Seasonal Sleuths

Level: primary

Overview: What are your students' ideas about seasons and change? Find out and then invite the class to become seasonal sleuths in their schoolyard and neighborhood!

Laying the Groundwork
Click on each photo, look carefully, and think . . .
Engage students by having them observe these four seasonal photos. You can click on the photos and print them or have students look at large versions online.

Each photo includes the same questions. Discuss them as a class, have students write responses, or get small groups to discuss them before sharing their ideas with the class. Finally, ask students to put the photos in order as they see fit.


1. Use students' observations and ideas as a springboard for discussion. As you explore their notions about seasons and change, ask some of these questions:

  • What sounds, colors, smells, and sights are part of _____ (season)? (Create a class chart.)
  • What things do you do during _____ (season) (such as play certain sports or celebrate holidays)?
  • How does _____ (season) make you feel? What do you like or dislike about it?
  • What things tell you that seasons are changing? (For instance, How do we know when we're going from fall to winter?)
  • Does _____ (season) in our community look different than it does in the picture? How? Why do you think it's different?
  • What changes do you notice happening to plants in _____ (season)? to animals?
  • What do you think will happen to our tulips over the winter? In the spring? Why?

2. Use this this chart (or create a class-size one) to track changes every month or two beginning in the fall. Fill out as many categories as are practical. Print a new chart for each round of observations.

Making Connections
As students keep track of and reflect on seasonal changes in their own tulip gardens and school grounds, start to ask them questions that help them make connections between different factors (e.g., a change in weather and appearance of buds or insects).

Digging Deeper: Seasonal Walk
Consider taking your students on a fall walk in the neighborhood so they can see, hear, and otherwise experience the season. Bring along containers, such as paper bags and jars, clipboards and pencils, drawing paper, hand lenses, thermometers, and so on. Have students draw and otherwise record seasonal signs they uncover. Invite them to bring back appropriate items to further examine and discuss in the classroom. (See Collector's Corner.).

Check that students can discuss changes in weather, natural events, and other factors associated with the seasons. They should begin to understand that spring changes in temperature (as the earth is warmed by the sun) is behind most of these changes.

National Science Education Standards (K-4)

  • Ask a question about objects, organisms, events.
  • Employ simple equipment/tools to gather data and extend senses.
  • Use data to conduct a reasonable explanation.
  • Plants and animals have life cycles.
  • Weather changes from day to day and over the seasons.
  • The behavior of individual organisms is influenced by internal cues (such as hunger) and by external cues (such as a change in the environment).