The weather’s been pretty strange lately. Snow in May? Heat waves in February? A drought in California? Frozen Great Lakes? Wherever you live, this year has probably been one of the most confusing weather years on record. Why not turn that confusion into a teachable moment for young ones? While they’re helping you dig out the boots you thought you were done with for the year, help them understand why weather can be so wacky.
In the last decade, something even weirder than the polar vortex has happened to our conversations about weather: it’s now a political issue. Whatever side of the debate you land on when it comes to global warming, you must admit that there’s a huge rise in humans taking responsibility for the weather. This makes it even more important to help kids understand cause and effect when it comes to weather.
So how do you start exposing your kids to meteorology?
Toys and Manipulatives
Kids are never too young to learn about the weather, and with the help of a felt weather board or book to keep track of the weather each day, they can learn patterns and, more importantly, the important skill of prediction. A book like this one has all the weather (with the name of each one) to choose daily, making it a fun thing to use while in the car headed for preschool.
If your kid is more into something a little more woodsy, check out these cute little weather gnomes. Besides being a great way to show the weather each day, I could see them playing out little stories where each one has a weather personality (ah, giving us the cold shoulder, snowy gnome?)
It wouldn’t be tough to make your own felt weather board, personalized with whatever you want your learning objective to be. You could even add some cutout people and appropriate weather clothes to put on them each day.
Once kids can read, grabbing a few books on predicting weather (and how weather works) is a must. The Kids’ Book of Weather Forecasting is a great place to start with a ton of experiments and explanations of the science behind them.
Hands On Experiments
Grabbing a weather station and recording data each day will help teach kids how science is done, and depending on record keeping, will teach them how to make predictions based on their own data. This little weather kit comes with gauges and measuring tools for keeping track of all things weather with the option of planting a plant inside.
Once kids have shown a serious interest in meteorology, it’s probably time to get a proper weather dial. This one monitors rainfall, temperature and wind direction and wind speed.