Science Content and Background Knowledge: Climate and Weather

Weather and climate are different! It is true; there is a clear difference between weather and climate. Weather is usually considered what happens outside. Weather includes many things such as air, the atmosphere or precipitation that falls from the sky. Climate, on the other hand, is an average reading of weather that is taken over a particular location over a long period of time. Climate is very useful for predicting weather. This is true because climates do not often change, but weather changes from day to day, or even hour to hour.

Activity/Lesson Plan for Weather and Climate

Cloudy with a Chance of…?cwacom.jpg

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:
  • discriminate between fact, fiction, and opinion
  • form opinions about the quality of a text(setting-language use)
  • compare and contrast within and between text (facts, characters, author's purpose)
  • create graphic organizers (webs, story maps)
  • select and use relevant information for discussion, further reading, writing, or a follow-up task
  • use informal writing to facilitate learning
  • use word recognition skills (compound words)
  • form opinions on healthy and unhealthy foods
  • use a spreadsheet for collecting and recording data

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

3 weeks


  • Book: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and drawn by Ron Barrett Scholastic Inc., 1978
  • KWL chart
  • T-chart
  • Story web chart
  • Story map with the 5 W's
  • Health Book
  • Guidelines of the Food Pyramid

Technology resources

  • Internet-connected computer
  • Inspiration Software from Inspiration Software, Inc.


Students should be familiar with:
  • the concept of story mapping that includes the beginning, middle, and ending
  • compound words


Before reading:[[http://www.learnnc.org/scos/2004-ELA/0002/02/08|]]
  1. Preview and predict by looking at cover of book. Ask: Why is the older man holding a plate and utensils with this umbrella?
  2. Review vocabulary: Use KWL similarity (what you think the words means, what the word actually means, illustration) using the weather words attachment. Use these words also to create a database. See the Stormy Weather website from Education Central where students can explore the basic elements of weather in Weather Hunt and create a database in Storm Sampler.
  3. Review compound words: What are compounds? (two short words combined to make one word)
  4. Teacher conducts oral reading of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. During reading interrupt periodically to see if students are following along with events and what's happening.
  5. Directed Reading: Give students Questions for Discussion
to think about while reading. After reading, students will be asked to answer the following questions:
    • Where is Chewandswallow located? (across an ocean, over lots of huge bumpy mountains, across three hot deserts, and one smaller ocean)
    • What did the people do with the leftovers? Why? (took them home and put them in their refrigerators in case they got hungry between meals)
    • Discuss the different things that came out of the sky. (soup, juice, mashed potatoes, green peas, hamburgers, brussels sprouts, peanut butter, broccoli, cheese, tomatoes, and meatballs)
    • What actually falls from the sky? Explain the different forms of precipitation.
  1. Briefly explain to students that water that falls from the sky can change from a liquid to a solid.
    • sleet: water droplets that fall from the atmosphere and freeze into ice pellets before hitting the earth
    • hail: frozen water droplets that grow larger while being held inside a cloud by strong updrafts
    • rain: water droplets that fall from the atmosphere to the earth
    • freezing rain: water droplets that come from the atmosphere to the earth
    • snow: ice crystals that leave the cloud and do not melt before hitting the earth
    • atmosphere: the layer of air that surrounds the earth
    • precipitation: any form of water that falls to the earth from the atmosphere
  2. Explain the water cycle: the process of melting, precipitation, evaporation, condensation, and erosion. If you have access to the BrainPop website, in the science section there is a movie on the watercycle you can watch with students.
Play the Droplet and the Water Cycle game on NASA's For Kids Only Earth Science Enterprise website.
  1. In the book, a reference is made to the Sanitation Department cleaning up after meals. Ask the students, what do they think the author is saying about people's responsibility toward their environment?
  2. Comprehension Skill: Cause and effect (use a T-chart). Have students identify cause and effect with examples from the story. First one is modeled by the teacher:
Cause: A big pancake fell on the school.
Effect: School was closed
Cause: Too much spaghetti fell on the town.
Effect: ?
Cause: The townspeople ate too much cream cheese and jelly sandwiches.
Effect: ?
Cause: There was a pepper storm.
Effect: ?
  1. In the concluding discussion, ask:
    • What caused the people of Chewandswallow to leave the town? (stomach aches, sneezing, the town was a mess)
    • Is the story fiction or non-fiction? (fiction)
    • Are there any parts that stuck out in your mind as something you really liked or would like to change? Any parts you did not like how would you change to make them more to your likely?
  2. Complete a story map using the Inspiration Software template for Language Arts-Literacy Web to answer the five W's (Who, What, When, Where, and Why).
  3. Nutrition activity:[[http://www.learnnc.org/scos/2004-ELA/0002/02/08|]]
    • Introduction. In the town of Chewandswallow, the people did not have to decide what to eat for their meals. All of their food came from the sky and they had to eat what the weather brought to them. You have to make choices many times a day about what to eat. Do you know what kinds of food to choose to keep your body healthy? See the USDA website to download a Food Guide Pyramid poster or use the Health textbook as a class reference for discussion. Tell students the object of a food pyramid is to show the guidelines of what foods are healthy.
    • Have students compare using a Venn-diagram (one of your own or use template in Inspiration software) healthy foods to the foods that were eaten in Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. Ask:
      • Which one is the better example of how we should eat? Why?
      • What is the story pyramid lacking that is essential to a good diet?
      • When the townspeople traveled to the other town, do you think that they will eat better foods, or will continue to eat the same things that fell from their sky? Why or Why not?
  4. Writing Activity Prompt: Reread the part of the book where people carried cutlery and dinnerware whenever they went out. Have students write about an imaginary town where odd things rain from the sky. See the Writing Prompt. Teach-nology has a sample writing rubric you may wish to use for evaluation.
  5. Homework Activity: Plan your ideal weather for a day in the town of Chewandswallow and make a forecast for a meal. Write as if you are a professional weather forecaster. You might want to watch the news for the weather report on television to get some ideas for your writing. Example:
Weather Forecast For October 15, 2002 by Meteorologist BJ Larson
Today we will be seeing some strong weather systems from the South bringing us a 90% chance of Fried Chicken and okra. Expect some accumulation of the okra. The high should be around 55 degrees with a low of 15 degrees.
You may wish to use this homework rubric from Teach-nology.
  1. Closure questions:
    • Could it ever rain meatballs? How about pancakes?
    • Is this story fiction or non-fiction? Is it fact or opinion?
    • What is the theme of the story?
    • Why do we do story-mapping?
    • What foods do you need to eat every day?
    • Would you want your friends to read this book? Why or Why not?


  • Inspiration Software Template for the story web or your own story web from a reading textbook.
  • Teacher observation of the water cycle Game.
  • Writing rubric for the prompt
  • Homework rubric

Supplemental information

Teacher should have experience with Inspiration software. If you don't have this software use the story-web chart that comes with all reading textbooks such as Scott Foresman or draw your own story web.

Critical vocabulary

Weather Words


I love doing read-alouds in my classroom and then being able to create a lesson plan from the read-aloud to incorporate several different subjects.

North Carolina Curriculum Alignment

Computer Technology Skills (2005)Grade 2
  • Goal 2: The learner will demonstrate knowledge and skills in the use of computer and other technologies.
    • Objective 2.04: Use spreadsheet software in content areas to enter, display, and identify sources of data as a class. Strand - Spreadsheet
English Language Arts (2004)Grade 2
  • Goal 2: The learner will develop and apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
    • Objective 2.02: Use text for a variety of functions, including literary, informational, and practical.
    • Objective 2.06: Recall main ideas, facts and details from a text.
    • Objective 2.07: Discuss similarities and differences in events, characters and concepts within and across texts.
    • Objective 2.08: Interpret information from diagrams, charts, and maps.
Science (2005)Grade 2
  • Goal 2: The learner will conduct investigations and use appropriate tools to build an understanding of the changes in weather.
    • Objective 2.06: Observe and record weather changes over time and relate to time of day and time of year.
Healthful Living Education (2006)Grade 2
  • Goal 4: The learner will apply knowledge and behavior self-management skills to areas of nutrition and physical activity for healthy growth, development, and maintenance.
    • Objective 4.01: Identify the amount of food from each food group of My Pyramid needed each day to achieve and maintain good health.
    • Objective 4.02: Summarize the benefits of healthy eating.

The Water Cycle :

What is it?
The water cycle is when water is changed from a liquid to a gas back to a liquid again
Some Important Words:
Evaporation: when liquid turns into water vapor
Condensation: when water vapor turns back into liquid
Precipitation: moisture falling from the sky like rain, snow, sleet, hail

Lesson Plan/Activity: http://www.learnnc.org/lessons/BjLarson2112003311
Background Information: http://weathereye.kgan.com/cadet/climate/climate_vs.html

Here is an example of a lesson we did in GS4401:

*This activity shows students that the earth tilts back and forth on its axis.
*When it is winter in the northern hemisphere, it is summer in the southern hemisphere because the sun is shining more directly to the south.
*When the season begins to change from winter to spring the earth slowly tilts back causing the sun to slowly creep up across the equator.


Questions we still have about this topic?
  • If the sun creeps up the across the equator in the spring and the earth tilts forward on it's axis, then why do we still have snowy days in places like Boone, NC? Where does the cold air come from?
  • Where does the warm air come from when we have 60 and 70 degree days in the winter months?
  • What causes thunder and lightning?
  • How can it hail in the summer during a storm?

  • Breen, Mark and Kathleen Friestad. Illustrated by Michael Kline. The Kid's Book of Weather Forecasting: Build a Weather Station, 'Read the Sky' & Make Predictions!" Williamson Publishing Company. July 2000.
  • Moore, Jo Ellen. Illustrated by Phillip Smith, Jo Larsen and Kelly McMahan. Learning About Weather (Scienceworks for Kids). Evan-Moor Educational Publishers. October 1, 2000.
  • Eubank, Mark. Illustrated by Mark Hicks. The Weather Detectives. Gibbs Smith Publisher. April 16, 2004.
  • Gillis, Jennifer Storey. Puddle Jumpers: Fun Weather Projects for Kids. Storey Publishing, LLC. January 6, 1996.
  • Editors of TIME for kids. Time for Kids: Storms! HarperTrophy Publishers. February 21, 2006.
  • Cole, Joanne. Illustrated by Bruce Degan. The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane. Tandem Library. October 1999.

Weather Facts
a. Weather refers to what the air is like outside. It may be warm or cool; wet or dry.
b. Weather can change very quickly.
c. The weather can be rainy, sunny, windy, cloudy, or foggy.
d. Rainy weather is when there are water droplets falling from the clouds.
e. The sun helps to warm our planet, and when it is sunny the sun is very bright and not covered by clouds.
f. Wind is moving air that we cannot see, but we can often feel the wind. It is windy outside if you can see the leaves and the grass moving.
g. Clouds are made of tiny drops of water. It is cloudy if you cannot see the blue sky, and the sun does not seem as bright as it usually does on a sunny day.
h. Fog is a cloud that is close to the earth’s surface. It is foggy when it is hard to see outside because everything looks white.
i. There are different types of precipitation that help us to explain the weather. Types of precipitation include: rain, snow, sleet, and hailstones.
j. Rain is the water droplets that fall from clouds.
k. Snow is what forms when the water freezes inside the clouds before falling to earth.
l. Sleet is snow that melts and refreezes before falling to the ground.
m. Hailstones form inside a cloud when water vapor freezes onto ice crystals, and when these hailstones get too heavy they fall to the ground.
n. Thunderstorms often happen in the summer, and they can bring lightning, thunder, and rain.
o. Sometimes weather can be severe and scary. Severe weather includes: hurricanes, tornadoes, and typhoons.
p. Climate is the way weather usually is in a certain area.