Grade: Elementary
Subject: Science

#2019. Climate in Our Back Yard (Pennsylvania)

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Sun Nov 19 10:07:18 PST 2000 by Trent Kissinger (
Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, USA
Materials Required: globe, map of PA, clothing, misc. items, cardboard boxes, poster board, markers
Activity Time: 45 Minutes
Concepts Taught: Weather

Lesson 4: Climate In Our Back Yard


The purpose of this lesson is to make the students aware of the climate they are presently living in and how it affects them every day to fulfill the national teaching standard which states that 3rd grade students will be able to describe specific weather patterns and phenomena. Because of this, the lesson is specific to Pennsylvania. In this lesson the four seasons will be discussed; along with weather phenomena and outdoor activities associated with each season.

Students have sufficient background knowledge of specific weather events such as snow and rain. The students also have basic map reading skills. Finally, the students have knowledge of poster making.


TLW describe major characteristics of the climate and seasons of Pennsylvania and explain its significance to their everyday lives. (UO #5; cognitive and affective)

PI: After a class discussion on the climate of Pennsylvania, students will construct an "A Year in Pennsylvania" poster on which they will creatively describe at least three examples of how the climate they live in shapes their lives during every season of the year. (Individual assessment)


 Globe
 Map of Pennsylvania
 Various articles of clothing including mittens, sunglasses, scarf, heavy coat, and a pair of shorts.
 Miscellaneous items including a football, sunscreen, ice skates, umbrella, and a packet of flower seeds.
 Four large cardboard boxes, each clearly marked with either spring, summer, autumn, or winter.
 Roll of wrapping paper
 Poster board cut into halves (enough for each student in class to have one piece)
 Markers, crayons, colored pencils
 A poster which says "A Year in Pennsylvania" on it. Hang it on an empty wall.


Climate: The long-term pattern of weather in a particular region, including temperatures, rain, snow, and other factors. Day-by-day variations are weather, while climate is the general trend, based on statistical data over a long period of time.

Pennsylvania has four seasons (spring, summer, autumn, and winter) each with specific characteristics that affect our everyday lives due to climate conditions caused by weather.


A. Introduction and Motivation

Before the lesson, place all the clothing and miscellaneous objects on a table in front of the classroom or somewhere else where they are easily seen by everyone. Place the four cardboard boxes at different corners of the room.

Start the lesson by pointing out the items on the table and the boxes found
in each of the corners of the room. Invite a student to come up to the table, pick up an object or article of clothing and place it in the correct box which says the season we would most likely see the object being used. Guide the students through the activity until all the objects are in boxes. Ask four volunteers to bring the boxes to the front of the room. Review what was put in each one of the boxes. Why did we put the sunglasses in the summer box? What are these ice skates doing here in this winter box. . .why can't we put them in the summer box? Acknowledge all answers.

Remove all the boxes from the table EXCEPT the winter box and lay the roll of wrapping paper on top of it. My cousin who lives in Florida is having a birthday and I believe I will wrap up this box and send it to him! Do you think he will like these birthday presents? Respond to all answers. You don't think he will like them, Tyler? But I've had a lot of fun skating on the frozen pond by my house with these skates. . .Don't you think my cousin in Florida would like to do that too? Acknowledge answers. I think sending this package to my cousin who lives in Florida wouldn't be such a good idea; he would have no use for this heavy coat because it does not get really cold all the way in Florida! Although there are a few places of similar climate, in Pennsylvania, we have weather that is different from many other places in the world. Today we are going to talk about weather we see right here where we live and how it effects us every day.

B. Lesson Body

For the past couple of weeks we have discussed several aspects of climate. Like I said earlier, today, we are just going to focus on climate conditions that we see here in Pennsylvania. First, lets review where we are found in the world. Show the globe and point out North America and then Pennsylvania. Show the map of Pennsylvania and then point out the area where you are found. It is important to remember that not every place in the world has the same climate. For example: The weather we see throughout the year here in Pennsylvania is definitely different than here in the deserts of Arizona. Point to Arizona on the globe. Also, the climate in Antarctica is different from ours', too. Point to Antarctica on the globe. Because climate differs from place to place, people in different places must adapt to their specific climate to live a comfortable life.

Break the class into four groups and assign each group a specific season of the year. Groups, now that you all have a different season, try to write down as many things that would describe that season here in Pennsylvania. Remember to include weather, temperature, seasonal activities, etc. Try to be specific: instead of just writing "In Winter it is cold." write "In winter it can get so cold that ponds can freeze. Any questions? Ok, start!

When you believe sufficient time has been given, ask for attention and continue with the lesson. With chalk, divide the blackboard into four equal sections and write one season in each section. As the students read off what characteristics they came up with, write them in the appropriate section of the board. As you discuss each of the seasons, be sure to add the following information:

Many plants begin to grow
Temperatures range from 68 to > 90
Thunderstorms are likely (30 -- 35 a year
Tornadoes (5 --6 annually)
Warm days (66 -- 75 degrees) cool nights
(lows in 40's and 50's)
Temperatures range from 21 -- 48 degrees
in January
Snowfall amounts vary dynamically from
year to year, ranging from 20 -- 90 inches
annually depending on where you are in
the state.

Distribute the poster board and art supplies to the class. To wrap up our discussion on climate here in Pennsylvania, we are going to make an "A Year in Pennsylvania" poster. First, divided your paper into four squares by drawing two lines which cross in the middle. In each of the boxes, write a different season. When I tell you to, fill in your boxes with words, sentences, and drawings that describe that specific season. Try to make this reflect what you like to do during that time of year. For example: in the summer time I like to go swimming; so, I may decide to draw a picture of me swimming in the summer box on my poster. Try to fill each box up with as many things as you can. When you are done, bring you poster over to this wall and we will hang them up under this heading that says "A Year in Pennsylvania".


Student Assessment

Students' understanding of the climate of Pennsylvania and how it effects their everyday lives will be assessed through the "A Year in Pennsylvania" poster which each student will individually make and the level of participation in classroom discussion. Each student must give at lease three examples for each of the four seasons of the year.