Climate Change Lesson 1 : What Is Climate?

What is the distinction between weather and climate? As a way to understand climate, students interpret climagraphs, and read about climate variability. An extension lesson has students comparing climate data from different regions in the United States.

Students will answer these essential questions:

What is weather? 

What is climate? 

Do our climate records indicate climate change?

Subject/Target Grade

Science and Math/ Middle School and High School


One 45-50 minute period – Classroom setting


From MEECS Climate Change Resource DVD

What is Climate? (PowerPoint) 

Download: What_is_Climate_PowerPoint.pptx

per class

Weather or Climate (answer key) 

Download: Weather_or_Climate_Cards_Answer_Key_KNaqx6c.pdf

Midland Precipitation (answer key/teacher resource) 

Download: Midland_Precipitation_Variability_Transparency_Master.pdf

Climagraph Example (transparency master/teacher resource) 

Download: Climagraph_Example_Teacher_Resource_and_Transparency_Master.pdf

Making a Climagraph – Atlanta, Georgia (answer key) 

Download: Making_a_Climagraph_Answer_Key.pdf

Climates and Places (answer key) 

Download: Climate_and_Places_Answer_Key.pdf

Michigan Temperature Variability (transparency master) 

Download: Michigan_Temperature_Variability_Transparency_Master.pdf

Midland Precipitation Variability (transparency master) 

Download: Midland_Precipitation_Variability_Transparency_Master_5ZNn5gP.pdf

What is the Difference? (transparency master) 

Download: What_is_the_Difference_Transparency_Master.pdf

per pair

Weather or Climate Cards (student activity) 

Download: Weather_or_Climate_Cards_Student_Activity_OL4xEgj.pdf

Weather or Climate (student activity) 

Download: Weather_or_Climate_Cards_Answer_Key_5VgZ5WA.pdf

per student

Midland Precipitation (student resource) 

Download: Midland_Precipitation_Student_Resource.pdf

Midland Precipitation (student activity) 

Download: Midland_Precipitation_Variability_Transparency_Master_WGPnV5R.pdf

Making a Climagraph – Atlanta, Georgia (student activity) 

Download: Making_a_Climagraph_Student_Activity.pdf

Climates and Places (student activity) optional 

Download: Climate_and_Places_Student_Activity.pdf

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