Weather can be a fascinating subject to explore with young kids. It is something that is a constant presence in our lives, yet in can change from one hour to the next. It can be serene and beautiful, warm and cozy, cold and bitter, and even a bit scary. Here are a few simple, yet fun, ways that you can teach preschoolers about weather.
Chart the Weather
Each day, for a month, chart the weather. Take your preschooler outside (or to the window) and ask “What’s the weather like today?” Encourage them to use as many descriptive terms as they can. In the beginning, you could even suggest words: sunny, windy, cloudy, rainy, stormy, snowy, etc. You could even print out little pictures that represent the various types of weather so that they have a visual representation to choose from. This not only helps them to become more observant about the weather, it can also help them to further develop their vocabulary. For example, if they say that it is cold outside, you could introduce them to synonyms like chilly and freezing. If they say it is windy, you could teach them words like blustery and breezy. At the end of the month, you can review how much the weather has changed just over the course of a few weeks. This could even become something that you do throughout the year since it only takes a few minutes of your day.
The Four Seasons
Another great way to learn about how weather changes over time is to talk about the four seasons. Hand each child 4 sheets of paper and a variety of materials (crayons, markers, magazines, kid-safe scissors, glue, etc.). Label each page with one of the four seasons. Then, for each one, ask them (or tell them) about the various aspects of that season. What is the weather like? What kind of activities can you do? How does the yard look? What kind of clothes do you wear? Help each child to decorate each page accordingly. You could even get creative with the page for the current season. For example, it is currently Fall, you could go outside to collect a colorful leaf or even a fallen nut from a tree. If it is Spring, you could collect a freshly bloomed flower. You could also find pictures online that represent each season and help them match the pictures to the appropriate seasons. Get creative!
Track a Thunderstorm
Has the weather channel predicted a thunderstorm in your area? You and your kids can actually track the thunderstorm as it makes its way towards you. All you need is a stopwatch and your ears. More than likely, there will be lightning and thunder. Tell your kids that light travels faster than sound. So even though lightning and thunder actually happen at the same time, we see the lightning first. After you have explained that, wait for a flash of lightning. Once you see it, either use your stopwatch or count the number of seconds vocally until you hear thunder. For every 5 seconds that you count, the storm is a mile away. For example, if you count five seconds between the lightning and thunder, the storm is one mile away. If you count ten seconds between the two, then the storm is two miles away. Your kids might enjoy seeing how accurate this method is. (Continue Reading Below)
The Water Cycle
The Magic School Bus Season 2 has an episode that covers the water cycle: The Magic School Bus: Wet All Over aff You can replicate the process with the following experiment. Grab a small cup and fill 1/3 of it with water. Place the cup in the middle of a big plastic bowl, then cover the bowl with saran wrap. Feel free to use string or yarn to keep the saran wrap in place. Now place the covered bowl in sunlight and watch as the sun causes the water to evaporate, condense onto the saran wrap, and then drip into the bowl. This is a good representation of the real water cycle.
For a visual, A Teaching Mommy has a free printable of the water cycle.
Make a Rainbow
Most kids LOVE seeing rainbows in the sky. There’s something about them that seems downright magical. Delight your kids one sunny day by telling them you are going to make a rainbow. All you need is sunlight and a water hose connected to a working spout. Turn the water on. Once the water is flowing out of the hose, put your thumb over part of the nozzle until it sprays out. Hold the hose into the air with the water stull spraying and turn until the sunlight hits the water and creates a rainbow. Ask your kids to see how many colors they can identify. This could be a great way to help reinforce what they have learned about colors.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways that you can explore weather on a regular basis. What type of fun weather activities have you done with your kids?