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Anytime Lesson Plan: California's Climate


In this activity, students will compare the Mediterranean climate in Sacramento with the humid continental climate in Washington D.C. and practice making, reading, and interpreting graphs.


In this activity, students will:

  1. compare the Mediterranean climate in Sacramento with the humid continental climate in Washington D.C.
  2. practice making, reading and interpreting graphs.


  • Mediterranean Climate Worksheet for Grades 3-5
  • Mediterranean Climate Teacher Answers


  • Mediterranean climate: a climate type that is characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters
  • continental climate: a climate type that is characterized by warm summers, cold winters, and precipitation that falls throughout the year



Print out one Climate Worksheet for Grades 3-5 for each student. Pre-made graphs have been provided in the teacher version of the activity. For younger students, these graphs can replace the student-generated graphs for answering the activity questions.


Have students brainstorm their observations about the climate in California. When is it sunny? When is it rainy? Is it the same as places on the east coast of the country?


  1. Distribute the worksheets to students and indicate Sacramento and Washington D.C. on the map. Notice that they are nearly the same latitude.
  2. Have the students graph the data on the provided graph sheets.
  3. Have the students answer the activity questions based on their observations of the data.


Discuss with the students:

  • California has a very unique climate that is affected by many factors. The Pacific Ocean, wind patterns, temperature, etc.
  • What other areas might have a similar climate? The Mediterranean Sea, the Cape region of South Africa, etc.

California Content Standards

Grade Four

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 6d. Students will construct and interpret graphs from measurements.

Grade Five

Earth Sciences

  • 4c. Students know the causes and effects of different types of severe weather.
  • 4d. Students know how to use weather maps and data to predict local weather and know that weather forecasts depend on many variables.

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 6g. Students will record data by using appropriate graphic representations (including charts, graphs, and labeled diagrams) and make inferences based on those data.



A Mediterranean climate has hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. This type of climate is also known as a subtropical summer-dry climate. Most of the rain in a Mediterranean climate falls during the winter. California is one of only five places in the world that has a Mediterranean climate. Mediterranean climates are located between 30 and 45 degrees latitude North and South and on the west coast of large land masses. This kind of climate can be found in California, around the Mediterranean Sea (including southern Europe and northern Africa), in the Cape Town area of South Africa, in central Chile, and in southwestern Australia.

California’s rainfall pattern is caused by an atmospheric high-pressure zone off the coast. High-pressure zones are areas of dense, stable air that block storms from hitting the coast. In summer, the high-pressure zone lies off the northern coast of California, sending the storms north of California and creating California’s summer-dry climate. In winter the pressure zone moves several hundred miles southward, allowing storms to approach California from the west.

Humid continental climates have warm summers, cold winters, and precipitation distributed evenly throughout the year. Snow is often a major component of this climate. The east coast of the United States experiences this type of climate. Continental climates are found at mid-latitudes and in the center of large landmasses. They can also be found in east central Europe, northern China, and northern Korea.


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