The Four Seasons

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In this lesson that includes hands-on activities and demonstrations, learners discover that it is the tilt of the Earth's axis (not its proximity to the sun) that causes the seasons. Learners will complete a reading and physical activity (in pairs or as a group) from National Geographic's "A Reason for the Season" activity page. Then, the educator will lead a demonstration using simple props to show visually the "tilt" of the Earth and how different areas receive more intense sunlight throughout the year. To reinforce what they've learned, learners can complete the "cosmic map" online interactive featured on the "A Reason for the Season" site.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
      • Seasons
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • use mouse

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, AAAS, 2011

Funding Source:

  • Verizon Foundation Thinkfinity Program