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Climographs: Temperature, Precipitation, and the Human Condition

National Geographic Xpeditions Archive

In this activity, students learn how to read, analyze, and construct climographs. These climographs are a graphic way of displaying monthly average temperature and precipitation. Students also practice matching climographs to various locations and summarize global-scale climate patterns revealed by comparing climographs.

Activity takes about four to six hours.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

World's climate definition
About Teaching Principle 2
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Climate's role in habitats ranges and adaptation of species to climate changes
About Teaching Principle 3
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Definition of climate and climatic regions
About Teaching Principle 4
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Climate is not the same thing as weather – defining difference
About Teaching Principle 4
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Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
Other materials addressing:
E) Organizing information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Perhaps go through African geography with class to familiarize them with the continent vs countries vs cities in Africa.
  • Students may need direction in converting inches to centimeters and Fahrenheit to Celsius.
  • Students may need help reading and creating graphs, e.g., dealing with changing ranges on y-axes.
  • Not all the vocabulary is related, but may still be useful.
  • MapMaker interactive tool may be useful in other activities.
  • Can teach about/highlight seasonality in different hemispheres using this activity.
  • Can compare past data to current data (e.g. compare last 10 yrs to last 50 yrs) to look more into climate change and interpreting their graphs.
  • Could link activity to climate normals data.

About the Science

  • Well-structured, clear use of basic climate information to help students build general climate patterns on the planet. Excellent activity for students to gain practice working with data and x-y plots.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Learning is carefully scaffolded so that students understand climate zones and what can be gleaned from analyzing climate data.
  • Builds critical thinking skills through making hypotheses before actually doing the activity.
  • Includes relevance to agricultural and human health issues.
  • Builds quantitative skills and data analysis skills.
  • Uses real data.
  • Has thoughtful questions and assessment suggestions.
  • Conversion of units is addressed.
  • Excellent resource with great links to additional materials.
  • Direction for addressing diverse students is included.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Detailed instructions and worksheets are provided.
  • The African climate zones link does not work.

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