It's Getting Hot in Second Grade Math: Let's Use a Thermometer

By Kathy Foust

Thermometers are used in a variety of ways for a variety of applications. This lesson plan teaches students what thermometers are used for and how to read one.

Materials & Preparation

For this math lesson you will need to have the items listed below.

  • Wall thermometer
  • Oral thermometer
  • Meat thermometer
  • 2 glasses or cups

Explain that knowing how to use a thermometer is very important. Explain that there are different types of measurements listed on the thermometer. In the United States we use Fahrenheit. Others may use Celsius. Students should focus on the side of the thermometer commonly used. Discuss the various uses of thermometers.


Instruct students to look at the wall thermometer and determine the temperature of the room. Explain freezing point and boiling point. Draw three temperatures on a thermometer on the board. Describe three outdoor scenarios and ask students which scenario matches which temperature. For instance, you may say you are swimming at the beach. Students should pick the high temperature.

Now take a glass of very cold water and one of very hot water. Use the meat thermometer to measure the temperatures in each. Allow students to guess what the temperature may be. Tell them what the correct temperature is. Allow them to see the thermometer in the water and the temperature on it.

Now take your temperature or one of your student's temperatures. Explain that the thermometer is measuring the body's internal heat. Allow students to see the thermometer before and after you have taken someone's temperature.

Thermometers in Practice

Ask students how temperatures and thermometers affect their daily lives. Point out the facts below.

  • If the temperature outside is too low, school is canceled or delayed.
  • If the student has a fever, they should not be in school or around other people.
  • Using a meat thermometer allows us to know the internal temperature of the food and then we know when to stop cooking it.
  • The thermostat at home should make the furnace kick on when the temperature is too low or the air conditioner to kick on when the temperature is too high.
  • Making sure the bath water is not too hot is a way to prevent burns.

Have students go home and discuss thermometers and their uses with their family. How do their parents use thermometers every day?

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