Literary Science Sparks: Science, Grade 5


LAFS.5.RI.2.4: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

LAFS.5.RI.3.9: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

LAFS.5.SL.1.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on Grade Five topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  1. Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
  2. Follow agreed-upon rules of discussion and carry out assigned roles.
  3. Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments to contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.
  4. Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussion.


LAFS.6.RL.1.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

LAFS.6.RI.1.1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

SC.5.E.7.3: Recognize how air temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction, and precipitation determine the weather in a particular place and time.

SC.5.E.7.4: Distinguish among the various forms of precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, and hail), making connections to the weather in a particular place and time.

SC.5.E.7.6: Describe characteristics (temperature and precipitation) of different climate zones as they relate to latitude, elevation, and proximity to bodies of water.


Eye of the Storm

by Kate Messner

Call Number: Y FIC MESSNER, K.

Cover for Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner

Jaden Meggs lives in the near future, when disastrous mega-storms have become normal, due to climate change. Her father’s corporation, StormSafe, is developing technology to make the weather less dangerous, but when Jaden discovers it has a disturbing, secret mission in mind, she must decide whether to reveal it.

#Literary Sparks

  1. Jaden and her family and friends live in a time when massive, raging storms and tornadoes are the norm. By comparison, what types of extreme weather events do we experience today?
  2. At certain points the main characters discuss the different weather conditions that cause storms to form and dissipate (such as on pages 49 and 52). What specific conditions do they mention?
  3. How does Jaden discover what her father’s company is really up to?


Inside Weather

by Mary Kay Carson

Call Number: Y 551.5 CARSON

Book cover for Inside Weather by Mary Kay Carson

What are the key ingredients that create our planet’s weather conditions? How is weather different than climate? Or, are you wondering where the craziest storms and other wild phenomena occur? Inside Weather shows you, through a variety of fold-out pages, info graphics, and dramatic photos, and also explains how scientists collect and share meteorological data.

#Informational Sparks

  1. On pp. 17-20 review air masses and what happens when they meet. How is this like the weather in Eye of the Storm?
  2. On pp. 32 & 37, highlight the types of storms, especially the black band at the bottom that describes the world’s deadliest tornado on record. What is the most prominent type of storm in Eye of the Storm?
  3. On pp. 38-45, review & discuss weather scientists, and techniques to map, model, and predict weather. How did the characters use these tools in Eye of the Storm?

#Investigative Inquiry

Cloud in a Jar

Learning Outcomes Statement:

The Cloud in a Jar activity engages students in creating and examining a particular atmospheric phenomenon, which is also part of the water cycle. This will strengthen the core academic skills of creativity, innovation, and teamwork by having students connect ideas in new ways, observe and create unique products, and sharing responsibility. See examples of this activity here:

Materials Needed:

  • Clear glass jar with a metal lid (12 or 16 oz recommended)
  • Several ounces of boiling water, contained in either a heat-proof glass measuring cup with a spout, or a kettle
  • Can of aerosol hairspray
  • Several ice cubes

Additional Library Resources/Materials to Share:

Y 551.5 STEIFEL Forces of Nature by Chana Stiefel

Y 551.5 SILVERMAN Investigating Weather: Weather Systems by Buffy Silverman

551.553 BLUESTEIN Tornado Alley: Monster Storms of the Great Plains by Howard B. Bluestein

551.6 CANTRELL The Everything Weather Book by Mark Cantrell

372.35044 ANSBERRY 2010 Picture-Perfect Science Lessons: Using Children’s Books To Guide Inquiry by Karen Ansberry

372.35044 SKILL Skill Sharpeners, Science, Grade 5 by Evan-Moor Educational Publishers

Notes for Introduction:

We’ve been learning all about weather, including how things like temperature, pressure, and humidity affect the movement of water through our atmosphere. We don’t have a fancy storm simulator like they do in Eye of the Storm, but in today’s activity we do still get to make a simulation of a real phenomenon. We’re going to create and then observe our very own cloud. Let’s get started!

Activities Description:

Select three volunteers to assist in the activity, as each component will need to come together quickly.

  1. Remove the lid from the jar. Place the jar on a table or other flat surface. Have the first volunteer pour 1 - 2 inches of water into the jar. Lightly swirl the water around to help the jar heat up.
  2. Have the second volunteer spray hairspray into the jar, while the third volunteer fills the upturned jar lid with 3 or 4 ice cubes (however many fit).
  3. Have the third volunteer place the lid with ice cubes over the mouth of the jar, making sure it completely covers the opening.
  4. Watch as a cloud forms in the jar!
  5. Once the cloud has formed, either watch it slowly dissipate inside the jar, or release it into the air.

Questions for Feedback and Reflection:

  1. What is happening to make the cloud form? What role do you think each component (the water, the ice, etc.) is playing in the process?
  2.  What part of the water cycle does this experiment replicate?
  3. What other weather or water phenomena do you think we could recreate in a simulation? (For some examples:


When you added hot water to the jar, some of it evaporated and began moving around inside the jar in the form of an invisible vapor. The heat also warmed the air in the jar, which made it and the water vapor rise towards the top of the jar. When the warm air and vapor met the cold lid of the jar, the air became cooler. This made the water molecules slow down, which meant they could stick to each other more easily, so they began to condense into tiny droplets. The hairspray particles also helped this process, as water molecules bunch together more easily when they find a solid particle to attach to. So the water droplets and the hairspray made a cloud at the top of the jar, similarly to how they form in the sky.

For a complete, printer friendly version of this Literary Spark please click here.

#Science Sparks Content

Kids Info Bits

National Geographic Kids

Science in Context

General Science Collection

National Geographic Virtual Library

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