Greenhouse Gases: Prior Knowledge

Begin by establishing what learners already know about greenhouse gases by using some simple retrieval activities, as well as opportunities for young people to share their understanding and questions about greenhouse gases and climate change. This will inform the activities you will use in future learning to build a secure foundation for climate literacy.

Ensure learners understand what greenhouse gases are and where they come from, providing a platform for building a deeper understanding of the link between human activity, greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. 

This is recommended as session one of the Key Stage Two Greenhouse Gases Unit, identifying prior knowledge.



Green Skills

  • Communication

Curriculum Links


Year 4 states of matter

  • Comparing and grouping materials together according to whether they are solids, liquids or gases.  

Year 5 properties and changes of materials

  • Explain that some changes result in the formation of new materials, and that this kind of change is not usually reversible.

Step by step

Quick Starter Activity

Factory with tall smoking chimney stacks

‘I wonder….’

Use this sentence stem to ask learners to write down three questions they have about greenhouse gases and climate change.

A prompt example, ‘I wonder how climate change will affect me?’  

Learners can record these on a working wall to return to during the theme of learning.  

Main Suggested Activities

Suggestion 1 (Indoor)

Climate Change Science Poster. This factsheet can be used to help learners to understand different relevant topics and identify gaps in their knowledge of climate change. 

Suggestion 2 (Indoor)

ThoughtBox: Changing Climates. Building on knowledge of greenhouse gases by travelling back in time to find out about the industrial revolution and the use of fossil fuels.   

Suggestion 2 (Outdoor/Indoor) 

Learning Through Landscapes: Play Climate Change Dodgeball. This active game can be used to scaffold pupils’ scientific understanding of the greenhouse effect and global warming.

Top Tips

Use a KWHL (What do you know? What do you want to know? How will you find out? and What have you learned?) chart to give learners the opportunity to share their experiences about greenhouse gases and what they want to know.