Earth and Space Science

Global Warming in K-2 classrooms?

I am a preservice teacher thinking about teaching the younger elementary grades, K-2. With everything going on in the world (hurricanes, earthquakes, global warming, etc.) it is hard to know what to cover and what to leave out in favor of reaching all the standards forced on us for the year. A particular wonder of mine is, should the concept of global warming be included in our science education? If so, to what extent? Because there are probably going to be parents out there on both sides of the issue, and it's hard to know where to draw the line between fact and opinion. Any advice is appreciated!

Molly Lembezeder
Molly Lembezeder
3130 Activity Points

Hi Molly,

While I probably wouldn't get into a full blown climate discussion with kindergarten, first graders, or second graders, you could certainly lay the groundwork for a discussion of climate in later years. I would do this by having my students observe the weather. You could have them do it for a week or two at a time and keep a weather log. It could be tied into other subjects as well to maximize your teaching time.

Some examples of incorporating a weather study into your curriculum are shown in these two NSTA resources: Teaching Through Trade Books--Weather Watchers and Weather Watch, a book chapter from the NSTA Press Book Meteorology. Both should be free resources.

By teaching your students to observe the weather, they become familiar with what "typical" weather patterns are. As they get older, they have the background knowledge needed to begin the discussion about climate and how it differs from weather. They will then also be more developmentally ready to learn about how climate is changing and what may be causing those changes.

Another resource you might check out is NOAA's It is a great website that has a myriad of teaching tips and ideas that will guide you in developing a plan to help know what approach to take with younger elementary school students.

Ruth Hutson
Ruth Hutson
62710 Activity Points

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