How Weather Affects Our Lives

How Weather Affects Our Lives

by Judie Haynes

Cold winter weather in the Northeast region of the United States provides an excellent opportunity to teach a unit on weather to my ESL students.

This unit is an excellent example of content-based ESL instruction and can be taught at a variety of grade and ability levels.

The literature used for this unit can be varied according to the age and ability levels of your students. Also, students who have already developed basic weather concepts in native language can be challenged with more difficult vocabulary.

Lesson topic

How weather affects our lives

Proficiency/Grade level

Beginning Grades 3-6; intermediate 1-2

Goal and Standard

Goal 2, Standard 2: To use English to achieve academically in all content areas

Content Concepts and Skills

Background Information

The water cycle; states of matter

Materials or Resources

Gilberto and the Wind, Taro's Umbrella, The Cloud Book, The Snowy Day


This lesson was designed to be covered during two weeks of instruction (30 minutes each day).

1. Students were introduced to basic weather terms through literature: Gilberto and the Wind, Taro's Umbrella, The Cloud Book, The Snowy Day

2. Students in grades 1-2 made a weather person with a sliding strip to practice the language of basic weather terms. Download from PDF file.

3. Students in grades 3-6 made picture flash cards to help them learn basic weather terms. Vocabulary was practiced using a bingo game.

4. Students kept a daily weather record for a two weeks. They charted the number of rainy, windy, sunny, snowy, and foggy days.

5. Students made a pinwheel to show the wind moving.

6. Students brainstormed how the weather affected their clothing, food, and daily activities. Class lists were brainstormed and written on charts for rainy, snowy, sunny, windy, and foggy days.

7. Five large charts were posted in the room with a weather term printed on the top: It is rainy; It is snowy; It is foggy; It is sunny; and It is windy.

8. Students sorted teacher-made sentence strips on the charts in a cooperative activity. Strips included sentences about daily activities affected by the weather: "This is a good day to wear shorts"; "You can go sledding today"; "Bring an umbrella."

9. Students completed a writing activity for one set of weather conditions using the charts and a writing frame.

"In ________________weather I can _________, _______________, and _____________.
I wear ______________, ______________, and _________________.
I like to eat ________________ and ______________.
I ______________weather, I can not ________________.

Descriptors and Progress Indicators

During this unit students worked on the following skills:

When students have completed this unit, they are ready to study how clouds are formed and why it rains and snows. They can learn basic information about severe weather conditions such as hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, thunderstorms, and ice storms.

Related Links

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Resource Picks

Snowy Day
A boy wakes up to find the world covered in snow. He goes out to play. Keats's illustrations capture the wondrous adventures he has in the snow.