Temperature Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about temperature and degrees Farenheit and Celcius.The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Temperature. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

The Temperature movie will explore temperature and explain how to read a thermometer using degrees Fahrenheit and degrees Celsius. Children will learn how to use a thermometer to see how hot or cold something is, find out the temperature at which water boils and freezes, and discover the body temperature of a healthy human. Help children explore the world around them and gather, analyze, and quantify information by using tools and making observations. Since thermometers can look different, we recommend giving children plenty of practice working with different thermometers and measuring different things—from the temperature outside to the temperature of food, drinks, and even their bodies.

Review with children that temperature tells how hot or cold something is. We can use a thermometer to measure the temperature. Today, analog thermometers no longer contain mercury due to potential health risks; they are filled with a combination of mineral spirits or alcohol mixed with red dye. In these thermometers, the red liquid rises and falls as it gets hotter or cooler. The hotter the temperature, the higher the liquid climbs up the thermometer. The lower the temperature, the lower it goes down the thermometer. You may want to present children with a few thermometers, both digital and analog, to study and experiment with.

How do we use temperature? Brainstorm with children. Explain that we use thermometers to measure the temperature outside and inside, and to check the temperatures of our bodies. We set the temperature on ovens and measure the temperature of food. How else do we use temperature?

Remind children that temperature is measured in units called degrees. There are a few different temperature scales, including degrees Fahrenheit and degrees Celsius. It is similar to how we can measure the length of an object in inches or in centimeters. The Celsius scale is part of the metric system, along with centimeters, meters, kilometers, grams, and kilograms. Water boils at 212°F or 100°C and freezes at 32°F or 0°C. The temperature of our bodies is about 37°C or 98.6°F. Write the temperatures on the board and remind children that we use a small circle in the top right corner of the number to stand for degrees and use an F or C to indicate what temperature scale we are using.

Review reading a thermometer with children. We recommend giving small groups a thermometer to work with and read. Remind them that not all thermometers look alike, so when they use one, they should look at it carefully to figure out what temperature scale a particular thermometer uses. Students should know that certain thermometers are made of glass, so they should handle them carefully to avoid breaking. On some thermometers, the numbers go up by ten, while on others they go up by five. To find the temperature, look at where the special liquid stops along the number line. Explain how to start at the number below where the liquid stops and count or skip-count up the hash marks to find the temperature. On some thermometers the marks need to be skip-counted by twos, while on others they are simply counted by ones.

Have small groups of students use thermometers to measure the temperature outside or measure the temperature of a glass of ice water or cup of warm water. You may wish to have children begin a long-term project of measuring the weather outside and recording their observations. Be sure that children take the temperature outside around the same time each day. Before they look at the temperature, ask them to guess the temperature that day. Encourage children to become weather experts!