Welcome Educators! This teacher's guide was produced by the National Center for Atmospheric Research as a companion to the Climate Discovery exhibit at our Boulder, Colorado laboratory. It contains lessons appropriate for grades 5-9 on a variety of Earth system science topics that facilitate student learning about our planet's climate system.

Investigating Climate Past:
The Little Ice Age Case Study

In this unit, students explore how scientists study climates of the recent and ancient past. Students model the methods of scientists through inquiry activities, investigating real data to learn more about changes in climate over the past millennium.

Click on the links to the right to open the lesson plans within this unit. All lessons are in pdf format and require Acrobat Reader to open.

(Click to download the free Acrobat Reader.)

1 Differences Between Weather and Climate

2 Natural Records of Climate Change: Working with Indirect Evidence

3 Living During the Little Ice Age

4 Where Have All the Glaciers Gone?

5 Trees: Recorders of Climate Change

6 Blooming Thermometers

7Sunspots and Climate

8 Dark Skies: Volcanic Contributions to Climate Change

9 Summary Lesson: Understanding Climate and Climate Change


Climate Discovery Teacher's Guide

For more information:

  • Project Coordinator: Susan Foster
  • Scientist: Caspar Ammann
  • Educational Designer: Lisa Gardiner
  • Teacher Consultants: Barbara Monday, Stephanie Weber, Doug Haller

Funding for this project was provided by the NCAR Strategic Initiative and the NCAR Opportunity Fund.