Summer weather events and patterns

A cloudy sky.If you haven’t been tracking weather events with the children in your summer and year-round programs, they are missing an opportunity to make observations and learn about collecting data. Some regions have more of the same every day, some experience severe weather. Variations in temperature, cloud cover, wind and precipitation can be observed between morning arrival and afternoon outdoor play or dismissal.

What kind of media do your children use to document their observations? Fingerpainting with shaving cream to sculpt clouds? Circling the symbol that represents the current weather? Taking photos to view and discuss Children's small drawings of water in their world.later? Measuring and charting temperature or rainfall? How can children document hail? After the lightning and thunder are completely over, run outside and gather a few of any hailstones that haven’t melted and quickly measure them? 

Large view of a drop of waterAnd where does all that water go? What do we use water for? Four-year-olds in one preschool talked about how water was present in their lives and drew small pictures and wrote a few words about this.

Some kindergarten classes keep track of air temperature within ten degree (*F) blocks over a year. Especially in summer, the change in air temperature can be measured over the hours in the school day, or Child's drawing of ice in the sun, melting, and ice in the shade, not melting.simply noted as “cool,” “warm,” or “hot.” This prepares children to consider how sunlight warms the Earth’s surface, a Disciplinary Core Idea in the Next Generation Science Standards and part of Kindergarten Performance Expectation, K-PS3-1, Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface. One class compared the speed of ice cube melting, in the shade or in the sun.

When addressing severe weather events or patterns, we try to inform children without scaring them. Even older children can be scared by difficulties such as drought. California nanny and parent, Stef Tousignant, wrote about “How to Talk to Your Kids About the California Drought.

Jaqueline Stansbury wrote about her memories of the two-year drought in 1976-1977. She says, “What I remember from my childhood in the 70s is that we were all in it together”, and offers tips for using less water.

The Reading Chair column in the March 2009 issue of Young Children reviewed Lila and the Secret of Rain by David Conway, illustrated by Jude Daly (Frances Lincoln 2007), the story of a girl in Kenya. I wonder if children who are experiencing an extended drought might become anxious when hearing Lila’s mother’s statement: “Without rain there can be no life.” Will they think it is their responsibility to end the drought as Lila did? Will they feel empowered by the actions they can take, such as turning off the tap while brushing their teeth or helping to plant drought tolerant plants in a garden?

My area has experienced rain almost every day for a month so I don’t have answers to these questions. Please share your practices in teaching about drought and in water-conserving methods.

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