Atmosphere Teaching Ideas – Weather Activities for Kids

Looking for atmosphere teaching ideas? Before exploring interactions between Earth’s spheres, review weather and climate. First, let kids observe patterns. Afterward, they can explore patterns. This launches into the study of climate. Then, finally, they’re ready to consider how the hydrosphere, geosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere affect one another.

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Mr. Grow Reviews the Atmosphere

Our favorite fifth grade teacher sat at the side table with his co-teacher. “Today, we’ll continue planning earth science. Let’s take a look at that standard on Earth’s spheres again,” he said. Then he read it aloud:

NGSS 5-ESS2-1 Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.

“Hmm,” said Mrs. Washington. “I know our kids studied weather and climate in third grade. But that was a long time ago. Therefore, I think they need some review.”

Mr. Grow nodded. “What kind of atmosphere teaching ideas do you have in mind?”

Observing Weather in the Atmosphere

“First,” said Mrs. Washington, “I’d like to set up a weather station in my classroom. That way, kids can get a real-life review of elements: temperature, precipitation, wind, humidity, pressure, and clouds.”

“I like that atmosphere teaching idea,” said Mr. Grow. “Although all of the daily information can be found on the Internet, I think I’d like my kids to measure temperature with an actual thermometer.”

He walked over to his science cabinet and opened the door. After rummaging around a bit, he found what he was looking for. “Here it is. My old outdoor thermometer. After I dust it off, I’ll just suction it to the outside of the window.”

Mrs. Washington chuckled. “Nothing like old tech,” she said.

Atmosphere teaching ideas begin with the weather. When fifth grade students understand temperature, precipitation, wind, humidity, pressure, and clouds, they're ready to explore interactions between Earth's spheres.
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Exploring Patterns

“From there,” Mrs. Washington continued, “they’ll look at weather patterns. In addition to patterns they observe, I’d like them to read weather maps. From them, they’ll be able to see how air masses move.”

“That’s a great idea. I’m in. We can review fronts, high and low pressure, etc. Then we can access some actual weather maps from the NOAA.”

For more atmosphere teaching ideas, let kids explore patterns with weather maps.

Understanding What Affects Climate – Latitude, Mountains, Oceans, and the Atmosphere

“After that, they’ll be ready to tackle climate. Specifically, I want to review basic climate zones.”

“You mean the zones created by latitude?”

“Right. You know – arctic, temperate, and tropical. However, I’d like to spend a little more time on other factors: mountains, oceans, and movement of the atmosphere.”

Mr. Grow grinned. “You’ve really thought this out! By the time we get to climate, our kids are already exploring interactions between the spheres.”

Fifth graders need to know that latitude is the biggest influencer of climate. However, other factors like mountains, oceans, and the atmosphere also affect it.

Analyzing Interactions Between Earth’s Spheres

“Um-hm,” Mrs. Washington responded. She pulled out a set of worksheets. “Then I think they’ll be ready to analyze interactions between Earth’s spheres. Each one asks kids to consider an event. Then they have to name the sphere that caused it, as well as the sphere that was affected. And, in most cases, they can even consider chain reactions.”

Mr. Grow looked at the top sheet in the stack. “I see. The event here is a volcanic eruption. Although it originated in the geosphere, the atmosphere is affected.”

“Right, and that can affect the biosphere. For example, the carbon dioxide emitted by the volcano can now be used for photosynthesis.”

Mr. Grow looked up and grinned. “I love this integrated approach. Kids will be able to see connections between processes occurring everywhere on Earth.”

In this activity, kids consider which of Earth's spheres interact when a volcano releases carbon dioxide into the air. Here, atmosphere teaching ideas show how it interacts with the geosphere.

Enjoy Teaching the Atmosphere

Mr. Grow pulled out his plan book. “Let’s pencil in our lesson plans,” he said. “I can’t wait to get started on this. Great activities like this make me enjoy teaching even more.”

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