Seasons Background Information for Teachers and Parents
This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about the seasons.The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Seasons. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.
In this movie, children will learn about different seasons and different types of weather. They’ll learn how Earth is tilted on its axis, and how as our planet orbits the Sun, seasons change in different parts of the world!
Review with children that we divide the year into seasons, or sets of consecutive months that have similar weather patterns and length of days. There are four seasons in many parts of the world: winter, spring, summer, and fall (also called autumn). Other parts of the world have two seasons: wet and dry. Children should observe that seasons happen in the same cycles year after year and that different types of weather occur during different seasons.
Which is the coldest season? Which is the hottest? Children should know that temperature is how hot or cold something is, and this can be measured with a thermometer. Though temperatures and amount of precipitation varies across different areas, winter typically has lower temperatures than the rest of the year. Snow, sleet, hail, and rain are common forms of precipitation in the winter. In snowy areas, many animals have difficulties finding food and some will even hibernate to conserve energy. Children can learn more about hibernation by watching the Hibernation movie. December, January, and February are considered winter months in the northern hemisphere, though some countries acknowledge November to be a part of winter. Children should understand that during winter they may wear heavier clothing like coats, hats, and scarves and participate in cold-weather activities such as sledding or skiing.
As the winter ends, spring begins and temperatures slowly rise as the days get longer. Snow and ice melt and more rain tends to fall during this season. Flowers and plants grow and bloom, and animals become active again. Many animals will have their young in the spring when food is plentiful. Furthermore, their young will have time to grow before experiencing a cold winter themselves. The United States marks the beginning of spring with the vernal equinox in March and the end of spring with the summer solstice in June. Children should understand that in spring they may wear lighter coats and rain gear, and also begin outdoor activities like baseball, softball, or gardening.
After spring is summer, which begins in June and ends around September in the United States. Summer is the warmest season and has the longest days, because our part of Earth is tilted toward the Sun throughout the season. Most areas receive the least amount of precipitation during this season. Children should understand that in summer they may wear shorts, skirts, shirts, hats, and sunglasses and go swimming or take a vacation. The Sun stays high in the sky during the summer and children should understand the importance of using sunscreen and staying covered and cool.
As the summer ends, the weather gets cooler again and the days get shorter. In the northern hemisphere, fall (or autumn) begins in September and ends in December with the Winter Solstice. During fall, leaves of some trees will turn colors and fall off. Some plants bear fruit, such as apple and pear trees. Autumn squash or gourds ripen, too, which is why pumpkins are abundant at Halloween. Some animals will begin to migrate, or move to warmer areas for the coming winter. You may want to watch the Migration movie for further exploration and extension of the topic. Other animals will store and eat food to prepare for hibernation or dormancy. Football is a common fall sport in many schools and community programs, and other fall activities include apple-picking or collecting autumn leaves. Children should understand that in fall they may wear coats and sweaters.
Seasons change because as the Earth orbits, its hemispheres are titled towards or away from the Sun. It takes Earth 365 days, or one year, to go around the Sun. When the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun, the southern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun. During this time, the northern hemisphere experiences summer, while the southern hemisphere experiences winter. The areas near the Equator, the imaginary line around the middle of the Earth that separates the two hemispheres, do not tilt much toward or away from the Sun. This means their weather is more consistent throughout the year, and usually is quite warm. Tropical countries in South America such as Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil, are good examples of areas that do not vary much in temperature during the year.
Because of the Earth’s tilt and orbit around the Sun, different constellations can be seen during different seasons. While people living in the northern hemisphere might see a particular constellation in the summer, people living in the southern hemisphere might see the same constellation in the winter.
For children who want to learn more information about the seasons, we recommend watching other movies in the Weather unit.