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Learning About the Weather in Preschool
Preschoolers are great observers. They love exploring their world, and weather is always a favorite. Take this natural curiosity and build early science skills while you explore the weather through preschool weather activities your students will love. Daily observations of the sky and temperature are great ways to get your preschoolers involved in learning about the weather. The weather is always changing, and it's very concrete. Kids can feel the wind blowing their hair. They can see the rain and snow, hear thunder, and see clouds forming in the sky. They can feel the sunshine on their faces and enjoy the deep blue skies.
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Observing is one of the easiest, yet most effective of preschool weather activities. Weather observations can be as simple as gathering at the window to determine what the sky says the weather is for the day. It can also include those incidental teaching moments out on the playground when the wind is blowing toys and hair all around. Think of those times when you see dark clouds moving in and a thunderstorm is on the way. These are great teaching moments. Talk about how those dark clouds are full of moisture. Discuss the sound of thunder and the fact that lightning is electricity. Talk about what makes the clouds move across the sky when the wind is obviously blowing them quickly over the horizon.
Observing the wind is fun! Just blow some bubbles outside on a windy day. Watch them blow across the playground. Talk about the direction of the wind. Take some long strips of ribbon outside and let the preschoolers hold them up in the wind. Watch them blow around.
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Make a Classroom Rain Gauge
Make a classroom rain gauge and check it weekly, graphing the number of centimeters of rain you have collected that week. Preschool-aged children won't understand the method of measurement, but they will understand the concept that 2 is more than 1. So don't worry about explaining centimeters, just use the number to graph rain amounts on your weather chart each week.
You will need:
- an empty 2 liter soda bottle
- a Sharpie marker
Make the rain gauge:
Simply cut off the top third of the 2 liter bottle. Measure by centimeters and mark them off on the side of the bottle using the Sharpie. You need a permanent marker because the gauge will get wet out in the rain. Beside each mark, write the number. Preschoolers will help to read the results by looking at the mark and number. Put some rocks inside of a bucket, and then place the rain gauge in the bucket. This will help keep the rain gauge from being blown over in the wind. Write on the outside of the bucket, "preschool rain gauge" and your name. (so others will know that the gauge is a classroom project) Place the bucket and rain gauge outside in front of your class window if possible. Make sure the gauge is out in the open so that rain will fall into it without running off of trees or being sheltered by anything.
Check the gauge every week. Weekly checks will usually result in a noticeable change in the gauge. Read the gauge together and decide upon the measurement. Go inside and write the number in the appropriate place on your weather chart. Discuss whether it has rained more since last check, and look at the weather from the previous week. Discuss how the number of rainy days compare to the change in the rain gauge.
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Charting and Graphing the Weather
Daily weather charts are great activities. You can choose to make your weather chart in many different ways, but essentially you will create a place to record weather observations and then graph them over a period of days. Many teachers put some sort of weather icon on their daily calendar. This is good because you can look at the weather from the previous week or over the course of the month. Place a picture of the day's weather on each day of the week. You can extend this activity by counting sunny days, windy days, cloudy or rainy days.
Make a simple graph from poster paper to place each daily and weekly result. On the graph, make a place for plotting the rain gauge's measurements. Draw an umbrella and rain drop to represent the rain gauge. Draw 5 vertical squares and number each beside it. When you measure the rain gauge for the week, color the correct number of blocks in blue. For example, if you measured 3 centimeters of rain, color 3 boxes on the graph. This is a very visual and more concrete way for preschoolers to compare the rain amounts. Use this same method to graph the number of sunny, snowy, windy, cloudy and rainy days each week.