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Lesson Plan

Why Do We Have Seasons? (SMART Board Lesson) by ECSDM


Science (NYS P-12)

Grade Levels

Elementary, 1st Grade


Students will learn that the tilt of the Earth's axis as it revolves around the sun is responsible for the changing seasons.

Related Websites

The SMART Notebook files can only be opened with SMART Notebook software. You may download this free software from the SMART Technologies website by clicking on the link below.


Teacher will observe students for proper body placement when modeling Earth's tilt during group activity.

Completion of individual labeling activity sheet.

Completion of individual web sort.

  • Reason for seasons - Smart Notebook file
  • Season Web Sort - Smart Notebook file
  • Duration

    Three or Four 40-minute lessons

    Learning Objectives

    The student will model the tilt of the Earth in relationship to the Sun for each season.

    The student will label a diagram of the Earth's revolution around the sun.

    The student will classify seasonal attributes.


    SMART Board, SMART Board projector, Computer with SMART Notebook software, globe, flashlight, and the following documents (available in .xbk or .pdf formats):

  • Reason for seasons - Smart Notebook file
  • Season Web Sort - Smart Notebook file
  • Season_Web_Sort.pdf
  • Reason for Seasons.pdf
  • Procedure

    (Suggested pacing indicated in parentheses)

    (Session 1)
    The videos "Stage One Science: Changing Seasons" and "The Four Seasons" (both available through the Discovery Education website- subscription required) will serve as a method to introduce material to students. After each season is presented, the video will be stopped so that concepts may be discussed and reviewed.

    If you do not have access to United Streaming, you may click on the link (found in related websites) to Windows on the Universe and read Reasons for Seasons by Gail Gibbons and/or other trade books on the seasons to present the information.

    After viewing videos, teacher will use a globe and flashlight to model the revolution of the Earth around the sun, making sure to point out the position of the poles and the northern and southern hemispheres.

    (Session 2)
    Whole group activity:
    To actively engage students, the teacher will portray the sun and have the children circle around (facing the teacher) so that they can become the Earth. The focus will be on the positioning of the poles during the summer and winter. Since NY is in the northern hemisphere, the forehead will be the reference point on the body. The activity could be repeated for a point in the southern hemisphere by making the chin the reference point on the body.

    For the northern hemisphere, summer will be modeled by bending the head towards the teacher (the sun). In this position, the chin (southern hemisphere) is tucked away from the teacher. Winter will be modeled by tipping the head back. The forehead will be away from the teacher and the chin will be pointed toward the teacher. Fall and spring are modeled by holding the head erect. The teacher will move through the seasons one at a time, stressing the position of the head. The activity then continues by calling the seasons in random order and observing that the children are correctly positioning their heads.

    Extension activity: The activity can be further extended by having the children extend their arms to create the Earth's axis. Be sure that all left arms are extended out at an angle pointing up from the body and that the right arm is extended out at an angle pointing down from the body. The teacher will again portray the sun in the center as the children form a circle around him/her. The children begin by facing the teacher. The children will turn to the right to show summer in the northern hemisphere, left to show winter in the northern hemisphere, and face the teacher to show fall and spring (neither pole faces the sun). (Thanks to Bonnie Nizamis for this extension idea.)

    (Session 3)
    Review utilizing the Reason for Seasons SMART Notebook lesson. This includes a labeled diagram to allow for review, a blank diagram to be completed as a group, and an individual labeling sheet which may be printed and reproduced for each student.

    (Session 4)
    Students will independently complete the sorting activity in the Season Web Sort SMART Notebook lesson.
    **Both files are available above in the materials section as PDF files if you do not have access to a SMART Board.**

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