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Lesson 1: “Balloons Around the Sun” from Wild About Weather


Objectives:  After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

·        Demonstrate how the earth’s tilt affects weather patterns and our seasons.


Key Question: What causes the seasons?


Overview: This activity is in two parts:

·        Teacher explains an illustration on the board of how earth’s tilt affects the intensity of sunlight in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere at different times of the year.

·        Students act out the earth’s revolution around the sun with balloons and flashlight, then identify the different positions in the orbit with the four seasons.


Time Required:  45-60 minutes (1 class session)



·        balloons

·        flashlight

·        markers

·        chalkboard or blacktop area

·        Prentice Hall transparency:  #69 The Seasons


Procedure:  See p. 9 in Ranger Rick’s NatureScope: Wild About Weather


Assessment:  Ask students or groups to identify the season represented by different positions of the balloons in the activity (see last paragraph of p. 10)


OUSD Science Content Standards (State of California Science Content Standards):

4a, 4b



National Wildlife Federation, Ranger Rick’s NatureScope, Wild About Weather. Triangle Learning Triangle Press, An Imprint of McGraw-Hill, New York, 1989, 1998.


Alan Gould, Carolyn Willard, and Stephen Pompea.  The Real Reasons for the Seasons—Sun-Earth Connections.  Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, 1999.


Notes: Instead of drawing the earth’s orbit on the white or black board, you can project the color transparency, The Seasons (#56) from the Prentice Hall transparency booklet.  It may also be worthwhile to collect four globes to use instead of balloons.


You can teach seasons and the role of the sun in climate in greater depth by skipping this activity and substituting lessons from the GEMS guide: The Real Reasons for the Seasons.  Using all the lessons in this guide should take about 10 teaching days.  If you want to use the Seasons GEMS guide, but can commit less time, Activities 1, 2, and 7 will provide a good general introduction to the seasons.  Activity 7, “Tilted Earth”, is similar to the Ranger Rick Lesson but uses Styrofoam ball instead of balloons.