This activity will take several days to complete.
Materials List: chart or white board; markers; Internet access; weather data collecting materials such as a rain gauge, thermometer, and wind vane; paper bag; tape; crepe paper; string; newspapers; copies of Water Cycle Song; Measuring Weather BLM; several 5x7 index cards for each student; weather forecasting video
Have students begin a KWL chart, a type of graphic organizer (view literacy strategy descriptions) about weather. Use this chart to record what students know or believe they know about weather that they have personally experienced or learned about through the media or in books. This chart is divided into three sections. In the “K” section of the chart, the teacher records what students know or believe they know about weather. In the “W” section of the chart, the teacher records what the students would like to know or what they wonder about the weather. The “L” section of the chart is completed at the end of the unit to record what the students feel they have learned during the study of the weather. During the course of the unit, refer to the KWL chart to review, clarify, or modify student understanding. If available, view the LPB Cyberchannel video clip entitled, Weather Smart: Forecasting and Weather Instruments (www.lpb.org/cyberchannel) or other grade-appropriate video clip on weather forecasting.
Students will take measurements and record data at school. Briefly discuss each part of the water cycle. Instruct students to work in groups and act as Junior Meteorologists to learn how to measure weather-related phenomena such as wind direction, temperature, and precipitation and give weather reports based on the information gathered. Each group of students will collect daily weather information from thermometers and rain gauges at school, the newspaper, and the Internet (see resources). Students are to record the data on a classroom chart. Using the data collected, create different types of graphs (such as vertical bar, horizontal bar, or pie) to show the results from the data such as daily temperature. Available instruments will determine the amount of data collected.
The following are examples of tasks for this activity:
Students should construct a wind vane as demonstrated in the video or construct a wind streamer. To construct a wind streamer, cut out the bottom of a paper bag and tape crepe paper streamers to the open bottom. Tape a string to the top. Tie the ends of the string together and go outside and hold the wind streamer in the air. Discuss what happens and why it happens. What can students tell about the wind from the wind vane or wind streamer?
Hang a thermometer outside the classroom in a shaded area and record the temperature everyday at the same time for five to seven days using the Measuring Weather BLM provided. As a class, plot the temperature data on a Celsius graph and a Fahrenheit graph. Have students compare the differences in the graphs in order to develop an understanding of the mathematical differences between the two types of systems for measuring temperature readings. Have students analyze the daily temperatures and predict the type of clothing they will need in the coming days.
Use a rain gauge (either student-made or commercial) to collect rain over a period of a month or longer. Be sure the gauge is placed where rainfall is not impeded such as near a tree or roof overhang. Using the data, create a class graph showing the amount of rainfall for the designated time period, which could be several months, thereby allowing comparative data to be accumulated.
Students can chart the weather using a weather calendar such as the one found by accessing Enchanted Learning (http://www.enchantedlearning.com) on the Internet and searching for “weather calendar.”
Discussion questions could include the following:
Review the water cycle. Elicit questions about or explanations of the water cycle from the students and probe for understanding and/or misconceptions. The song below can be used to help students understand and recall the water cycle. Buddy classes may be identified from schools in other parts of the state or world in order for classes to exchange weather information on a periodic basis.
Water Cycle Song
(Tune of Oh, My Darlin)
Evaporation, (push both palms up, palms parallel to floor)
Condensation, (push with arms straight out to side)
Precipitation on my head. (pretend to “rain” on head)
Accumulation, (make arms sweep back and forth in front)
Water Cycle, (arms rotate in circle in front)
And we start all over again. (turn around in place in a circle)
Students must develop a working understanding of weather terms in order to apply them as they gather weather related data. When students create vocabulary cards (view literacy strategy descriptions), they see connections between words, examples of the words, and critical attributes associated with the word. This vocabulary strategy helps students link what they know and are familiar with to new concepts and word meanings. Vocabulary cards can become an easily accessible reference for students as they prepare for tests, quizzes, and other activities with the words.
To develop students’ knowledge of key vocabulary, have them create vocabulary cards for terms related to weather and the water cycle. Model on a chart or white board how to organize the vocabulary card. As a class, determine a definition and model how to place it on the card. Next, invite students to list the characteristics or description of the word and model how to place it on the card. Next, ask for examples of the term and include one or two of the best ones on the sample card. Finally, create an illustration of the term.
Note: It may take more than one day to completely fill out a vocabulary card with young students. This depends on the experiences of the individuals. For example, the students may be ready to determine a definition but need more experiences to list characteristics or examples.
Other suggested vocabulary words: weather data, meteorologist, precipitation, condensation, water cycle