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Extreme Weather and its Impact on Nature

Context for this Lesson


Topic: Extreme Weather & Its Impact
Purpose: To discover how people and the environment are affected by extereme weather and how this knowledge might impact decisions in our lives.
Prior Knowledge: None

  • Headlines
  • Poster
  • Paper
  • Markers

Artifact - Headlines
Introduction: “I discovered these mysterious headlines, but I can’t quite seem to put the pieces together. I was wondering if you could use your observation skills to help me understand what might be happening? If we were to look at these headlines like scientists, how might we be examining them? What might we be looking for?”
Pass out a copy of the first headline to each group. Remind them to examine it carefully and to make observations before making a hypothesis

  • What did you observe? What do we know from looking at this headline?
  • What kind of hypothesis can we make from what we know so far?

Pass out the additional two headlines and stop ask the questions after adding each.
Final Discussion Questions:

  • What did you observe? What do we know from all of the headlines?
  • What is your hypothesis? What kind of story can we infer from these pieces of information? Who? What? Where? When? Why? How



Sharing Information and Pre-Role
As you may have determined from the headlines. There are some ants living in an ant mound and their mound is in danger. Today, we are going to take on the role of these ants. In just a moment, I will shrink you all down, so you can attend a very important press conference. But, before we do so, I am going to ask you to think about who you will be in this story.

  • What kind of ant are you?
  • What is your role in the mound?
  • What kind of job do you have?
  • Do you have family members?
  • How long have you lived in the mound?

Teacher in Role – The Press Conference
1. Going into role

I am going to count down from ten to one and when I get to one you will no longer be students, but ants in the ant mound. You can show me your character by the way you sit and in your facial expressions. You will see me wearing this hat, which means that I am no longer your teacher, but Alfred the assistant to the Queen.
2. Press Conference
Alfred: Hello and welcome. The queen is very sorry she could not attend, but as always she is busy attending to her babies. As you all know, our ant mound is located in the park of East Austin Community Center. We have lived here for the past 100 years. The East Austin Community Center was built 10 years ago.  Each year they have an annual picnic and they invite the entire community. Each year more and more people come.  In the first year, only 22 people came. Last year, 1,213 people came!
Each year our mound has looked forward to the picnic because the humans drop so much food.  As the crowds grew, so did the amount of food for us! Unfortunately, the larger crowds have also meant greater danger for the safety of our mound.
Three years ago, a dog ran across our mound and damaged 20% of it.  It took us 2 months to rebuild and we were all exhausted from the effort. Two years ago, a toddler sat on our mound.  We let her know right away that she better move it, but we lost over 50% of our mound.  It took us 6 months to repair the damage and rebuild, and we had to cancel several field trips and foraging expeditions because there was so much work to be done.
Last year, an old man stepped on our mound ruining 20% of it.  Then, some kids saw us trying to help the injured and assess the damage.  Well, they came over and started jabbing sticks into the mound and stirring it all up.  They damaged 40% of our mound.  The worst part is, they left the sticks sticking out of the mound.  It took us all year to repair our mound.
The park is having its annual picnic in two weeks! The Queen believes that for the sake of everyone’s safety and the future of this colony that it’s time to leave. I am here to hear your comments and answer any questions.
3. Allow for student comments and questions in role
Teacher in Role – Elder Ant

1. Played also by teacher or by an assistant. Elder ant enters.
Elder Ant: I have lived on this hill my entire life. My family has been around since the first picnics began. What about the holes we dug, the hard work we endured to build this colony. This place represents more than where we live, it represents our colony. Our fore founding fathers discovered this ground and built a hill from the ground up. We can’t leave now when we have worked so hard. What about the beauty of this place? The tall grass and the cool shade of the picnic table?
2. Allow for student comments and questions in role
Writing in Role – Letter to the Queen
1. Divide students into a group of those who support the move and another group of those who want to keep the colony where it currently lies.
2. Each group is going to write a letter to the queen that either supports her decision to move or provides reasons for why we should stay. Use evidence from the headlines, press conference, and our discussion to back up your claim. Make sure that each member of the group gets to have their thoughts shared in the letter.
3. Share letters with class
Step out of role: When I count down from ten to one you will no longer be ants, but your everyday selves.



  • What did we do today?
  • What decisions did we make?


  • Was this experience realistic? If not how was it different than real life?
  • What was it like to play a role?
  • How was your role different than you? Did you agree with the views of your character?


  • In your life, how does nature impact your decisions?
  • What examples of nature changing peoples’ lives, have you seen in the news?
  • What makes people want to go? Stay?