Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Thermometers Rising

Laura Windham
Citrus County Schools


Students love this hands-on activity while they demonstrate the ability to accurately read a Fahrenheit thermometer. Students use actual thermometers and enjoy thermometer stamps.


The student knows temperature scales and uses thermometers.


-1 Classroom demonstration thermometer
-1 Student thermometer per student
-1 Thermometer stamp and ink pad per group
-1 Sheet of plain white paper per student


Gather a class set of thermometers, a demonstration thermometer, thermometer stamps, ink pads, plain white paper, red pencils


1. Display a large, classroom demonstration thermometer.

2. Build student background knowledge by noting the structure of a thermometer, (Include the scale, and the red substance inside the thermometer.)

3. Ask the students: What do the numbers represent? (degrees) How are the numbers listed? (by tens) Draw students’ attention to the lines between the numbers listed on the thermometer. Remind them that this is called the scale. Direct the students to count the number of lines between the numbers. Ask: Why are there only 4 lines instead of 9? (each line represents 2 degrees instead of 1)

4. Ask: What is the job or purpose of the red substance? (It rises according to the temperature.)

5. Ask: How do we read a thermometer? Note the line where the red substance stops. Use the demonstration thermometer to model using your finger to line up the red line with the scale. Ask: What number does the red line, line up with? If it doesn’t stop at a number, how do we read it? Instruct students to refer to the scale. Ask: What does each line represent? 1 or 2? What was the last number to which the red line rose? Take that number and add on according to the increments on the temperature scale. For example, if the last number that the red line rose to is 50 and the red line is now 3 lines above that number and each line represents 2 degrees, then add on 6, in order to read the temperature as 56 degrees.

6. Distribute student thermometers. Allow students to handle and compare their thermometers with the features on the demonstration thermometer. Help them find the scale. Ask them to read their thermometers. Explain that the temperature they read is a measurement of the air temperature. Circulate and assess their readings. When inaccuracies are noted, redirect their attention to the demonstration thermometer. Can students note where the red line ends? Show them how to use their finger as a guide. If they are having difficulties, redirect them to use their finger or a straight edge, such as a piece of paper to line up the red line with the scale.

7. Ask: What causes the red line to rise in the thermometer? Allow students to handle their thermometers. Most will discover that placing their hand over the bulb will cause the red line to rise. Guide those who do not discover this on their own.

8. Instruct the students to read their thermometers again. The temperature increases. Ask: Why did this occur? (Their hands warmed the solution causing it to rise in the thermometer.)

9. Provide each group with ink pads and a thermometer stamp. Allow students to use the thermometer stamps on plain white paper. Instruct students to draw with a red pencil to the temperature readings they took. This demonstrates their knowledge of using a scale because they can reproduce what they read. Tell students write the temperatures beneath their thermometer graphics.

10. Close the lesson by having selected students share their temperature readings and explain how they read their thermometers.


Students demonstrate knowledge by accurately reading a Fahrenheit thermometer and creating a graphic to illustrate their readings.
The teacher formatively assesses by observations of students’ temperature readings and students who have difficulty should be noted for further guidance and practice with the demonstration and actual thermometers. The teacher examines the students' graphics of their thermometers and checks for accuracy.


Students could take daily temperature readings and record them on a calendar. These temperatures could then be recorded using a line graph to show changes over a period of time.
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