Causes of Seasons Foldable: A Lesson on the Effects of a Tilted Earth

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Please click the "Preview" button to see a mid-level foldable completed.

This interactive folding notes page is designed to visually model for students that the revolution of Earth with a tilted rotational axis is the cause of the seasons. It helps students understand the relationship between a tilted Earth and seasonal characteristics including temperature, angle of sun rays, intensity of solar energy, and length of day and night in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Often we only teach students about seasons from the perspective of the Northern Hemisphere, causing students to build misconceptions. This folding notes pages helps student compare and contrast the seasonal changes in BOTH hemispheres as it relates to the tilt of the Earth. It is important that students understand that the reason Earth experiences seasonal changes is because its rotational axis is tilted. This notes page helps students understand this concept.

The notes portion under each tab is fill-in-the-blank with cut and paste on some versions. This foldable is designed for a middle school audience but could certainly be used in a high school astronomy unit as well. This download includes 3 different versions so you can decide which one best fits your students’ needs. In addition to the 3 versions, I have also provided 4 different levels of each of those versions (1 of those 4 is the key). So, to summarize, you have 12 different options to choose from. Page 3 and 4 provide an example of one of those 12 options.

1. Choose which of the 12 foldable options you want to use with your students.
2. Print/copy one per student.
• Remember this foldable must be copied (or printed) front/back. On my printer, I must select the “short-edge binding” option in my printer’s layout/2-sided printing settings. It can be printed in color or black/white and then colored by students.
3. Direct your students to fold and cut as shown.
4. If you printed/copied in black and white, have students color their foldable. I recommend projecting the PDF of the version you chose to use and allow them to color their foldable using that projected color version as a key.
5. The teacher should lead a discussion on seasons and how the tilt of the Earth plays an essential role in causing seasonal change while helping students fill in the blanks under each tab. It is important to note that some versions/levels require students cut and paste illustrations (or draw them in). How you have students complete the foldable is totally up to your teaching style… have fun with it.
6. This foldable becomes much more valuable if students process its contents once it is completed. I recommend using “turn-and-tell stems” to help with this processing piece. In “turn-and-tells,” students turn to an elbow partner (you can also use other creative partnering techniques to mix it up) and complete a stem that is projected on the board. The following stems give you a few examples of what I would use in my classroom:
o During summer months in the Southern Hemisphere, plants are able to grow very efficiently. Use the images in the foldable to explain why this is true.
o Without looking inside your foldable, describe the angles of sun rays and intensity of sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere during the June Solstice.
o Look at the images of the Earth orbiting the Sun on the front of the tabs. Explain to your partner which direction Polaris would be and how you know this.
o During solstices, the northern pole of the Earth is either tilted away or toward the Sun. This is different from the equinoxes because… (Explain using the images provided in the foldable.)

© Marianne Dobrovolny –

Key words: seasons, tilt, tilted, axis, rotational, revolution, tilted Earth, causes, winter, summer, fall, spring, solstice, equinox
Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
45 Minutes

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Causes of Seasons Foldable:  A Lesson on the Effects of a
Causes of Seasons Foldable:  A Lesson on the Effects of a
Causes of Seasons Foldable:  A Lesson on the Effects of a
Causes of Seasons Foldable:  A Lesson on the Effects of a
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