Young People's Trust for the Environment

We are delighted to have worked with the Young People’s Trust for the Environment to develop a four lesson scheme of work looking at heatwaves.

This package of lesson plans consists of 4 lessons:

  • Lesson 1: What are heatwaves?
  • Lesson 2: Why are heatwaves dangerous?
  • Lesson 3: How can schools prepare for a heatwave?
  • Lesson 4: What is your school like during a heatwave and how could it be improved?

By the end, students should be able to show which places in the school are most affected by extreme heat, understand what measures could be put in place to reduce the impact of extreme heat and be able to present their learning and research. 

You are welcome to modify the lessons by adding your own slides to the presentations, or deleting ones you don’t need.

The lessons have been designed to support learners in Key Stage 2 (or equivalent) with understanding more about heatwaves, the reasons why we are likely to face more of them in the future and some steps that schools can take to protect young people during these events. The lessons can be adapted to suit other age groups by modifying the information given in the linked notes.

Heatwaves lesson plans  – notes for teachers, start here!


PowerPoint (higher resolution)

Additional Resources:










Climate Change Transition Day

Notes for Person Delivering the Event

These resources are designed to be used in one session with year 6 (10/ 11 year old) students. Although they will support numeracy, literacy and various other aspects of the curriculum, they are designed to prepare students for secondary school rather than support the year 6 curriculum.

There are 6 suggested activities. Although they are designed to be run sequentially, you may choose to use only some of the activities, or to supplement them with your own ideas.

You may like to ask them to summarise their learning after each activity – this could be on post it notes on a cloud, or …

It should be possible to use these activities with any class size.

Many people, including Ellie Highwood, Cristina Charlton-Perez, Helen Johnson and Laila Gohar, have
contributed to these resources.

1) The difference between weather and climate

Time: 30 minutes

You will need: Weather or Climate.pptx, one printed copy of Weather or Climate.docx for each pair of students and two dice per pair of students.

a) Show the images in the PowerPoint presentation and ask the students what each image shows and whether it is ‘weather’ or ‘climate’. Some may not have a clear answer!
b) Ask the students to get into pairs and give each pair one sheet and two dice.
c) Give them 5 minutes to roll both dice and record the combined score each time they roll as a tally chart.
d) Optional: ask them to turn this tally into a bar chart on the graph paper provided.
e) Can they predict what number they would roll next, if they had the chance?
f) Talk about how the graph shows the most likely score (the climate) but also the complete range of possible scores (the weather). What scores are ‘extreme’?
g) What happens to the numbers if the ‘1’ on one of the dice is changed into a ‘7’?

2) Climate change graph

lollipop sticks

Time: 30 minutes

You will need: 120 multicoloured lollipop sticks (at least 10 sticks each of 6 colours), Climate_Change_Picture.pptx, lollipop.xls, blue tack or similar

Note: this probably works best with groups of about 6 students working on each graph, with larger groups more teacher involvement will be required to keep the whole group engaged.
a) Before the event, mark on the middle of each lollipop stick. On each stick, write the year and the temperature for one of the data points in the spreadsheet (e.g. 1970 14.47), differentiating between global and CET data. Use a different coloured lollipop for each decade – so the 60s are all one colour etc.
b) You’ll also need to print a blank graph – the document supplied will work on A3 paper.
c) Divide the students into two groups. Within each group, divide out the lollipop sticks.
d) They should then work together to stick the sticks to the graphs in the right places.
e) Whilst doing so, they can look at years that mean something to them – the year they were born, their parents were born etc.
f) When they’ve finished, ask them to complete the table on the ppt
g) What does their graph show? What surprises them? What are the similarities and differences between the graphs?
h) Optional: take the sticks back off the graph and, within their groups, line the sticks up in temperature order with the coldest on the left and the warmest on the right. What does this show?

3) Climate change lucky dip

Time: 30 – 60 minutes

You will need: Lucky dip bag of things that have some link (vague or otherwise) to climate change. Each group takes an object, and then together works out what the connection is. After 10 mins groups swap
objects until all groups have seen all objects. (You could make a simple worksheet with a box for them to write their ideas for each item).
At the end – ask for feedback on each object and give them the “correct answer” – this can take a while – if you have 4 objects, this would make a 60 minute activity. I think they lose interest after 4 objects.

Example objects, depending on what you have available. Try and use objects which have both obvious and higher level ideas associated with them. Try and balance ‘doom and gloom’ with ‘opportunity and hope’ ideas.

Toy car: Emissions of greenhouse gases, also ozone and air pollution. Move talk
onto electric vehicles, nighttime charging etc.

Tree ring slice: Tree rings are an indirect way of measuring our climate etc, trees remove
carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, forestation and deforestation.

Cuddly cow: Methane – but you could also talk about the climate impact of beef etc. as
that is now much more talked about.

Butterfly brooch: Most of the kids talk about different species adapting to climate change (they do evolution in year 6) but you can also refer to chaos and internal links between different parts of the climate system

Mini trainer shoe: Some “air” trainers used to have SF6 in which is a really strong
greenhouse gas. You could also use baby shoes to represent babies and population growth. Also transportation – where were these shoes made?

Mirror: Geo-engineering and space mirrors – but can also explain albedo in this

Solar powered toy: Renewable energy sources

Windmill: Renewable energy sources, changing weather patterns

Bag of rice: Methane production, plants as absorbers of CO2

Cuddly polar bear, puffin or other iconic animal threatened by climate change.

Sponge: Link to bleaching coral reefs and plankton as photosynthesisers equivalent to land plants.

Chocolate bar: Clearing of rainforests for production and threat to cocoa plants as
temperature rises.

Bottle of frozen water: Melting glaciers and ice caps; link to albedo and positive feedback;
hydrogen fuel

Piece of charred wood: Sustainable fuels; increased forest fires.

4) Weather risk game

Time: 30 minutes

You will need: money.docx printed in colour, WeatherRiskGame.pptx, 6 dice – large ones which the whole class can see work best. I got some foam ones very cheaply.

a) Before the event, mark the dice ‘p’ and 1-5. On the die marked 1, cross out or otherwise mark one side, on the die marked 2 cross out or otherwise mark two sides etc.

foam dice

b) Use the ppt to guide the activity.
c) The students will need to get into 6 groups. Give each group one colour of money and ask them to cut it up. You should keep the ‘insured’ slips.
d) Each time you play, roll the P dice first. On the basis of which side it shows, the students should decide whether to insure their businesses or not (if a 6 is shown, then there is no chance of bad weather and presumably no-one will insure). If they choose to insure, they should pay you the appropriate sum in return for an ‘Insured’ slip. Then, roll the appropriate die (so if the P die gave a 3, next roll the die labelled 3). If a crossed-out side is rolled, then anyone who was not insured should pay you the appropriate sum.
e) Collect in all the insured slips and start again.
f) Continue until either one team, or all teams except one are out, depending on time.

5) Flooding, floating gardens and raft building

Time: 2.5 hours

You will need: Laptop and projector (for PowerPoint)
Whiteboard or flipchart for recording “purchases” by teams and competition results
5 or 6 small ziplock bags containing soil or sand and representing the crops of the garden.
Large and deep plastic box for use as “lake”
Access to water
Bundles of building materials e.g. plastic straws, lolly sticks, willow sticks, elastic bands, string, corks
Tape dispenser and scissors for each team
Additional materials for teams to “purchase” e.g. small plastic bottles with lids, plastic trays, bubble wrap, bags (anything else you can think of).
Topic: Flooding and climate change, developing world, adaptation.
Skills: teamwork, raft building, communication, budgeting, testing

Based on the Flooding Gardens activity from Practical Action.

• Short powerpoint on flooding and impact of climate change. (15 mins)
• Set up problem of agriculture in Bangladesh (5 mins)
• Design and build of floating garden rafts according to specification in the power point (see also
below) – 40 mins including one opportunity for testing design
• Public competition – 20 mins
• Final few slides on real life application – 10 mins
Plus need a bit of time to set up in advance and definitely some to pack / clear up afterwards

Raft building part:
Each team needs to build a raft that could hold a floating garden. The winner is the team that builds a raft that can hold the most weight (small bags of soil) without the top surface of the raft being inundated with water. If using the budgeting version, secondary awards for cheap designs that work (although maybe not quite as well as the expensive ones).

Students are provided with a bag containing e.g. straws, willow sticks, elastic bands, sellotape dispenser, scissors, corks, lolly sticks. These represent “free” and available materials.

Also available are plastic bottles, plastic trays, bubble wrap and anything else you can think of – but these are kept at the front and have a price attached to them. The actual value you give them is arbitrary but they are supposed to represent things that are scarce in the communities we are considering. For example, plastic bottles might represent sealed oil drums, bubble wrap might be tarpaulins etc.

(Note, all materials can and should be recovered at the end of the session – the rafts are broken down and materials reused on other occasions).

With a year 6 group, you should be able to get them to discuss and draw out their design as a team first (maybe first 10 mins of building section), then send one person to get what they need (including paying – I haven’t given them a budget as such, just kept a record of what they have “spent”, but you could give each group a fixed budget if you wanted to (and then judge your winner differently).

6) Greenhouse Effect Bulldog

Time: 30 minutes
You will need: A playground. Chalk or similar. Hats or sashes (see below).
This playground game demonstrates the way Greenhouse gases return energy to the Earth’s surface – as well as allowing the students to run off some energy!
a) With chalk or similar, mark a Sun and an Earth at opposite ends of the school playground. If possible also draw a line across the playground, a third of the way between the Earth and the Sun.
b) Choose 2 students to be greenhouse gases – if possible give them a hat or sash to identify them.

Which greenhouse gases have they heard of? One could be water and the other carbon dioxide.

They are allowed to move only along the line you have drawn. Their role is to try and touch the other students as they run past but only when they are running from the Earth towards the Sun!
c) The other students are all ‘energy’ and start off by the Sun.
d) The ‘energy’ should run to the Earth and back again, repeatedly. If the ‘greenhouse gas’ students manage to touch them, then they have to run 10 times between the greenhouse gas line and the Earth before being allowed to return to the Sun.
e) After a few minutes of doing this, stop the students and increase the numbers of ‘greenhouse gas’ students – you could add a methane, or another water.
f) Again, let them play this for a while, then stop them and ask what has changed. They should notice that there is now more ‘energy’ trapped near the Earth.
g) You could increase the amount of greenhouse gas again and let them see what happens.
h) Finish by talking about how greenhouse gases are essential to maintaining our climate, but that increasing the amount of greenhouse gas leads to heating. You may need to talk a little bit about the different forms energy can take – light, heat etc.

greenhouse bulldog

Weather and Climate worksheet

Background Information:

Climate is the average weather over a long time period (30 years) for a particular region or place. The climate affects a number of environmental factors within the region including the type and growth of vegetation and wildlife. The climate is determined by large scale factors such as the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, the position of the continents and the composition of the atmosphere. Weather describes the short-term state of our atmosphere. This may include information about the air temperature, precipitation, air pressure and cloud cover. Our local weather changes daily due to the movement of air in our atmosphere.

Experiences and Outcomes:

I can investigate the relationship between climate and weather.

two dice tally

Difference between weather and climate

You will need:

2 dice

Tally chart for numbers 2-12 Graph paper


In pairs, throw the two dice about 100 times and record the combined score shown each time. 

Draw a bar graph of the results.


The results should show a smoothish distribution, with a score of 7 being most frequent. Ask each group to predict what their score will be if they throw the dice one more time – they can’t. However, with one more throw, the mean of all the scores will stay about the same (about 7). In the same way, the weather may be very different from day to day but the climate, the weather we ‘expect’, stays about the same.

If you don’t have access to dice, you can do this activity online at https://www.metlink.org/blog/weather-climate-extreme-weather-and-chaos-theory/ 


Can the students design a concept cartoon to illustrate the difference between weather and climate? See https://www.stem.org.uk/system/files/elibrary-resources/legacy_files_migrated/1292WEATHER.PDF and http://www.millgatehouse.co.uk/concept-cartoons-research/ 


A YouTube video showing an owner and his dog, as an analogy for weather and climate

Beast from the East

Broad General Education (BGE)

Second Level: People, Place and the Environment

I can describe the physical processes of a natural disaster (extreme weather event)
and discuss its impact on people and the landscape

  • Describes the causes of a natural disaster such as a volcano, earthquake or extreme weather event.
  • Describes the impact of the natural disaster giving at least three examples for people and one for the landscape. Impact can be positive or negative.

Our Solar System

True or False?

solar system


Web page reproduced with kind permission of the Met Office

Hydrological Cycle

Label the diagram using the words and phrases.

water cycle

Words: Bedrock, River Flow, Storage, Precipitation, Transportation, Condensation, Sea (storage), Transpiration, Infiltration, Percolation, Groundwater, Absorption, Run off, Evaporation

Web page reproduced with kind permission of the Met Office


Label the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere.



Web page reproduced with kind permission of the Met Office

Day and Night


Day and Night answers

Explain what happens when the moon moves between the Sun and the Earth. What do we call this?

Comments showing the concept of shadow being cast (darkness) on the face of the Earth. This is a solar eclipse.

Web page reproduced with kind permission of the Met Office.

Day and Night

Copy and complete using the word bank at the bottom
(you will not need all of the words).

Day and Night
Day and Night sentence
Day and Night missing words

Explain what happens when the moon moves between the Sun and the Earth.

What do we call this?

Web page reproduced with kind permission of the Met Office.

Using Weather Data to Record and Interpret the Weather

Using weather data to record, interpret and predict the weather (Part 1)

Learning objectives:

  • To be able to use secondary sources of information, including aerial photographs [for example the internet]
  • To be able to analyze evidence and draw conclusions
  • To be able to recognize and explain patterns made by the data leading to basic predictions

•  http://wow.metoffice.gov.uk/home

Outline of lesson:
1. Ask the class to work in pairs or threes to develop geographical adjectives for the weather in the past few days e.g. cold, freezing, foggy, and humid.

2. Brainstorm using snowball techniques the basic elements of the weather. This should include: precipitation (including snow, rain, hail and sleet), temperature, wind speed and direction and humidity. Clearly guidance will be needed and pupils are not expected to use the correct terms.

3. Ask the class to work in pairs and write or develop a one sentence statement describing the current weather.

4. Capture some of the sentences and write up so they can be seen.

5. Review with the class and identify what is lacking from the statements – for example numbers rather than words – degrees Celsius, mm of rain.

6. So if we are to give a good description of the weather we need to be able to quantify how hot or cold it is, how much it has rained, etc..

7. Use the web link http://wow.metoffice.gov.uk/home to go to the data home page. Use the filters to select ‘WOW sites’ and ‘official observations’.

Zoom in to find the data source nearest the school, click on it and then select ‘view full observation’ and then ‘table’.
You can then edit the start and finish dates to select the last month.
Pupils will then be able to choose which data sets they want to research. We would suggest ‘air temperature’ and ‘rainfall accumulation’ over the last month.
If the data is incomplete for that weather station, you will have to find another one which is close to the school.

8. Challenge the pupils to identify how they will sort the data into less information so they could accurately plot the information on a graph. They will need to reduce the time interval or time frame, design a secondary recording table and then import the data needed. It will be important that they collect sufficient headings to make a graph meaningful. This could be completed
using Excel, or as a table on a piece of paper.

9. By the end of the lesson each group should have created tables of data illustrating the weather over the past month.

10. Develop a set of age appropriate maths questions including all 4 number operations using the data. For example, questions might include ‘how much has it rained in the last week’, or ‘what is the difference between the temperature now and the temperature this time yesterday’.

Lesson title: Using weather data to record and interpret the weather.(Part 2)

Learning objectives:

  • To be able to use secondary sources of information, including aerial photographs [for example the internet]
  • To be able to analyse evidence and draw conclusions
  • To be able to recognise and explain patterns made by the data leading to basic predictions

1. Graph paper or Excel
2. Data from last lesson
3.Film https://youtu.be/fdErsR8_NaU 

Outline of lesson:
1. Recap on the previous lesson by looking at the terms and the data collection exercise.

2. Use the video clip at https://youtu.be/fdErsR8_NaU to illustrate how important weather forecasts are and how they are made.

3. Explain that the challenge today is to develop a way of presenting the information in a way that you can ‘interpret’ and draw some idea about the connections in the weather.

4. Re-cap the key points about how graphs should be presented

5. Support the students in developing good quality graphs including Title, labelled axis with units and clearly plotted bars or lines as needed.

6. Once complete get the pupils to write a one sentence interpretation of each graph e.g. ‘over the last month the maximum temperature fell’ or ‘it is colder at night than during the day’, depending on which data they chose to represent.

7. From this statement the students could try and develop further statements using the weather station data from http://wow.metoffice.gov.uk/home. They should begin to hypothesise around what connections they may find for example, when it’s getting colder in one place, does it get colder in another place? Is it generally windier when its wetter? Does the maximum
temperature change as you’d expect with the seasons?.

Note: ongoing work can be undertaken producing monthly weather reports for the school from a local weather station. This could be developed for Gifted &Talented groups into basic forecasting e.g. can you see whether there is a link between pressure and rainfall.