Sunlight Hours and Effects on Human Activity
Written by Lara Scott and Anissa Pesce

Topic: Effect of Daylight Hours On Human Activity

Objective #1: Working together as a class, students will determine the average hours of daily sunlight for each month of the year by constructing a bar graph.

Objective #2: Using the information from the graph, students will make connections between amount of daily sunlight and temperature.

Objective #3: Given an assortment of activity cards, students will sort the activities into those that are mostly done during daylight hours from those carried out during evening or nighttime hours.

Objective #4: After sorting activity cards on a Venn Diagram, students will make connections about how sunlight hours and temperature can affect their activities.

Essential Element: Physical Systems

Standard #7: The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface

Knowledge Statement #3: How Earth-Sun relations affect conditions on Earth

Geographic Skills: Acquiring geographic information, Organizing geographic information, Analyzing geographic information

Geographic Themes: Human Environment Interaction, Place, Location

Purpose: Students will develop an understanding of how the amount of daylight hours varies by month and how that affects both temperature and their activities.

Materials: Graph axis, sunlight strips, Venn Diagram poster, a set of activity cards (see part 4 of lesson presentation)

Preparation prior to teaching lesson:
To prepare for the lesson, go to the web site to find the data for the monthly average amount of daylight hours for a city nearest to you.


  1. Opening
  2. Class graph
  3. Discussion of observations
  4. Group activity
  5. Questions
  6. Conclusion

Lesson Presentation:

  1. Open the lesson by having children looking outside. Students will observe what they see in terms of sunlight. Ask them how late into the day they think the sun will still be shining.

    1. Make a list of what students will do after dinner tonight. (Will there still be sunlight? Will their Mactivities be different if there will not be any sunlight after dinner?)

    2. Make a list of activities students state they will be doing.

    3. Discuss whether having sunlight or whether the lack of sunlight will influence the type of activities they might do.

    4. Ask them to predict which month(s) has the most or least amount of sunlight.

  2. Construct a class bar graph by placing bar strips on the graph to find out which month(s) does have the most light.

    1. As a class predict the number of daylight hours for a particular month and place bar strip on graph.

    2. Students whose birthday corresponds to the next month to be graphed will go to the bar graph and predict how much sunlight their birthday month has compared to the previously graphed month.

    3. Using the chosen month, have class predict how much light there is, place the bar on the graph, and help students see how to find the amount of hours by reading across to the Y axis.

    4. As students go to the board ask them to predict if their sunlight bar is longer or shorter (more or less light) than the previous month. Was the class' prediction of the month with most sunlight correct?

    5. Ask the class if the bar graph has a pattern. For example: Summer months have longer length bars. Winter months have shorter length bars.

    6. Make a conclusion: Less light contributes to colder temperatures. More sunlight contributes to warmer temperatures.

  3. Brainstorm how this pattern of light and temperature can affect human activity. (E.g., "We can't play outside as much in the months with less light." "It gets cold out, so we don't play outside as much.")

  4. Group activity

    1. Break class into groups of 4-6. Each group receives a packet of the following activity cards: Activities - Baseball; Swimming; Hiking; Flying a kite; Playground activities - Soccer; Gardening; Playing in the snow; Riding a bike; Skateboarding/Rollerblading;Ice skating; Watching TV; Playing video games; Reading stories; Talking on the phone; Playing an instrument; Cooking on a stove; Listening to radio; Playing "dress-up;" Doing homework; Computer; Sleeping

    2. Using the Venn Diagram poster and the activity cards, students will decide which activities are either more suitable to occur outside in the sunlight, indoors because of outdoor darkness, or whether the activity might happen regardless of whether there is sunlight or because of temperature conditions.

    3. Each group places activity cards on the Venn Diagram poster and explains why their choice of placement on the Diagram.

  5. Question students to connect the activity just completed with the graph earlier. Develop questions that ask students to consider how the amount of daylight hours and outdoor temperatures affect the activities they might do in specific months.

  6. Conclusion: Encourage the students to see how the amount of daylight affects temperature and how both in turn affect daily activities.


Geography for life: National Geography Standards 1994. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society.


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