know Much About the Solar System, written by  Kenneth C. Davis and illustrated by Pedro Martin, is an informative children’s book filled with interesting facts and cartoonlike pictures.  Motivated middle and upper elementary students might read this book from cover to cover while others might choose to explore only the pages that are most interesting to them.   Each two-page spread contains a title and then several related questions.  Each question is followed by an answer and explanation.  Some of the questions and answers are humorous.  The pages are generally lighthearted but factual.  Topics covered include galaxies, solar system, gravity, planets, stars, meteors, space exploration, and an introduction to a few of the scientists who have contributed to our space knowledge.

Curriculum Connections

This book can be used to teach about the solar system and the planets in Fourth Grade (SOL 4.7).  The pictures show the orbits of the planets in the solar system.  Most of the planets are described within a two-page spread complete with illustrations.

Additional Resources

For audio learners, listen to the planet rap song.

Allow students to explore kid friendly websites for additional solar system facts.

Create a solar system simulation in your classroom.

General Information

Book:  Don’t Know Much About the Solar System
Author:  Kenneth C. Davis
Illustrator:  Pedro Martin
Publisher:  Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date:  2001
Pages:  47
Grade Range:  3rd-6th
ISBN:  0-439-43852-7