How do you know when summer has arrived? Without using a calendar, can you find any clues? Be a detective and have fun problem-solving this challenge!

It is more than just the weather out of the window that tells us when summer is here. One cold, rainy day on its own does not make it autumn – although you could say the day’s weather was autumn-like, or ‘autumnal’. However, you can learn more about what season it is by remembering that yesterday was sunny…and by researching the weather forecast to discover high temperatures are expected tomorrow. So, in this case you are looking at a period of time, not just one particular afternoon. You are putting your question into its bigger picture or ‘context’. Well done!

Let’s think; how else would you code-crack which time of year it actually is? Do you have any questions? Who can help you? Are there extra details you need to research? (These kinds of questions are super-useful with any problem you are trying to solve.)

Start by investigating clues you have already. Imagine you are a detective or scientist gathering facts -but that you don’t have a calendar to look at! Choose your words carefully and create a list of thoughts about “I believe it is summer because…”.

The first rule could say something like:

“I believe it is summer because:

  • Over the last week it has mainly been sunny, very warm and there has been no snow or freezing wind.”

As a scientist, fact-find about the actual temperature. For a whole year, keep a diary of the daily temperatures where you live so that you can see what range is normal in each of the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn (called ‘fall’ in America) and winter. To make a professional thermometer box, look here:

You could do a similar experiment with a simple wind vane or a tube to collect and measure rainwater over different times of year. (These websites will help you make them;  or What results do you expect? What ‘rules’ could you write?

One seasonal detective had a different way of looking at things and told us; “I know it is summer when there are things on sale at the shops like sun cream, sunglasses or those smelly citronella candles that put off mosquitoes if you are eating outdoors”. What would You expect to see, hear, touch, taste or smell?

And…mosquitoes! There’s another clue for your notebook; which insects, birds or other animals do you see more of in summer time? From a tiny bee to a baby bird or growing lamb, is there a pattern of evidence that might help you?

What about trees and flowers? They don’t have printed calendars to look at, yet they give us such clear signs of which time of year it is. Have a think – how do particular plants look in the different seasons? What time of year do poppies, sunflowers and daisies seem to lift their faces to the sun and turn to watch it from sunrise to sunset?

Here are a couple of interesting websites you might want to visit as you build up your set of rules to help you play detective and decide whether or not summer is here!

Happy clue hunting and problem solving!

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