To help students understand how the weather changes some from day to day.
This lesson is the first in a two-part series on the weather. The study of the weather in these early years is important because it can help students understand that some events in nature have a repeating pattern. It also is important for students to study the earth repeatedly because they take years to acquire the knowledge that they need to complete the picture. The full picture requires the introduction of such concepts as temperature, the water cycle, etc. (Benchmarks for Science Literacy, p. 66.)
Weather 1: What’s the Weather? focuses on the phrase in the benchmark: “the weather changes some from day to day.” As stated in the benchmark, some events in nature have a repeating pattern. So, to do this lesson, students already should be familiar with patterns. This lesson requires students to relate what they learn about weather to what they already know about patterns. Students first look at simple patterns in non-weather related phenomena. Then they identify and record several weather parameters to analyze for patterns. Part of the analysis is the construction of simple bar graphs. It is important that students be able to make a graph.
In this lesson, students keep daily records of temperature, precipitation, and wind. They plot their data and look for patterns of ups and downs without getting deeply into the nature of climate.
In Weather 2: What’s the Season?, students focus on the second portion of the benchmark: “things such as temperature and rain (or snow) tend to be high, low, or medium in the same months every year.” Students identify the seasonal patterns in temperature and precipitation.
This lesson is intended to be done over a week or so with students observing/recording weather data each day. The following sheets for student use are located on the Utah Education Network site:
You may want to read Weather on the National Science Education Standards site for an example of how you could use a weather station in your school.
First, get students to just talk about weather generally. Ask questions such as:
- What’s the weather like today?
- What was it like yesterday?
- How can you find out what the weather will be like ahead of time?
- Do you know what it will be like tomorrow?
- Does the weather ever affect what you can do (e.g., can’t play outside if raining)?
- Can you find clues around the classroom that indicate what the weather is like? (Examples could include umbrellas, raincoats, shorts, t-shirts, snow boots, etc.)
- Would you have found the same types of items in the room yesterday? (If yesterday’s weather was much like today’s, then they will answer yes. If yesterday’s weather was very different, then they will answer no.)
- If not, why not? (The weather changed.)
Now, have students use their Weather Patterns student esheet to visit Hot Weather on the Different Clothes for Different Weather site. Then talk to them about the types of clothing shown there. Ask them:
- What types of clothes do you see pictured for when the weather is hot? (Answers should include a hat, t-shirt, shorts, sandals, sunglasses, and swimsuit.)
- Why would these be good types of clothes to wear when the weather is hot? (These are good clothes to wear when the weather is hot because they help to keep you cool and protect you from the sun.)
- Can you think of any other types of clothing that could be added to the ones you see? (Accept all logical answers.)
Then have students go to Rainy Weather and talk to them about the clothing shown there. Ask them the same types of questions as listed above. Finally, have students go to Cold Weather and talk to them about the clothing shown there.
After looking at and discussing all of the pictures, consider reading a weather-related book to your students like:
- Bear’s Busy Year: A Book About Seasons, by Marcia Leonard
- Magic Monsters Learn About Weather, by Sylvia Tester
- What’s a Bear to Wear?, by Laura Rossiter
The goal of this section is for students to observe and record weather for a week and then analyze it. What’s the Weather?, an activity on the Utah Education Network, offers instructions and student worksheets for the data collection and graphing.
Provide students with copies of the Weather Watch Symbols, My Weather Graph, and My Weather Chart. Tell students that they will observe and record the weather for a one-week period. At the end of each school day, students should use the symbols available on the Weather Watch Symbols page to indicate what the weather was like for that day by cutting out the symbols and pasting them onto the chart. At the end of each day, ask students questions like:
- What did you observe about the weather today?
- Was it cold/hot outside?
- Was the sun shining?
- Were there clouds in the sky?
At the end of a week, students should use the information they recorded on their chart to fill in the My Weather Graph. By filling in the graph, students will create a bar chart that will show the weather pattern for the week.
Ask students the guiding questions included in Step 6 in the online activity and those suggested here:
- What kind of weather did you see the most? The least?
- What other kinds of weather could you have seen?
- How would you represent those on a graph?
- How many days did it rain (or snow, etc.)?
- How many days had the same kind of weather?
- How many days had more than one kind of weather?
After students have generally observed, graphed, and analyzed weather, ask them how they could make even better observations and how they think weather people on TV make observations. This conversation should eventually lead to the use of tools (e.g., rain gauges, weather vanes). Perhaps students used tools in the above observations too; if so, you could talk about those here.
If you feel that your students would benefit from actually doing activities that involve the use of weather tools, then you can have them do some of the activities found on the Make Your Own Weather Station site. Students should follow the directions to make the weatherproof box, rain gauge, and weather vane. You may want to print the instructions to give to the groups as well. After constructing the boxes, you will need to place them outside in an appropriate location.
One way to assess student understanding is to see how well they can apply what they’ve learned and think beyond the weather of this week. Ask questions such as:
- What would your graph have looked like last week?
- What do you think your graph would look like in a different month? In a different season?
- Looking at your weather chart, was the weather the same from day to day?
Ask students to name other earth-related phenomena they could observe/record on a daily basis. For example, the time the sun rises and sets; the phases of the moon, etc.
You can extend the ideas in this lesson by taking your students through the Science NetLinks lesson series on the sky, which encourages students to observe the daytime and nighttime sky regularly to identify sequences of changes and to look for patterns in these changes. The first lesson in the series is: Sky 1: Objects in the Sky.
How’s the Weather Today? asks students to think about the weather in their area and introduces them to weather and temperature trends in different latitudes of the United States. They’ll look at today’s weather map and record the high temperatures for a few cities. They’ll conclude by drawing pictures of themselves outdoors in their hometown and in another place that has different weather.
For a mathematics/graphing extension, see What’s the Weather? on the Illuminations website. The activities in this lesson focus on studying a graph that reports the number of students who wore sweaters to school each day for one week. The information is shown in a block graph. The students are asked to discuss and describe the information and then predict what happened on the basis of the given information. They are encouraged to write an explanation to defend their predictions.
Web Weather for Kids has more specific information about weather phenomena like clouds, hurricanes, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and winter storms. It includes stories, games, and activities for students. They can even try their hand at forecasting the weather.