Exploring the Weather: A fun way to learn
Every day when children walk out of the house, they immediately
experience the weather. Is it sunny or cloudy? Are flowers blooming,
or are leaves falling from the trees? For children, weather is a
great learning tool because it leads to exploration and discovery.
The study of weather actually integrates science, math, and
reading/writing. When parents or caregivers take the time to explore
weather with children, they can help them work on many skills at once.
There’s something to learn for children of all ages, and adults, too!
As a parent or caregiver, you may want to consider these questions
- What do children already know about weather?
- What do they want to learn and how can you help them understand more?
- What questions do children have about the weather and how it affects living things?
The answers to these questions will help you guide children in
exploring those aspects of weather that they are curious about, and
those concepts that mean something in their everyday lives. Then,
you may let their interests, questions, and discussion guide their
The weather log
A weather log is a good activity for children beginning around
preschool. A four-year-old may, for example, draw or color a
picture of a sunny day and dictate descriptions for an adult to
write down. A six-year-old may be able to check and record the
temperature, and write a brief description of the day’s weather.
An older child may write a description of daily conditions, and
branch off into temperature, humidity, and air pressure. Keep lots
of books on hand about weather, including picture books, for
children to peruse.
Children can create a rainbow using a prism, a sprinkler, or
even a garden hose. These activities lead to discussion about
colors, and rain itself. You may show children how to measure
the rain using the bottom of a plastic bottle. Once children
start to observe the rain, they will have many questions about
the properties of water, and they can do their own simple
experiments. Let children explore the puddles outside after
a storm, and then check back and witness their evaporation!
Children enjoy "finding" animals, people, and everyday
objects in the clouds. Looking at clouds’ movement and shape is not
only a great exercise of the imagination, but it leads to other
subjects. You can teach children about different types of clouds
(cirrus, stratus, etc.) and use that as a bridge to snow, hail, and
ice. Why is the weather different in various parts of the country?
Children may not be able to comprehend complex scientific concepts,
but they understand better when lessons have meaning in their
A preschooler may be intrigued by the heat of the sun, and how
things melt underneath it. It’s fun for all children to experiment
with ice cubes outside on a warm day.
Air and wind
Children may enjoy blowing bubbles outside. This activity
allows them to practice predicting, measuring, and observing as
they watch the bubbles move with the wind.
Observing the weather is a good activity for a multi-age group.
Older children will grasp more complicated concepts. For very young
children, the "study" of weather may mean merely
experiencing the outdoors and developing an appreciation for nature.
As time goes on, they begin to anticipate the change in seasons and
the subsequent change in temperature. They become curious about the
weather in their own right. So be prepared -- when they’re ready,
they’ll ask questions.
Holt, B.G. 1989. Science with young children (rev. ed.).
Washington, DC: NAEYC. #309/$7.
Huffman, A.B. 1997. Beyond the weather chart: Weathering new
experiences. Young Children 51 (5):34-37.