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Weather unit becomes year-long project for one second grade class

Mrs. Shaw's students enjoyed the leaves outside their classroom in the late fall.

Last fall, a science unit on weather and its daily changes lead Mrs. Shaw's second grade class to wonder about the seasonal changes that they were observing. The students wanted to know, How do the leaves change colors? How does the thermometer know how to measure when it is cold or hot? Where do the leaves go that don’t get raked up when summer time comes? How do the leaves get back on the tree after they all fall off?

Students used the Internet to research the questions they had. Then, as a class, they adopted a tree to observe. Students also used a thermometer to measure the temperature. They utilized the Internet to periodically research the day’s high and low temperatures and the times of sunrise and sunsets. Each student then recorded their observations of the tree and the data they collected on temperature and sunlight across the seasons in their own journals.

The class decided to conduct an experiment to measure their shadows across the seasons to determine if our shadows changed as the seasons did. Students worked in teams to measure their shadows at noon and record the data in their journals. Then they posted this data to a class bar graph that included results for each student. At first, the students predicted that their shadows would grow because they were growing. The students were amazed when they measured the shadows in winter and found that they had shrunk. With their shadow measurements continuing to shrink in the spring, the students correctly predicted that their shadows would be shortest in the summer. Finally, the students discovered that it is the sun’s intensity and direction of rays that controlled their shadows and the changing seasons.

To document the project, the class created a wall-size timeline of the seasons in the hallway. Students wanted to share with our second grade friends the pictures of our explorations, the bar graph collection of their data, and the results of the research from all of our I Wonder questions.

Written by: Bonnie Shaw, Second Grade Teacher
Posted: May 18, 2011 by Syble Isbister

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