In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about heat, energy and temperature. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Heat topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching About Heat
Break up your class into small groups or partners and give each group a plastic resealable bag and one ice cube. Then have groups race each other to see who can melt the ice cube first. Encourage groups to be creative in the way they add heat to their ice cubes. Students may use friction to help speed the melting, blow hot air on them, or put the bags in a sunny spot in the classroom. The first group whose ice cubes melt should raise their hands. You may wish to use a stopwatch and take the opportunity to discuss elapsed time as a math extension.
Have your students practice using thermometers. You may want to review this topic by screening the Temperature movie. Have groups or partners use a thermometer to measure the temperature outside during different hours, such as the morning, afternoon, and late afternoon. How does the temperature change? Why do they think it changed? Then have small groups use thermometers to measure the temperature of a cup of water. Add ice cubes and measure the temperature again. How does the temperature change? Does it change again after an hour on a sunny windowsill?
As a math extension, have students make up word problems using their temperatures. Model an example for them: “Today the temperature is 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Yesterday the temperature was 5 degrees cooler. What was the temperature?” Have students share their word problems with each other and solve.
Have small groups wet two paper or cloth towels. Then have them put one towel in a sunny spot outside or inside and another in a cool, dark place. Ask students to predict how they think sunshine or lack of sunshine will affect the damp towels. Later have students observe which towel is dryer. How did heat affect the way the towel dried? Where did the water in the towel go? Remind students that heat can cause matter to change states; for example, heat can make water evaporate. This could be a good opportunity to screen or review the Changing States of Matter movie.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching About Heat
Heat in the Kitchen
Cook with your child so he or she can learn how heat causes changes to matter. For example, examine an egg together. Crack open the egg and have your child describe what he or she observes. Then scramble the egg in a pan. How does the egg change? What makes the egg change? Can the scrambled egg change back to its original appearance? Why or why not? Explain the difference between physical and chemical changes to your child.
Walk through your home together and find different sources of heat. Make sure your child is careful when identifying sources of heat such as the heater, radiator, fireplace, barbeque, toaster, or stove. Encourage your child to find heat in unsuspecting places, such as the television set. Is it warm after it has been on for a while? Why? Encourage your child to think about how we use and need heat.