1st & 2nd – Weather Reports

March 19, 2012

We have been studying weather. This is a topic that all the children have had experience with. We began by making two lists: one of what we already know, and another of what we want to know. We have been keeping a daily record (on our calendar) of weather conditions. It reminds us that we‘ve had lots of overcast days recently.

A lot of what creates weather is invisible, such as air and water vapor. So we try to give the children experiences that make those aspects of our natural systems, and the scientific principles involved, more real to them. For example:

1. Air takes up space and can be strong. The children used baggies with straws attached to lift objects in the classroom. They even managed to lift our couch with nothing more than the air that came out of their lungs!

2. The wind can move things and can be very variable. We made pinwheels and spent time outside watching how they moved. The kids found different locations, such as the top of a mound of mulch, where the pinwheels spun faster. They also pointed them in different directions to find where the wind was coming from.

3. Warm air rises. We had them watch the behavior of a plume of incense. Each child made a spiral-shaped snake out of card stock, and then held it over a candle flame to watch what it did: it turned!

4. Water evaporates into the air when warmed, and falls back to earth as rain when cooled. We held ice-filled pans over boiling water and watched as drops formed on the underside of the pans. We‘ve placed a cup of water with its level marked on the windowsill. We will be watching the level change, to demonstrate that water evaporates even when it‘s not boiling.

We‘ve brought a lot of books from the library for the kids to look at. Each child is drawing and writing in a personal ―weather book‖ about their experiences in our unit. Katie will be having the kids help set up an outdoor weather station. She‘s the perfect person to help teach this unit. She has a deep love of the natural world and of being outdoors—she and some friends recently spent a very cold night in a shelter built from available natural materials, without sleeping bags!

We will be looking at extreme weather events at some point—a topic of fascination to the children (and us adults as well). And we will be going to Wonderlab, which has a current theme of air.

Ask your child about the weather and what they‘ve been learning.

-Claudio

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