Teaching Kids About Weather
The most I’ve taught my kids about weather so far is that the temperature changes depending on the seasons and that they should stay away from lightning. They’re old enough now though that perhaps it’s time to start teaching them more comprehensively about the weather: Layers of atmosphere, how clouds and hurricanes and tornadoes form, barometric pressure, weather fronts, El Niño and La Niña … . Meteorology is pretty complicated when you get down to it; it’s hard to know where to start. Thankfully, we all have an excellent free resource in NOAA. While you and I might be interested in more complicated weather topics, kids need to start somewhere basic.
NOAA has a dedicated kid section devoted to teaching kids basic weather safety and facts. They even have a mascot, Owlie, the star in several fact filled coloring books. Unfortunately for NOAA, it’s a government run operation. That means their website sucks. It’s difficult to navigate and a bunch of the external resource links are broken. Lucky for you I’m here to find the one good link. And it might actually work!
(The link may take a long time to load)
But Before you do that:
Do your kids know how to estimate the temperature? Do they know the seasons and what characterizes them? If they don’t then that’s a good place to start. Weather education is oftentimes introduced in Math classes, but I don’t know why as it isn’t math. Both Saxon Math and Singapore Math (two homeschooling math programs) incorporate temperature into their first grade math curriculum. I remember learning to tell the temperature in public school math class as well. Its’ easy!
Estimating the Temperature (Must have an Outdoor Thermometer):
1. Get or make a bar graph labeled with the month you’ll be recording. Write the days going horizontally, 1-30 or whatever, and the temperature vertically.
2. Every day (at the same time) make your kid go outside and guess the temperature. Mark a point on the graph for his guess and then tell him the real temperature and mark that with a different colored dot.
3. After a few days, you can start connecting the dots with different colored pens. With luck the two lines will, over time, get closer together until you know your kid can accurately estimate the temperature. It’s a fun daily activity.
Teaching about the weather shouldn’t be relegated to a subsection of a math class for a day or two before getting ignored. I think it should be a dedicated class by itself. Considering that every natural occurrence somehow colludes to influence the weather, it’s not as easy as stepping outside and sticking a finger in the air. But, obviously kids need to start somewhere. The temperature chart and NOAA’s Owlie are perfect ways to introduce a little science and fun into your kid’s curriculum.