Saturday, January 29, 2011


Winter is a great time is teach our children about temperature! How detailed you get with your "temperature lesson" will likely depend on the age of the child and their knowledge of numbers. My five year old has recently learned to count to 100 so I felt pretty confident that he'd be successful in learning to read a thermometer. Granted our current temps have been below zero quite a lot lately and he doesn't grasp the concept of negative numbers. (For that matter, I am not sure that I can fully comprehend -23F but I try to!)

To get us started I made a fun project "paper thermometers'. We made these by printing out a thermometer template onto card stock (see link below). We added red & white curling ribbon that could be moved up and down. The red portion of the ribbon is the part to read, which made more sense to my son when we looked at a real thermometer. Then we practiced reading the temperature in increments of 10. We were looking at just Fahrenheit for now. I left the Celsius markings on our models since the rest of the world uses C and one day I will teach my son C as well as F.  :)

Then to make sense of what the different numbers mean we read a mini book called "Watching the Weather". This does a good job describing the four season and explains the weather associated with each. The book also has pictures of thermometers in it to show the tempature. As we read the book my son adjusted his paper thermometer to reflect that temparture. (Unfortunately I can't put a link or copy of the book in this blog, but if I find something similar I will post it in the future.)

Likely a younger child would not understand that the white ribbon isn't meant to be read. I suppose clear fishing line would be a better substitute for the white curling ribbon. Either way, younger children would enjoy moving the ribbon up and down! This could just be an simple intro for them.

Another activity that works well are "Temparture Sequencing Cards" (see link below). The child puts the cards in order based on the temperature (coldest to warmest). This clearly illustrates what would happen to a snowman as the temparture rises. {A couple of tips on using these is that you may want to enlarge them on a copier to make the numbers appear larger. Also, don't include the directions card because it confuses the child as to why there are two cards with 30F.)

Other extensions:
*Purchase a zipper pull type thermometer. My son has one with a wistle and he enjoys using it when we are on our outdoor adventures.
* Purchase an indoor/outdoor thermometer that has a picture of person and illustrates how to dress for certain temperatures.
*Practice simple temparture experiments with cups of water and ice cubes. (I'll be posting some of these soon.)
* Keep a nature journal and log occasionally what the temperature is!

For a free printable thermometer -- go here:

For free snowman sequencing cards -- go here:

1 comment:

  1. Nice activity ideas. We found some higher quality thermometer templates for free at this site too.