Children are often scared of thunderstorms, but they love jumping in puddles of water and looking at rainbows after a storm ends. Making observations about the weather and discussing climate are great ways to teach children about science, especially since weather is something children can easily relate to and understand. Whether it's clear and sunny or rainy and windy outside, weather and climate affect children's lives every day.
Weather-related lesson plans are also easy to create, because weather is always changing and can be measured and observed by people of all ages. Providing children with weather information also gives you the opportunity to talk with children about the importance of being on alert when there's a chance of bad weather and knowing what to do if a severe storm or natural disaster occurs. Here are a few ways you can educate the children in your care about weather and climate:
- Set up a classroom weather station. Providing a place for children to track each day's temperature, precipitation, humidity, etc. is an important component of teaching kids about weather. Your classroom weather station should be outside if at all possible to allow children the hands-on experience of collecting and recording weather data. Be sure to include a thermometer, barometer, hygrometer, and other weather-measuring instruments in the station. If your weather station cannot be outside, your options are a little more limited. You could set up a weather tracking station and print off weather data from the day before for kids to record. Another option would be to have kids look up real-time weather data for your community on the computer and record those findings.
- Share observations and fun facts about weather. Make sure you take time to discuss children's data and their observations about the weather. Are they seeing seasonal changes in nature? Do they understand what's causing the temperature to increase or decrease? Do younger children understand the characteristics of each season? Discussing a variety of weather information, such as the fun facts shared by The Weather Channel, can also spark children's interest in weather and science and make learning more fun.
- Track hurricanes and learn about funnel clouds. Depending on the age and ability of the children in your care, you can have children individually track hurricanes on a map or a piece of graph paper or you can track hurricanes as a class on a bulletin board or computer program. There are also science experiments you can do as a class that imitate a tornado's vortex on a much smaller scale. Use these activities as opportunities to teach children about hurricanes and tornadoes and to give them the tools and skills they'll need if a natural disaster occurs.
- Take time to watch or read the local weather forecast. Many news stations record their weather forecasts and post them online for viewers to watch. This presents the perfect opportunity to watch the local weather forecast as a class and talk about the forecast and new weather words the meteorologist uses. You can also choose to read the local weather forecast from a newspaper or weather-related website.
- Keep a weather journal throughout the school year. Weather journals are a great way for children to keep track of their weather observations and any information they learn about weather and climate. Consider taking pictures of different weather-related scenes and having kids add them to their journals. Each child will then have something to look back on and review everything they've learned about weather and climate.
Remember that weather for kids should be fun and educational and that any activities you do should broaden children's understanding of weather and climate and incorporate new weather words for children to learn. Be sure to browse our selection of weather and climate materials to see what types of weather-related items you can add to your classroom.