Resources for Parents and Families

Are you looking for ways to engage kids in fun, age-appropriate science, but not sure how to wade through the thousands of resources available on the internet? Check out the resources below! CLEAN's network of scientists and teachers have reviewed these lessons to ensure accurate science and pedagogical effectiveness. Teach kids about Climate Change through age-appropriate videos, interactive visualizations, and hands-on science! Discussion Prompts are provided to check for understanding and promote active learning and reflection. To take it a step further, check out some of our favorite "Citizen Science Programs".

Not sure how to talk to kids about Climate Change? Sometimes Climate Change can be scary or overwhelming for younger children. Check out our "Tips for Talking About Climate Change With Kids" below.

Videos

Take Aim At Climate Change (upper elementary, middle school, high school). A catchy rap song about climate change.

Discussion Prompts: How is climate change impacting our planet? What are people doing to help mitigate climate change? What is something you can do to help with climate change?

Water, Water Everywhere (upper elementary, middle school, high school). This video looks at the water cycle through the movement of one water molecule.

Discussion Prompts: Where does water go when it evaporates? How does the sun affect water/the water cycle? How do humans affect the water cycle?

The Formation of Fossil Fuels- Earth: The Operator's Manual (upper elementary, middle school, high school). A summary on how fossil fuels are made! There are several other climate and energy related videos in the Earth's Operator's collection.

Discussion Prompts: How are fossil fuels formed? What happens if we burn fossil fuels?

A Warmer World for Arctic Animals, Sea Level Rise, and Does Climate Change Matter to Me? (middle school, high school). These videos discuss the effects of Climate Change on the planet, and the "Does Climate Change Matter to Me" videos focus on specific regions.

Discussion Prompts: What are impacts of climate change on our planet and the animals and people who live here? What are impacts associated with climate change in your region? How can you find out what people are doing to help with climate change? What is something you can do to help with climate change?

Using Real Scientific Data to Explore Climate Change

NOAA Sea Level Trends And Our Coast, and Sea Level Rise Viewer (upper elementary, middle school, high school). These visualizations allow students to explore trends in sea levels in the U.S., and allows them to zoom to specific areas to see how local communities and businesses in these communities could be affected by sea level rise.

Discussion Prompts: What do you notice about these maps? Has sea level risen or fallen in most areas? How much has sea level risen or fallen in an area near you, that you have visited, or have family/friends at? In what areas has sea level risen the most, and by how much? Where do you think sea level rise will have the largest impacts? Why do you think this? What will happen if sea level rises in a place near you, that you have visited, or have family/friends at?

Global Ice Viewer and Documenting Glacial Change (upper elementary, middle school, high school). These visualizations show how glaciers and sea-ice extent have changed from past to present, allowing students to make their own observations and reach their own conclusions about what is happening to sea ice.

Discussion Prompts: What do you notice about how ice and glaciers have changed over the years? What is your evidence? What questions come to mind? Where do you think the ice is going? How might the change in ice over time affect animals and people?

Windy (elementary, middle school, high school) is an interactive real-time weather visualizer. Viewers can see over 20 different layers of weather at any location in the world.

Discussion Prompts: What does the weather look like where you live? What direction is the wind coming from/going? What types of clouds (high, medium, low) are over your state? What relationships do you notice between different layers (for example, is there a relationship between the presence of clouds and temperature, or pressure and thunderstorms?).

NOAA View Data Exploration Tool (elementary, middle school, high school) has various map layers that viewers can explore, such as vegetation, soil moisture, fires, and the earth at night that are fun to explore.

Discussion Prompts: What types of places around the world contain the most vegetation? Why do you think this is? What areas are most susceptible to drought? Why do you think this is?

Climate Time Machine (upper elementary, middle school, high school) shows how CO2, temperature, sea ice, and sea level have changed over time.

Discussion Prompts: What do you notice about how these measures have changed over time? What do you wonder? What do you think is causing these changes?

Games & Quizzes

Catan: Global Warming (upper elementary, middle school, high school). This fun expansion pack to the Settler's of Catan board game demonstrates how Climate Change can impact humans.

Discussion Prompts: How did Global Warming affect your settlements? How did it affect other people's settlements? What choices and actions did you make that impacted you positively? What choices and actions did you make that impacted you negatively? What choices and actions did other people take that impacted you? What do you think you, and other people can do in real life to help with Global Warming?

Carbon Cycle Interactive Game (upper elementary, middle school, high school). In this activity, students learn how carbon cycles through the Earth system by playing an online game.

Discussion Prompts: What are all the places that Carbon can travel to? Which places holds the most amount of Carbon? Where can Carbon go when it leaves the atmosphere? Where does Carbon go when it leaves water or land surfaces?

What Do You Know About Climate Change (upper elementary, middle school, high school). This is a quiz testing the basic knowledge of climate change. It is part of the American Museum of Natural History's collection on climate change. There are many videos, puzzles, games, and hands-on activities located on the main website, like this interactive story puzzle

Warm Up Quiz (upper elementary, middle school, high school). This is a quiz that addresses misconceptions that many people have about Climate Change. It is part of NASA's climate webpage, where there are many other resources and activities.


 

Hands-on Experiments and Activities

These activities use materials commonly found at home

Ocean Acidification in a Cup (upper elementary, middle school, high school). This fun experiment shows how CO2 can diffuse into water causing acidification. Everyday home items can be used (there is a modification using cabbage juice)! On the main webpage there are a plethora of other activities, including several on viruses.

Discussion Prompts: What do you notice? What do you wonder? How do you know CO2 diffused into the water? What is your evidence? Where did the CO2 come from and how did it end up in the water? How is this model similar to what happens in the real world? What experiment might you try to show that diffusion also goes the other way from the water into the atmosphere?

NASA Global Warming Demonstration(upper elementary, middle school, high school). This demonstration shows how water absorbs more heat than air, and kids can do this experiment at home (with an adult if elementary age). The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has about a dozen more demonstrations that can be done at home.

Discussion Prompts: Why did the water balloon take longer to break than the balloon with air in it? How is this similar to the oceans on our planet?

Fermentation in a bag (upper elementary, middle school, high school). Using biofuels can lower green-house gas emissions. This experiment shows students how biofuels are made via fermentation.

Discussion Prompts: How are biofuels made and what are they made from? Which type of feedstock appears to work the best? What is your evidence?

Making a Solar Oven (upper elementary, middle school, high school). This activity from the Department of Energy provides background information about solar ovens and instructions on building a simple model solar cooker.

Discussion Prompts: What does a solar oven use to heat the food? How does the solar oven work? What is used to keep the heat in? How is this similar to our atmosphere (and greenhouse gases)?

What is a Model? (middle school, high school). This model is a fun kinesthetic and visual way to demonstrate how energy is transferred between the sun, earth's atmosphere, and the earth, and demonstrates how climate change is warming the atsmosphere.

Discussion Prompts: What does the exchange of tokens represent in this model? What happens to earth's temperature in a normal cycle? What happens to earth's temperature in a cycle influenced by Climate Change? How does the amount of energy on the earth and in the atmosphere during a normal cycle differ from a cycle influenced by Climate Change?


 

Other At-Home Ideas

Here we have curated a list of virtual and remote climate and energy educational resources from the CLEAN network.


 

Citizen Science Programs

Want to get more involved? Citizen science projects enable anyone to participate in scientific research. From counting penguins to observing weather, what you do depends on the project! Here are some of CLEAN's favorites:

Climate/Weather Programs

  • Globe Observer has you download an app to submit regular observations. The focus is on clouds, mosquitoes, and land cover.
  • CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, asks volunteers to take precipitation measurements every time it rains, hails or snows their area. Anyone can participate as long as they are excited about weather and have a rain gauge ($30).

Ecosystem/Phenology Programs

  • iNaturalist asks volunteers to send photos of flora and fauna to document the biodiversity of the world. It has specific projects as well as a daily observation.
  • Budburst is a program that has different projects throughout the year. The project's themes revolve around flowers, plants, and their ecosystems.

Citizen Science Web Portals

  • Zooniverse features many different citizen science projects. Many (if not all) of these projects involve classifying objects in images. The projects have simple clear instructions and feel more like a game.
  • CitSci has a database of different projects. This portal may be best used if you have an idea in mind and can search for it in the portal.


 

Tips for Talking About Climate Change With Kids

Messages about climate change can be scary, overwhelming, or confusing for pre-school or elementary aged kids. Here are some tips for how to talk to kids about climate change:

  • Messages should impart hope and trust. Re-assure them that adults and scientists are finding solutions to the problem.
  • Provide them with concrete actions to help that are within their locus of control, such as riding their bike to school or planting a tree. Focus on actions they can take vs. the problems associated with climate change.
  • Make connections to their prior experiences and their local environment- Can you link a sea-level lesson to a trip they took to the ocean? Can you have them analyze temperature data and how it has changed in their city over the past 20 years?
  • Encourage them to play and explore the outdoors. Encourage empathy building and care-taking of the environment. Kids who learn to appreciate nature at an early age are more likely to protect it when they get older.

For additional resources related to this topic, please visit the following sites:


 

Activities for Exploring Nature

Exploring and playing in nature is one of the best activities children can do if you want them to be future climate stewards! Research demonstrates that adults who spent a lot of time exploring the outdoors as kids practice more pro-environmental behaviors, such as recycling and driving less. Getting outdoors can also help with stress and emotional upset during this time of uncertainty with COVID-19. We know some of you, however, may not have easy access to the outdoors, especially right now. Luckily, bringing nature indoors, or viewing nature from a window can have the same positive effects! Have kids use all of their senses to explore nature. These resources provide tips and ideas for connecting children with nature.