Fun Temperature Activities for the Summer

The temperature is rising outside! Now is the perfect time to get excited about math and science with these 3 simple temperature-based activities; read a thermometer, make a thermometer, and temperature vocabulary word sort.

Read a Thermometer

A thermometer is a tool for measuring the temperature in the air. We use thermometers in refrigerators to make sure they are keeping our food cold enough so it will not spoil. We use thermometers in pools to monitor the levels of chlorine needed. We even use thermometers to help us select our outfits for the next day.

Most thermometers have two different forms of measurement: Celsius and Fahrenheit. Historically, Celsius has been the most widely used form of temperature measurement with a freezing temperature of 0 and boiling of 100 degrees. Fahrenheit is most commonly used in the United States. This form of measurement shows water freezing at 32° Fahrenheit.

Explain the two different sides of the thermometer to your child. Most thermometers do not list all the numbers, but have a collection of lines. Figure out the value of these lines with your child. Have them practice reading the temperature out loud. Talk about the numbers on the thermometer and what they mean. Connect these numbers to information they are interested in such as what temperature the weather is like outside or how warm their own room is.

Fun temperature fact: Your body temperature is around 98.6° Fahrenheit which is 37° Celsius.

More temperature reading practice:

  • Set a thermometer right outside your dining room window. This puts the topic of temperature front and center, making it a perfect dinner conversation starter.
  • Hand your child a thermometer and explore places within your home and classroom. How does the temperature in the freezer, fridge, living room, playground compare?
  • Chart the outdoor temperatures for one week. Exchange information with a family or classroom in another part of the world. Compare the results.
  • Take a closer look at the numerical differences between Celsius and Fahrenheit. Challenge the students to look at the number differences at boiling and freezing. Discuss the number patterns in each.
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Make a Thermometer

This classic science experiment is designed to help children understand how a thermometer works. It will not give an accurate reading, rather demonstrate how the liquid expands (rises in the straw) when warm and contracts (lowers in the straw) when cooler. Rubbing alcohol is more sensitive to heat than water and will respond much quicker. As with all experiments and activities, use standard safety procedures: cover working surfaces, use gloves and safety goggles, and make sure to experiment with the supervision of an adult.

Materials Needed:

  • Empty glass jar with lid
  • Drill and drill bit (we used 5/16)
  • Water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Food Coloring
  • Clear straw
  • Modeling clay
  • Permanent Marker

Directions to Make:

Prior to beginning this experiment, have an adult pre-drill a hole in the jar lid so that the straw will fit snugly through.

  1. Fill the jar 1/8 full with water and 1/8 full of rubbing alcohol to create a temperature sensitive liquid.
  2. Add in 3-4 drops of food coloring to help make the water more visible.
  3. Cover. Place the straw inside the hole. The straw should touch the water, but not the bottom of the jar.
  4. Secure the area around the straw on the lid with modeling clay. Swirl liquids inside jar to mix.
  5. Use the permanent marker to draw a line at the surface of the water at room temperature.
  6. Place the homemade thermometer in different areas inside and out. Explore how temperature will change the liquids in the jar. Is there a difference in temperatures outside in the sunshine versus a shaded area?

Temperature Vocabulary Sort

This activity connects vocabulary with science in a hands-on word sort. Print the following words on white copy paper. Cut into rectangles and mix. Have students work in pairs to put the words in order from coldest to warmest. For younger children, limit the temperature vocabulary to a smaller group of 5-6 words.

  • cold
  • hot
  • burning
  • scorching
  • blistering
  • warm
  • chilly
  • frigid
  • humid
  • icy
  • frosty
  • glacial
  • freezing
  • cold
  • nippy

Does your child enjoy hands-on explorations? Make sure to check out your local Sylvan course offerings. Their new EDGE programs are a fabulous way to help give your child the STEM-based experiences to develop a deeper understanding about the world.

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We'd love to talk with you about how we can help your child reach his or her individual goals!