When she wakes up in the morning L likes to check the weather app on my phone to see what’s forecast for the day. I think she likes the animated visual of the rain or the shining sun but she’s also interested in the temperature. We haven’t had such a cold winter this year but there have been a few days when the temperature has dipped below zero and L is fascinated that something can be less than nothing.
We decided we’d investigate further and try to make our own weather station to check if the weather forecasters on the phone get it right. There are few different ways the children can be involved in setting this up and you can decide whether you want to looking at the sky, the wind, the temperature or the rain. A weather station project also gives you lots of scope to include many different aspects of learning: observation, recording data, graphing, guessing and estimating, taking notes and translating results in to real-life consequences.
Our project is part of the Weather Blog Hop which is linking many kid blogs around the world to bring you all sorts of weather ideas you can use with your children – science, art, games, activities, you name it, we’ve got it! Have a browse through the links at the end of this post for lots of ideas. If you have a weather idea you would like to share please feel free to add it to the linky too.
How to make a weather station
The purpose of our rain gauge was to set up an experiment to compare results and to be able to graph them – and the results were a big surprise for the children. When we set the rain gauge up I let the children lead and find a bottle they thought would be a good size. They were sure that on a very rainy day the bottle would be filled to overflowing! It was surprising to them to discover that a day that soaks the garden (and all the washing on the line!) actually only gave them half a centimetre of rain in their bottle.
How to make a rain gauge
1. Find a bottle with straight sides and cut off the top
2. Use a ruler and a permanent marker to mark off a scale
3. Superglue the cut-off top of the bottle upside down on the base of the bottle. This allows you to push the rain gauge down into some soil in your garden so the bottle doesn’t topple over or blow away
4. Check your rain gauge every morning and see how much rain has filled your bottle. Record your results on a bar chart. Empty all the rain out of the bottle and replace it so you can measure how much falls the next day
What children can learn: how to set up a simple experiment, how to measure data, how to record data, that things don’t always turn out as expected
Weather station observation chart
1. We printed off a What colour is the sky?‘ chart
2. Each morning we looked at the sky to see what the weather was like that day. We tried to find exactly the right pen, pencil or crayon to colour in that day’s box on the chart so it looked just like the sky outside. (Sadly,we needed lots of grey.) We added in cotton wool clouds if there were any and looked up the names of different cloud formations. This made a patchwork picture of the weather for us.
What children can learn: observation skills, that the weather changes day by day, how ‘blue’ can be all sorts of shades, that clouds can be all different shapes and sizes and have special scientific names, that observing nature can translate into art.
What Should I Wear? chart
What do changes in the weather actually mean to young children? To translate our observations into something relevant to their experiences we set up a ‘What should I wear?’ chart.
1. Create a tall chart showing different types of clothing your child might wear – you can draw them or take photos of your children’s actual clothes.
2. Sequence your clothing pictures from hot to cold. It could look something like this: sunhat, t-shirt, long sleeved top, extra vest, rain coat, winter coat, woolly hat, scarf and gloves, snow boots.
3. Cut out a big arrow and stick it to a clothes peg. Once you have completed your Weather Station Observation Chart for the day ask you child to think about what the weather means for what they need to wear that day. Peg your arrow marker to the right stage of your ‘What Should I wear’ chart, then go and get dressed and head out to play in the fresh air!
More creative ways to use nature to inspire learning
Fill your year with hands-on, creative learning inspired by nature. Click through to see our Garden Classroom resource and get your free Garden Journal.
Join the Weather Blog Hop
The Weather Blog Hop is co-hosted by all these blogs: sharing your great ideas far and wide! Please add you own link and join the fun.