Lunar and Planetary Institute






Seasons

In Texas, teachers are expected to teach the seasons, both as an example of an observable pattern of change, and as a part of understanding the Sun-Earth system.

K.5 B The student is expected to observe and identify patterns including seasons, growth, and day and night and predict what happens next
K.7 C / 1.7 C The student is expected to observe and record weather changes from day to day and over seasons
2.7 D The student is expected to observe, measure, and record changes in weather, the night sky, and seasons
4.6 A The student is expected to identify patterns of change such as in weather, metamorphosis, and objects in the sky
5.6 A The student is expected to identify events and describe changes that occur on a regular basis such as in daily, weekly, lunar, and seasonal cycles
7.13 A The student is expected to identify and illustrate how the tilt of the Earth on its axis as it rotates and revolves around the Sun causes changes in seasons and the length of a day

This can be a difficult subject to teach; if teachers attempt to teach the causes of the changing seasons too early, students who are unable to conceptualize a three-dimensional model of the Sun-Earth system will create their own preconceptions.  Also, many adults have mistaken notions of the causes of the seasons.

Preliminary Concepts
In order to understand the cause of the seasons, students need to understand that the Earth orbits the Sun, that the Earth's orbit is almost a perfect circle, and that the Earth's degree of tilt does not change dramatically.

Misconceptions and Educational Research

Activities about Seasons:
K– 5th Grades: Observing the Seasons
7th and 8th Grades: the Reason for Seasons

Content Resources for the Pre-Service Educator

Potential Questions or Issues