The reason behind why the seasons change can be hard for many children to grasp. It is hard to imagine how big the earth is from our little place upon it, let alone to imagine it taking 365 days to revolve around a sun 93 million miles away. And then to visualize how all of this controls what season it is where we live is almost too much for us adults to wrap our heads around!
So, I find reviewing some basic activities each (and every!) equinox and solstice helps children eventually gain some understanding of why the seasons change. Here are those multi-sensory activities that lead your children from learning the information to showing what they have learned to explaining what they have learned. Make sure to download the FREE booklet, Why Do Seasons Change?, to work in every three months to help develop this understanding.
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Videos About the Change in Seasons
Starting with a visual representation of how the earth revolves around the sun and thus causes the seasons is key. Plus it is nice to have someone else explain it! Check these out:
Booklet: Why Do the Seasons Change?
Then, I created this booklet for children to work in every three months. It can be used with children from 1st to 3rd grades. Even younger children could be included and complete the drawings.
The first four pages lead you through a review of what children have learned in the above videos. Then, there are two pages for each season. There are also quizzes at the end of the booklet if you want to assess what your children have remembered from the lessons. It is suggested that you review this booklet every three months when the season changes. It can be helpful to continue this for more than one year if your children are struggling with the concept.
Act Out the Movements of the Earth
Acting out how the earth moves around the sun can really help children understand the concept. Especially, if your children are tactile learners. (If you are not sure how your children learn best, read What is Your Child’s Learning Style?)
This works best with two people in a dark room. One is the ‘sun’ and holds a lantern or a lamp. The other is the ‘earth’ and revolves or orbits around the sun. Point out on your human ‘earth’ where the equator might be and then the northern and southern hemispheres. The ‘earth’ can tilt and call out what season it is for one or both of the hemispheres as he or she revolves around the earth. It can be helpful to place a sticker on the person in one of the hemispheres to help them understand which hemisphere they care calling out the seasons for.
Another option is for the ‘earth’ to hold a globe. However, for some children feeling themselves tilt toward and away from the sun is important.
Four Seasons Sorting Mats
While the FREE booklet above has quizzes to assess what children have learned, we have found with our boys that hands on review and assessment is much more fun. These sorting mats allow children to look at text and pictures of the information they have learned and then match them to the correct season on a mat. Trial and error can be used, too. There is an answer key for children to check their own work. These mats are great for children to work with several times and can be pulled out every equinox and solstice and even in between!
To buy the Four Seasons Mats:
Draw a Diagram of the Sun and Earth
The last step of really understanding information learned is to teach it to someone else! Allow your children to be the ‘teacher’ (how many kids love this?) and draw a diagram on a white board or paper or even with chalk outside. Now, can they explain how the earth moves and the seasons change? They may be able to draw it, but have trouble verbally explaining it. Reviewing some of the vocabulary they have learned such revolve, tilt, equinox, orbit etc. can help.
How else have you learned about the seasons with your children? Comment below and share with others!
Does this lesson inspire your children to want to learn more about the universe around them? Check out: