The A to Z Science series for toddlers and preschoolers at Inspiration Laboratories continues with the letter T. T is for Temperature. Learn about measuring heat and practice using thermometers with these fun activities.
T is for Temperature
Temperature is a measurement of heat. It tells us how hot or cold something is. It’s easy to introduce kids to the concept of temperature.
Temperature Investigations Outside
Measure different temperatures of rocks outside. Choose rocks that are different colors or sizes. Compare the difference between rocks in the shade and rocks in the sun.
Touch the rocks with your hands. How would you describe the temperature of the rocks? Do they feel cold, cool, warm, or hot. (If you think the rocks will be too hot to touch, skip the touching.) Use an infrared thermometer to take the surface temperature of the rocks. (Use caution with the laser.)
Take the temperature of the same rock at different times during the day or at the same time on different days. What patterns do you notice?
Temperature Investigations Inside
Teach your child how to read a thermometer and learn about temperature with this simple investigation.
- clear containers (we used juice glasses)
- alcohol thermometer (don’t use a mercury thermometer with children)
Add different temperatures of water to the clear containers. We used room temperature water (about 21°C or 70°F), hot tap water (36°C or 97°F), and ice cold water (4°C or 39°F).
Measure the water temperatures with a thermometer and observe what happens to the liquid in the thermometer as the temperature changes.
We measured the room temperature water first. I asked Aiden what number was at the top of the blue line. He said 20. (It was slightly above 20.) He took the temperature of the water with the infrared thermometer and it read 20.7°C.
Next he placed the thermometer in the warm water. The blue liquid rose. I asked Aiden what that meant about the temperature. He said it was higher. I asked him if the water was warmer or colder than the first glass. He said warmer.
I asked Aiden to predict what will happen to the liquid in the thermometer when he places it in the cold water. He said it would go down. I asked him what that meant about the temperature. He said it was colder.
Modifications for Toddlers
For toddlers, I would focus on feeling the different temperatures of water in addition to showing them how to read the thermometer. (Make sure the water is not too hot for them.) Have them watch the liquid in the thermometer go up or down. Have them predict what will happen when you change the water temperature.
More STEM Ideas
This post is part of the A-Z STEM Activity Series organized by Little Bins for Little Hands. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The posts in this series focus on one or more of these topic. Be sure to check out all of the posts for STEM ideas throughout the month of January.
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