I'm Freezing

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This unit comprises 5 stations, in which students develop an awareness of the attributes of temperature and use specific language for describing temperature.

Achievement Objectives
GM1-1: Order and compare objects or events by length, area, volume and capacity, weight (mass), turn (angle), temperature, and time by direct comparison and/or counting whole numbers of units.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Describe objects and the day as hot or cold.
  • Compare the temperature of two objects.
  • Order a group of 2 or more objects by temperature.
Description of Mathematics

Early temperature experiences must develop the language associated with temperature, as well as an awareness of what temperature is. The use of words such as hot, cold, warm and freezing focuses attention on the attribute of temperature. Students should develop this language through varied experiences with a range of temperatures, for example, by touching warm and cold objects and by observing effects of heating and cooling objects.

Opportunities for Adaptation and Differentiation

The learning opportunities in this unit can be differentiated by providing or removing support to students and by varying the task requirements. Ways to differentiate include:

  • providing students with example pictures of hot and cold things, rather than expecting them to draw their own
  • reducing or extending the number of categories students use on their scale (just "warm or cold" is easier than "freezing, cold, warm, or hot")
  • providing opportunities for students to work in pairs and small groups in order to encourage peer learning, scaffolding, extension, and the sharing and questioning of ideas
  • working alongside individual students (or groups of students) who require further support with specific area of knowledge or activities.

The activities in this unit can be adapted to make them more interesting by adding contexts that are familiar to them. You may have students that come from a part of the world (or a part of New Zealand) that is particularly cold or hot. Have them describe to the class what it is like. It is possible that you have students that have never encountered snow, or students that have never been to the beach. 

Te reo Māori kupu such as paemahana (temperature) could be introduced in this unit and used throughout other mathematical learning.

Required Resource Materials
  • Cardboard strips
  • Crayons
  • Pegs
  • Ice cubes
  • Lids or saucers
  • Class list and pink and blue highlighters
  • Sunny beach scene
  • Paper for drawing
  • Four containers to be filled with water
  • Masking tape and a pen
  • Fridge, chilly bin, or fan
  • Heater
  • Chart paper (Hot spots & Cold spots)
  • A box of dressing up clothes

Note that these stations are organised as stand-alone activities. You could either implement them as stations to be explored by groups of students across a few sessions, explore them as a whole class, or use them as follow-up tasks for small groups of students in response to whole class teaching.

Consider starting and ending each session with a review of the tasks completed at the stations. As students work roam and identify any misconceptions demonstrated in learning, and use these as the base for planning your review and/or targeted whole-class/small-group sessions. If you choose to use these tasks as stations, provide sufficient modelling of the task and instructions to ensure students can fully participate in the learning at each station. You could place a large graphic organiser (e.g. A3) at each station for groups of students to fill out.

During this part of the unit, you should also consider any links that could be made between tasks and students' interests, cultural backgrounds, and learning in other curriculum areas (e.g. last week it was hot on 2 days and cold on 3 days. What do you think the temperature will be like this week?).

Station One: That's freezing

In this activity we make our own temperature gauges to use to indicate whether things are hot or cold.

  • Cardboard strips
  • Crayons
  • Pegs
  1. Ask the students to stand up if they feel cold. Discuss why they feel cold and how they decide whether they are cold.
    What other words do you use when you are cold? (chilly, freezing etc.)
    What colours do you think are cold colours? (blue, white)
    Can you think of another time when you have felt cold? (students might suggest times when it was raining, snowing, or windy)
  2. Ask the students to stand who are feeling warm. Discuss why they are feeling warm.
    What other words do you use when you are warm? (hot, boiling, cooking etc.)
    What colours do you think are warm colours? (red, orange)
    Can you think of another time when you have felt warm? (students might suggest times when it was sunny)
  3. Show the students a strip of card that is coloured from blue to red. With the class decide on the words that you are going to write on the strip to describe the temperature. Encourage students to differentiate between the different labels. You might refer to recent days that have been freezing, cold, warm, and hot. Ask students to tell a partner when they have experienced each of these temperatures. To generate further ideas you could create a large word map identifying different situations in which these temperatures have been felt.

  4. Get the students to make their own temperature chart. You might provide a template (e.g. a strip with four even sections) for students to use. Alternatively, you could use this as an opportunity to make links to fractions (e.g. let's divide our strip into four quarters).
  5. Give each student a peg to attach to their chart to indicate their temperature.
  6. Discuss other things that might be cold (ice cream, fridge, winter, the ocean, etc.), and other things that might be hot (a cup of tea, the oven, a wheat bag, the road on a hot day). Refer back to your class mind map (if created) and/or discussion.
  7. Choose a few examples and ask students to place their peg on the appropriate place on their chart. If you can have an ice pack or some ice cubes and a heated up wheat bag or hot water bottle as examples, this would be helpful.
  8. Students could choose one example and draw a picture for a class display "... is hot.", or "... is cold."
  9. Use a temperature website to explore what the temperature is like in different places around the world (perhaps in places that your students relate to or have family living in). This could lead to interesting discussion around seasons, temperatures at night and during the day, differences (i.e. solved by using addition and subtraction), and the icons used to illustrate temperature. 

Station Two: Hot and cold places

In this activity we use ice-cubes to investigate hot and cold places in the room. 

  • Ice cubes (preferable inside a freezer or chilly bin)
  • Lids or saucers
  • Fridge, chilly bin, or fan (or something else to make a part of the room cold)
  • Heater (or something else to make a part of the room hot)
  • A class list and pink and blue highlighters
  1. Tell the students that parts of this room are hotter than others. You have placed some things around the room to make parts of the room hotter (e.g. heater) and colder (e.g. open fridge or chilly bin, fan). Begin by asking the students to stand in the part of the room that they think is the hottest.
    Why do you think that is a hot place?
  2. Next ask the student to stand in the coldest part of the room.
    Why is that a cold place?
  3. Show the students a cube of ice. Discuss what happens when ice is taken out of the freezer/chilly bin.
  4. Divide the class into two groups. One group should stand in the parts of the room they think are cold, and the other group should stand in the parts of the room they think are hot. On your class list, use the red (for hot) and blue (for cold) to identify which students are standing in the hot and cold areas of the room. 
  5. Explain to students that, when their cube is completely melted, they should put their hand up (or stand up). You will use the class list to record the time that each student's cube took to melt (you might display this list on the board to make it more visible to students). Give each student an ice cube. Start a timer. Record the students' times and then reflect on the list created. 
    Whose cube was first to melt?
    Whose cube was last to melt?
  6. As a class list in order the hottest to the coldest areas in the room.
  7. As a link to writing, you could have students write a sentence describing how long their ice cube took to melt in their chosen location, and comparing this to how long a friend's ice cube took to melt in a different location.

Station Three: Which is the hottest?

In this activity we order four containers of water from hot to cold.

  • Four containers filled with warm, slightly warmer ('hot'), cold, and very cold water.
  • Masking tape and a pen (for labels)
  1. Show the students a container of water.
    Can you tell whether this is hot or cold water?
    Why? Why not?
  2. With the students seated in a circle pass a container of warm water around. As they feel the water ask them to think of a word to describe the water.
  3. Share descriptions.
  4. Put four containers of water of varying temperature at the front of the class. Tell the students that they are all safe to touch.
  5. Line the students up and let them feel the water temperature in each container. 
  6. Ask them to work out the order of the containers from hot to cold. Label the containers in response to class discussion. Draw a record of this and write an accompanying sentence that draws on the ideas generated in discussion. . 
  7. Share the correct order of the container. 
    How did you know which was hottest?
    How did you know which was the coldest?

Station Four: Hot spots

In this activity we look at pictures of different places and order them from coldest to hottest.

  • Sunny beach scene
  • Set of pictures of scenes depicting a variety of climates
  • Chart paper (hot spots & cold spots)
  1. Show the students a picture of a sunny beach scene.
    What can you tell me about this picture?
    Can you tell whether it is hot or cold? What are your clues? Have you been to a place like this - was it hot or cold there?
  2. Gather a range of images from the internet or photos from travel magazines that show landscapes in different climates, places like deserts, Antarctica, jungle, beaches etc. Give each pair of students a set of images. Ask them to put them in order from the hottest to the coldest place and talk about what clues from the pictures helped them make their decisions. 
  3. As a class add the pictures to the chart labelled Hot Spots and Cold Spots
  4. Next ask the students to draw (or find in a magazine) another picture to attach to a "hot spots" and "cold spots" chart.

Station Five: Dressing up

In this activity we design clothing to match the pictures we are given.

  • A box of dressing up clothes
  • Paper for drawing
  • Set of pictures from station 4
  1. Show the students a box of dress-up clothes.
  2. Ask a volunteer to find the clothes that you could wear on a hot day.
  3. Discuss the choice.
  4. Ask a volunteer to find the clothes that you could wear on a cold day.
  5. Discuss the choice.
  6. Give each student a picture of a different scene. Ask them to decide whether it is a hot or cold place.
  7. Next ask the students to think about the type of clothes that a person should wear if they were to visit that place. Ask them to draw a picture of themselves dressed in the clothes.
  8. Display the drawings with the pictures.
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Level One