Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Listen to the Rain and the Children!

There will be rain, lots of rain and then at nine forty-five there will be a twister! You will need to go inside for two minutes. Go down to the basement and do not use your computers and you will be safe down there. Then you can come up and it will be sunny after two minutes.”

This report was given “live” by Nina in the classroom after several children decided to turn our dramatic play center into a weather station/TV/Radio station. We had read several books that talked about the machines, devices and computers that helped meteorologists determine the weather, and then how the information gets to the public. We had some keyboards, and phones. We covered the stove and refrigerators with paper and drew on buttons and gadgets. We made large cardboard monitors and then downloaded various weather maps to fill the screens and line the walls. We added headphones from the listening center and clipboards and writing utensils to write the reports. We also added appropriate wardrobe for the weather reporters.

When they first started reporting the weather panic ensued. Twisters were coming and the reporters were screaming and running off the set. We then discussed the role of the reporters and the media being one of warning the public and helping calm them down and giving them good information that would help warn them and save lives. It is clear that many children hear weather reports at home as they can use the language of a weather report quite well. I wish I could include the videos of some of the reports-they are absolutely precious, “A twister is coming, it will be scary, you will be okay, even though it will be scary, you do not have to run, but you might want to run.”

It is funny, also, how we live in the northeast, a place where very few, if any tornados touch down, and yet, according to our class weather station, they happen every day around here!

The weather investigation has gotten off to a sunny start with very curious children asking so many questions. We have been studying the effects of rain as it has been pouring. We’ve been making it rain inside the classroom as well with various condensation experiments and a very large window box that I managed to hang from the ceiling. The children reach up to fill it and then it actually rains down over the water table. We have measured wind direction with bubbles and are just finishing up making our own weather vanes that will also measure wind direction.

My assistant and I are trying to make lightning in a jar with little success based on an experiment I read about in a book. We want it to work before we try it with the children. This does bring up a good reminder about testing procedures before you try to do them with the children. I didn’t do this with a new clay recipe I was attempting a couple of months ago and it lead to a very frustrating experience for us all.

At the end of a story today about a fictional rainbow, A Rainbow of My Own, a child sees a real rainbow in his room. I paused before reading the last page which explains how the rainbow is formed. Before I read that part to the class, one of my students was able to explain how the light was shining through the glass of the fishbowl and making the rainbow on the wall. Another student suggested that we bring cups of water outside tomorrow when it is sunny and try to make rainbows. So we will. We will also bring in prisms and read more books and try more things, but isn’t it amazing when the explanation, and the further study ideas come from the children, and the teacher’s job becomes getting the cups!


  1. May I please go back to Nursery School? Love - Mom

  2. Fascination with weather never ends. I recently visited the Albany office of the NWS with a bunch of gray haired kids. The meteorologists prepared the latest forecasts as we watched. -- Dad