What's the Temperature?
Objective: Children will use a thermometer to understand hot and cold temperatures.‹ Return to Theme
What You Will Need
- Student thermometers – 1 per child
- Plastic bowls – 2 per child
- Ice cubes – 4 per child
- Warm water – 1 bowl per child
What To Do
- Distribute bowls of ice cubes.
- Have the children feel the ice cubes to explain the term cold (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
- Display a thermometer and explain how it is used to measure temperature (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
- Have the children locate the mercury line on their thermometer; then place it in the bowl of ice cubes.
- Discuss what happened to the red line on the thermometer (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
- Have the children make a prediction about what will happen to the red line by placing the thermometer in hot water (see Did You Know?).
- Distribute bowls of warm water.
- Have the children feel the warm water to explain the term warm.
- Have the children locate the red line on their thermometer; then place it in the bowl of warm water.
- Discuss what happens to the red line.
Guiding Student Inquiry
- Explain how the ice cubes feel.
- Make a prediction about what might happen to the red thermometer line if we heat or cool the thermometer.
- Tell me what happened to the red thermometer line when you put the thermometer in the ice cubes.
- Explain how the water feels.
- Tell me what happened to the red thermometer line when you put the thermometer in the water.
- Why do you think the red line moved?
- What is something else that could make the red thermometer line move?
Explore, Extend & Integrate
- Test different locations in the classroom to see if the red thermometer line changes, such as by a heat register, by the window, in a closet, or wrapped in a cloth.
- Take the thermometers outside and note the change in the red line.
- Test locations outside to see if the red line changes, such as on a swing, on the slide, or on a window sill.
Check for Children’s Understanding
- Do children understand that the red thermometer line is affected by the temperature?
- Do children understand that the colder something is, the further the red line will drop on the thermometer?
- Do children understand that the warmer something is, the further the red line will rise?
Did You Know?
Thermometers measure temperature by using a liquid material, either mercury or ethyl alcohol, that is sensitive to changes in temperature. Most thermometers for domestic use contain ethyl alcohol that is colored with red dye. The part of the thermometer containing the red liquid is in a narrow tube with a bulb at the bottom. The red line on the thermometer changes when it is heated or cooled. When a thermometer is heated, the red liquid inside the narrow tube expands, causing the liquid to rise, or go up, in the tube. When the thermometer is cooled, the red liquid inside the tube contracts, causing the liquid to go down inside the tube.
Temperature is typically measured by degrees Fahrenheit or degrees Celsius. A Fahrenheit temperature is based on the temperature of water freezing being at 32 degrees. Temperatures measured in degrees Celsius are based on the water freezing mark being 0 degrees. We feel temperature through our sense of touch. Most people feel comfortable around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- temperature – the degree of heat or cold in an object or an environment.
- thermometer – an instrument for measuring temperature.
- ethyl alcohol – a clear liquid used to make some medicines and used in thermometers.
- cool – a little cold; not warm.
- warm – having some heat; not cold.
- prediction – a statement that something might happen or is expected to happen.
Take caution to make the water very warm, but not so hot as to scald fingers.
- What Is a Thermometer? by Lisa Trumbauer
- All About Temperature by Alison Auch
- Temperature by Kay Manolis
- Hot and Cold (Dinosaur School) by Joyce Jeffries
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Common Core State
These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.
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There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.