What our Climate Change lesson plan includes
Lesson Objectives and Overview: Climate Change teaches students how this phenomenon affects the weather patterns of different areas. Students will learn that climate and weather are actually two different concepts. The weather can change every day while the overall climate measures the average conditions of an area over a long period of time. Students will discover some causes and effects of climate change and be able to define it correctly. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.
Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. This lesson requires no additional supplies apart from copies of the handouts for students.
Options for Lesson
There is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions to the ones already in the lesson. Several of the options relate to the activity portion of the lesson plan. One idea is to set a timer for each discussion question. You could also add discussion questions to extend the activity. Another idea is to hold a debate for each question after students finish writing their responses. Another option is to discuss whether information that relates to climate change from the Internet is backed by research or is simply opinion based. One more option is to ask students to write a story about what life would be like without fossil fuels in the world.
The teacher notes page adds an extra paragraph of information or guidance as you prepare the lesson. It explains that even though the subject matter of the lesson is often controversial, the lesson provides the facts. It explains that there is a debate on the topic, and the lesson plan provides students an opportunity to debate information themselves. Use the blank lines on this page to write down any other ideas or thoughts you have regarding the lesson.
CLIMATE CHANGE LESSON PLAN CONTENT PAGES
Weather vs. Climate
The Climate Change lesson plan contains four pages of content. The lesson starts off by describing the difference between weather and climate. The weather in an area changes day by day and even hour by hour. Climate, on the other hand, does not change easily or quickly. It usually takes hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years to change, even in a small degree.
The climate of the earth is not uniform. Different places have different climates, just like they have different weather patterns. Some areas consist of hot, dry deserts, others have wet rainforests, and others have mountains where it’s cold all year long. People often associate climate change with global warming because they are referring to the process by which the earth is heating up. While people generally agree when it comes to weather, they don’t always agree with each other regarding climate change or global warming.
Students will learn that scientists believe the earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Throughout that time, the climate changed quite often. A large percentage of the earth was covered in ice during the Ice Age. Dinosaurs used to roam all over the earth’s surface. Many other changes occurred in the last 4.5 billion years, and the earth continues to change.
Scientists have proven that the average temperature of the earth increased by about 1.33°F over the past 100 years. In the last 200 years, it increased by a total of 1.8°F. While this seems like a small number, it does influence the earth. The reason is that the earth is like a greenhouse that absorbs heat from the sun, retaining the heat due to greenhouse gases. The lesson explains this concept by comparing greenhouse gases to blankets.
Causes and Effects
Students will next learn about what causes the climate to change and how these changes affect the earth. Human behavior is the greatest factor causing the changes in the earth’s climate. Burning fossil fuels, for instance, releases certain gases into the atmosphere, creating a warm “blanket” that covers the earth.
Methane emissions also play a role. NASA found that the release of methane gas into the atmosphere has increased rapidly since the beginning of industrialization and large agriculture. Methane is responsible for about 23% of climate change. Nearly 30% of the methane released into the air comes from wetlands. Another 30% results from fossil fuels, and roughly 20% comes from agriculture.
Deforestation is another issue as well. One of the greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide, which trees and forests throughout the world absorb and then release oxygen. When people cut down too many trees to make way for farms, roads, and other things, there is more carbon dioxide that contributes to the greenhouse effect and a thicker “blanket” in the atmosphere.
The problem with these factors is that many people rely on these processes. They process oil to make gas for cars, burn coal to produce electricity, and use natural gas to heat houses and cook. Farming is very important, providing milk and meat from the cows. People use the trees they cut down to make furniture, homes, and other structures.
Students will also discover some of the issues with a warmer climate. For instance, it could lead to heavy precipitation, unusual season changes, heat waves, and more. Polar animals’ natural habitats have started to melt. Orangutans who live in rainforests are losing their homes, and sea turtles are losing their nesting beaches due to rising sea levels.
Preventing Climate Change
The lesson discusses ways to help prevent or lessen the negative effects of a warmer climate. Instead of driving places, we could walk more often. Along the same lines, we could carpool, bike, or use public transportation to lessen the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the air when driving. When we aren’t using our electronics, we should turn them off. When we leave a room, we don’t need to keep the lights on.
Another idea is to grow more trees. Because deforestation eliminates lots of trees, it is helpful to plant some more in their place. Other ideas include recycling, reducing, and reusing products. Even closing the blinds on a hot day helps reduce the amount of heat entering a room and thus the amount of cool air it takes to cool it off.
Regardless of where people stand on the issue of global warming, doing the things in the prevention list is a good idea for anyone. It is logical to use less energy, not litter, walk or bike instead of drive, and so on. It’s also healthier!
Here is a list of the vocabulary words students will learn in this lesson plan:
- Weather: the day-to-day conditions and temperature of a specific place
- Climate: the average temperature and conditions in a specific place over a long period of time
- Global warming: the process by which the earth slowly heats up
- Greenhouse: a glass structure that absorbs the heat from the sun that farmers, florists, and others use to grow plants
- Greenhouse effect: the retention of the sun’s warmth in the earth’s lower atmosphere by greenhouse gases
- Fossil fuels: the natural fuels found in and on the earth, such as oil, coal, and natural gas
CLIMATE CHANGE LESSON PLAN WORKSHEETS
The Climate Change lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each of these handouts will help students solidify their grasp on the content. The guide on the classroom procedure page outlines when to hand out each of the worksheets to the class.
DISCUSSION GROUP ACTIVITY WORKSHEET
You will divide students into groups for the activity. Students will read five statements that relate to climate change. After each one, they will discuss with their group whether they agree or disagree with the statement. They may disagree with each other. In the space below each statement, they will write a response that includes only their own opinion.
CLIMATE CHANGE PRACTICE WORKSHEET
There are a few sections of the practice worksheet. The first section requires students to match descriptions to the correct term from the word bank. There are 10 statements in this section. The next part requires them to answer five open-ended questions. Finally, they will tell whether each of five statements is true (T) or false (F).
REVIEW HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
The homework assignment also has two sections. The first part requires students to match questions with the correct responses. There are five questions and responses to match in this section. For the second section, students will respond to five more prompts based on what they learned from the lesson.
Worksheet Answer Keys
The final pages of the lesson plan are answer keys for the practice and homework worksheets. For the most part, the pages provide the answer in red. Students’ responses on the practice worksheet should essentially mirror the answer on the answer key. The second section of the homework assignment, however, may include some variation. The final question especially leaves room for individual interpretation, so students’ answers will likely vary. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.