Grade Level: 5 Unit Title

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Grade 5

Goal 3
Weather and Climate


Carla Billups

Michelle Ellis

Jeff Long

  1. Grade Level: 5

  1. Unit Title: Weather and Climate

  1. Unit Length: 7 Weeks

  1. Major Unit Goal/Learning Outcomes:

The learner will be able to:

  • construct a water cycle including evaporation, condensation, precipitation and run-off

  • identify the factors which affect predicable weather patterns

  • compare how factors affect predicable weather patterns

  • compare and contrast the various cloud types, including how they are related to weather systems

  • share how global atmospheric patterns affect weather

  • collect weather data and identify trends in the data

  • explain how geographic affects climate and weather

  1. Objective Chart and RBT tags

Unit Title: Weather

Number of Weeks: 7


Competency or Objective



Investigate the water cycle including the processes of:

  • Evaporation

  • Condensation

  • Precipitation

  • Run-Off



Discuss and determine how the following are affected by predictable patterns of weather:

  • Temperature

  • Wind direction and speed

  • Precipitation

  • Cloud cover

  • Air pressure



Describe and analyze the formation of various types of clouds and discuss their relation to weather systems.



Explain how global atmospheric movement patterns affect local weather.



Compile and use weather data to establish a climate record and reveal any trends.



Discuss and determine the influence of geography on weather and climate:

  • Mountains

  • Sea breezes

  • Water bodies


  1. ELD/EC

  1. Materials/Equipment


Options based on presentation choice

  • Microsoft Publisher (excellent alternative website in lesson)

  • Digital Camera/Camcorder

  • Internet Access (or other materials on the water cycle)

  • Paper for publication if not using a computer

  • Newspapers or other sources that feature article writing

  • Teacher created example to engage students

  • Vocabulary sheet

Mini-Water Cycle Materials

  • A large, clear bowl

  • Plastic wrap

  • A small weight

  • A small bathroom drinking cup with a lip on the bottom

  • A rubber-band or piece of string


Options based on presentation choice

  • Microsoft Publisher/PowerPoint

  • Digital Camera/Camcorder

  • Internet Access

  • Tri-Fold presentation boards

  • Teacher created example to engage students

  • General craft supplies to support various products

  • United Streaming Access (if available)

  • Multiple resources for each area of study


  • Ice cube

  • Hot water

  • Clear, clean jar

  • Book: It Looked Like Spilt Milk

  • Pictures of the following cloud types: cirrus, stratus, cumulus, and cumulonimbus [If you choose this option, use a lesson plan variation accordingly.]


  • A PowerPoint on the Gaston County Schools website [Click 3-5 and choose Clouds 2 under Earth Science]


  • At least 3 thermometers; [Suggest: 6 thermometers.]

  • Pictures of a mountain/mountain range, with snow on the caps; ocean, wind effects, land, beach area, urbanization (city and country), etc

  • Completed Weather Data Sheets


  • Video or DVD- An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore

  • Video or DVD player

  • Book: How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate, Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming by Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch

  • One copy of each of the graphs found in the appendix of this lesson

  • Chart paper

  • Markers

  • Glue sticks

  • Colored pencil

  • Kids Page from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change

  • []

  • Science notebook for each student

  • White legal size paper


  • Baking soda

  • Vinegar

  • 500 mL beaker or glass jar of similar size

  • Small votive candle

  • Matches

  • Piece of poster board 12” x 3”

  • Pie pan

  • Clear plastic saucer. [Use a plastic saucer that sit under plants, but do NOT have the concentric rings on the bottom.]

  • Styrofoam cups (4 per group)

  • Hot water source

  • Tap water source

  • Buckets

  • Food coloring

  • Eye dropper (1 per group)

  • Pint jars (2 per group)

  • 3 thermometers

  • 1 stick @ 1.5 meters in length

  • Soil

  • Small shovel for soil

  • Colored pencils or markers

  • Small dishes or jar lids (2 per group)

  • Tablespoons (1 per group)

  • Water

  • Light source (sun or lamp/light) (1 per group)

  • Plastic wrap and or lids to cover dishes

  • Open, clear container, such as a glass baking dish

  • Rocks

  • Paper cup

  • Measuring cup

  • Room-temperature water

  • Computer connected to internet

  • Projector for computer

  • Science notebooks

  • Atlas which contains physical and temperature maps of the United States.

  1. Big Ideas

  • Water, which covers the majority of the earth's surface, circulates through the crust, oceans, and atmosphere in what is known as the "water cycle." Water evaporates from the earth's surface, rises and cools as it moves to higher elevations, condenses as rain or snow, and falls to the surface where it collects in lakes, oceans, soil, and in rocks underground.

  • Water is a solvent. As it passes through the water cycle it dissolves minerals and gases and carries them to the oceans.

  • The atmosphere is a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, and trace gases that include water vapor. The atmosphere has different properties at different elevations.

  • Clouds, formed by the condensation of water vapor, affect weather and climate.

  • Global patterns of atmospheric movement influence local weather. Oceans have a major effect on climate, because water in the oceans holds a large amount of heat.

  • Living organisms have played many roles in the earth system, including affecting the composition of the atmosphere, producing some types of rocks, and contributing to the weathering of rocks.

  1. Unit Notes

Flow chart:

Content Blast:

Weather and climate are typically associated with rain, clouds, storms, wind and temperature. Water is central to the concept of weather and climate. It is considered the universal solvent dissolves more substances than any other liquid. As it goes through the ground or our bodies, it carries valuable chemicals, minerals, and nutrients. Water that is pure has a neutral pH of 7 so it is neither acidic nor basic. It is the only natural substance that is found in all three states, liquid, solid (ice), and gas (steam) at temperatures found on Earth. The water on Earth is constantly interacting, changing and moving.

Water freezes at 32° Fahrenheit and boils at 212° Fahrenheit. When using Celsius, the freezing point of water is 0° and the boiling point is 100°. In solid form, water is less dense than it is in liquid form; that is why it floats. Water has the ability to absorb a lot of heat before increasing its temperature. This ability to absorb heat helps to regulate how air changes temperature. The water’s ability to absorb heat is the reason why the temperature changes gradually rather than suddenly between the seasons.

The water cycle is one of Earth systems which connects to other systems on Earth. While some components of the water cycle are observable, others are not directly observable by students. The water cycle is quite complex and the three step model (evaporation, precipitation, and condensation) is very simplistic and does not accurately portray this complex system. In fifth grade, it is important for students to understand the following parts of the water cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and run-off. The following are all of the parts of the water cycle (most information is from

Evaporation and condensation: These two components of the water cycle are often the most difficult to understand because they are the most abstract components. It is important for students to have concrete, hands-on examples of these two concepts.

Evaporation is the process of water turning from a liquid into a gas or vapor. Most water in the water cycle is evaporated from oceans, the largest bodies of water on Earth. Once water is evaporated, it spends approximately ten days in the air before it falls as precipitation. Ninety percent of the water in the water cycle comes from evaporation.

Condensation is the process in which water is changed from a vapor to a liquid. This process is important to the water cycle because condensation is what is responsible for clouds forming. The clouds may produce precipitation which is the primary way that water returns to the Earth’s surface. Clouds formed from condensation are a crucial part of the Earth’s environment. They regulate radiant energy in and out of the Earth’s climate system. They also influence the Earth’s climate by reflecting solar radiation coming from space and back to space as well as from the Earth’s surface. Clouds act as a blanket at night keeping some of the heat from the day next to the surface.

Runoff: The Ocean acts as a large storage area for water that evaporates into the atmosphere. Oceans are kept full by precipitation and by runoff. Runoff is some of the water that has been released from clouds as precipitation and has fallen to the Earth Runoff is discharge from rivers and the ground. People have an over simplified idea that precipitation falls on the land, flows overland (runoff), and runs into rivers, which then empty into the oceans. Much of river water comes from water runoff from surface of the land, but some river water evaporates and some goes into groundwater.

When rain hits ground that cannot absorb water it begins to flow downhill over the land. During a heavy rain you might notice small rivulets of water flowing downhill just like you will see it flowing down your driveway. Water flows along channels as it moves into larger creeks, streams, and rivers. Eventually the rivers run into the ocean. About a third of the precipitation that falls on land runs off into streams and rivers and is finally returned to the oceans. The rest is evaporated, transpired by plants, or soaks into ground water.

Clouds play a very important role in weather and climate. It is important when discussing clouds to address humidity, wind, temperature, geography, and precipitation. Clouds are a product of condensation in the water cycle. Water vapor cools in the atmosphere (condenses) and forms small droplets of water and oftentimes ice. Clouds have very diverse forms and can be linked to specific weather conditions and predictions without sophisticated equipment. Good sources of information about clouds and their related weather conditions can be found at:



  • The following is a very good tutorial to use with students:

Climate Patterns: Long-term global climate patterns can reach far around the globe to affect the day-to-day weather. For example patterns of air pressure and winds high above the Arctic helped bring the snow that piled up last winter. Cool sea surface temperatures over the central Pacific, known as La Niña, could help increase the number of Atlantic hurricanes in the summer and fall.

These climate patterns are called "oscillations" by meteorologists. These patterns change and fluctuate on time scales ranging from days to decades. With improved technology, have helped meteorologists come to understand many of the most important oscillations.

Interactions between the atmosphere and the oceans are at the core of most of the patterns because the atmosphere and ocean push and pull against one another. When one makes a move, it affects the other. The ocean is much slower to respond to environmental changes than the atmosphere, the two are unequal.

Global warming is very complex. It involves both natural and human-made processes. Water cycles and global climate change is interconnected. Students need to learn about how to understand the system of global warming and the basic scientific concepts that impact it. They also need to know how global warming will impact people along with learning about how the data about global warming causes discrepancies between scientists.

The following lessons on global warming are meant to provide concrete models to illustrate abstract concepts. For more information than can be explained in this content blast some websites have been listed to help the teacher build their own understanding of global climate change.




  1. Global Content

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