Cause of the Seasons Lesson Plan: Understanding Seasons, Day and Night

Submitted by: Barbara Merritt

Grade Levels: K-3

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-3, students use BrainPOP Jr. resources to explore the the cause of the seasons, and of day and night. Students will participate in the making of a class graph showing the hours of day and night in the students’ town and in a town at the same southern latitude. They will predict when the lines for the two towns on the graph will meet, and explain why the number of day and night hours in their town is the same as the number in the southern hemisphere town.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Explain what causes day and night
  2. Participate in the making of a class graph showing the hours of day and night in the students' town and in a town at the same southern latitude
  3. Predict when the lines for the two towns on the graph will meet

Materials:

  • Computer to show BrainPop movie, use Excel, and access the Internet
  • Calculator
  • Analog clock
  • Book titled "On the Same Day in March" by Marilyn Singer

Vocabulary:

climate, season, hemisphere, equator, rotation, orbit, autumn, cycle

Preparation:

Set up computer and computer projector if available. Locate the book "On the Same Day in March."

Lesson Procedure:

  1. This lesson stretches over the whole school year. Begin with a discussion about seasons being different in different parts of the world. Have the students tell why they think that is so.
  2. Show the BrainPOP Jr. Seasons movie to the class.
  3. Read "On the Same Day in March", which discusses the weather from pole to pole and around the world on the same day in March.
  4. Use ePals or a similar web site to find a class at your latitude in the southern hemisphere. Contact that class to set up the project.
  5. Once a week, use the Weather web site to find the time of sunrise and sunset in each place. To challenge selected students in math, have them use the clock and calculator to figure out the minutes of day and night in each place and plot them on the Excel graph.
  6. As the school year continues, replay the Seasons movie several more times to reinforce the concepts it is teaching. Refer frequently to the Excel graph and have the children predict when the lines on the graph will come together and why. You can also film the students telling about their climate and their area of the world and post the video for children in other classes to see.
  7. As the seasons change in your area, have students complete the Activity and/or Write About It features to reflect and extend their learning.

Extension Activity:

You can view one of the videos we got from our companion city. At the end of the school year, share the Seasons movie from BrainPOP (which is targeted at slighter older students and explains the concept in slightly more detail).