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Thermometer Math: Temperature Conversions

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Do you know why we use the Fahrenheit scale in the United States and not the Celsius one? Want to do some Thermometer Math to teach and compare the two scales with your kids?   May is Fahrenheit’s birthday month, so it is time for a famous birthday from history post!

My kids and I were discussing thermometers and the differing temperatures recently and I thought it would be great to study it out a bit further. We are learning the calculations for converting fahrenheit to celsius and celsius to fahrenheit.

I made a printable set to go along with this for us and for my readers.  This set includes thermometers in the celsius and fahrenheit scales from 0 to 100 °.  It also includes a set of blank thermometers that can be used for labeling and using with both scales. Then there is a conversion formula sheet and a worksheet to write the conversion answers on.

temperature conversions- thermometer math

It is a very versatile set that can be used in a lot of different ways and for different ages.  I will map out a few ways we found it useful.

Thermometer Math Lesson Ideas

What we did was to mix up the thermometers and choose one. Then the kids had to do some thermometer math and convert it to the other scale. For instance, if they chose the thermometer that said 50° Celsius they would then covert it to Fahrenheit by multiplying it by 9, dividing by 5 and adding 32. This would equal 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is a little bit more complex math, so this is great for older kids- upper elementary and middle school aged. My 12 and 9-year old worked on this activity and enjoyed it!

thermometers for kids

Another way to use these is to use the blank sets and have the kids fill in the temperatures on them- you can choose one scale or have them do both.

reading a thermometer with kids

For the youngest kids, you can use them to just teach them how to read a thermometer.

And one last fun thing to do is to read a real thermometer and find the matching temperatures, or have them color in the blank one to match the reading on their own thermometer. You could laminate it and re-use it daily with a dry erase marker.

Want to expand on this?  Try out a fun thermometer experiment and make your own! Lemon Lime Adventures has a great one!


Now a bit about the history of the Fahrenheit scale! It was developed by Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in 1724. On the Fahrenheit scale the melting point of ice is 32° and the boiling point is 212°.  On this scale,  0 °F was the temperature of a solution of brine made from equal parts of ice and salt would freeze. This scale was used in all English speaking countries up until the 1960’s and 70’s when all but the United States switched to the Celsius scale.  Why did is the United States the only one who did not change?  I will chalk it up to our stubbornness! 😉

Are You Ready to Download This Fun Thermometer Math Set?

This is available in my my shop!

$5.50Add to cart


This is part of the iHomeschool Network’s Famous Birthday Series. See more Famous May Birthday Posts!


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