Climate Change: Prior Knowledge

What questions do we have about climate and climate change?

The focus of this session is to establish what learners already know and what they would like to find out about climate change. Bringing together questions from learners can drive the choices of future learning activities. The starter activity provides a stimulus of images to initiate discussion, but you might wish to choose a more local image or recent news story (for example from First News) to stimulate discussion. This session can also support learners with some foundational information about what climate change is.

The Natural History Museum have produced a climate change and biodiversity glossary which can be selected from and displayed in your classroom:


Glossary: Climate change and biodiversity terms | NHM


This is recommended as session one in the KS3 Climate Change unit of learning, identifying prior knowledge.


< 30 minutes


Green skills

  • Environmental Stewardship and Horticulture

Step by step

Quick starter activity

Creating a question cloud

Show learners this slide presentation of images of the impacts of climate change.

Ask learners to use these sentence stems to come up with questions to post on a class ‘question cloud’:

  • I wonder.....?
  • Why....?
  • What if...?
  • How can we...?
  • What might happen if...?

This can inform learning across a sequence of sessions. Learners may have many questions here and you may not be able to tackle them all within your sequence of sessions. Ensure that you communicate this to your learners and acknowledge the value of all questions to develop a deeper understanding of climate change and how we respond. 

Main Activity Suggestions

Suggestion 1 (indoor) 

Royal Society: What do you want to know about climate change? This resource is based on the latest evidence available to scientists and has been adapted from Climate Change Evidence and Causes, produced by the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences.

Suggestion 2 (indoor) 

Met Office: Climate change jargon busting. This resource provides an engaging card game to get learners to unpick climate change terms and create posters to clarify understanding.  

Suggestion 3 (indoor) 

Royal Geographical Society: What is the difference between weather and climate? Revising the difference between climate and weather, this activity allows learners to compare the climate with the weather on that day using World Meteorological Organization data. 

Top tips

An enquiry approach to climate education can equip learners with the skills to investigate and answer their own questions about climate change and its impacts. Drawing on disciplinary knowledge from different subject areas, use our enquiry learning guide to support you.

Concluding your session with this activity that makes use of images of climate mitigation solutions and actions can also support a feeling of hope and optimism.

Supporting a Better Future Images