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STC–Kindergarten™: Exploring My Weather

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Grade K. Students use their senses and the tools of meteorologists to explore temperature, precipitation, wind, and cloud cover. Observations develop a weather vocabulary and lead to new questions: how water changes between its forms and how weather affects humans and other animals. Students choose clothing and design roofs and hats to protect against weather. They conclude by discussing seasonal changes and the importance of weather forecasting.

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Grade K. Weather is all around us, ever changing, and stirring questions in students’ minds. Where does rain come from? Why do puddles disappear? What makes clouds? Exploring My Weather is an 8-lesson unit in which students investigate temperature, precipitation, wind, and clouds to answer these and other questions.

The STC—Kindergarten™: Exploring My Weather unit was designed to draw upon and expand students’ natural curiosity and enthusiasm for finding out about weather. While doing so, the unit provides opportunities for students to engage in measurement, data collection, and making predictions. Students also begin to understand the value of weather forecasting and planning for weather events, including severe weather.

Concepts:

  • Weather changes from day to day and week to week.
  • Weather features include temperature, precipitation, wind, and cloud cover.
  • Weather features can be measured qualitatively by using the senses and quantitatively by using instruments, such as thermometers and rain and wind gauges.
  • Because water changes form depending on the temperature, precipitation has different forms.
  • Weather affects the clothing humans wear and the type of shelter we need.
  • Animals’ skin, fur, feathers, and behaviors can change, so that animals may protect themselves from weather.
  • Weather patterns are related to the seasons.
  • Meteorologists are scientists who study, observe, and record information about the weather and who use this information to forecast the weather.
  • Predictions about weather conditions allow us to make plans to cope with severe weather events.

Skills:

  • Observing weather by using the senses
  • Observing weather clues and making predictions about weather conditions
  • Using a simple thermometer, rain gauge, and wind gauge to measure temperature, precipitation, and wind strength and direction
  • Making daily weather observations
  • Recognizing different types of precipitation and connecting them to air temperature
  • Measuring the height of a column of water in a simple rain gauge to measure precipitation
  • Observing, measuring, and recording cloud changes and cloud cover
  • Recognizing that water exists as a liquid, a solid, and a gas
  • Recognizing that water changes from one form to another depending on the temperature
  • Testing different materials to design a roof to protect a dog from the weather or keep a home cool
  • Developing an understanding of weather patterns from daily recorded observations
  • Understanding the importance of weather forecasting in daily life and in planning to cope with severe weather events

Attitudes:

  • Increasing awareness of weather
  • Appreciating how weather affects daily life
  • Recognizing that measurements collected data are useful in predicting weather
  • Understanding that data are useful in predicting weather
  • Recognizing that weather forecasting is a useful tool to help keep us safe

Lesson-by-lesson summary:
Lesson 1, a pre-unit assessment, acknowledges students’ interest in weather with a brainstorming activity that invites them to discuss what they already know, as well as what they would like to know, about weather. Students observe weather conditions featured in the Weather Event Photo Cards (from the materials kit) and relate them to their own experiences. They also observe weather on their way to school. They compare local weather conditions with what they see in a video on the Smithsonian Exploring My Weather DVD. Students begin to record their daily observations using weather symbols furnished in one of the lesson’s blackline masters.

In Lesson 2, students use their sense of touch to learn about temperature. They observe objects inside the classroom and predict their temperature, giving reasons for their predictions. They then use their hands to feel whether the objects are hot, warm, cool, or cold and record their findings. The same process is followed with objects outdoors. Students count the number of objects they have recorded in each temperature category. Students use a qualitative thermometer to measure the relative temperatures of objects in the classroom. Finally, they begin daily recordings of temperature using an outdoor thermometer.

Lesson 3 begins with a story of children experiencing different types of precipitation. This prompts a class discussion about rain, snow, sleet, and hail. Students make more observations about precipitation after seeing a video. They begin thinking about types of precipitation as clues to other weather conditions. Students build and use rain gauges, measuring water levels in the rain gauges with interlocking cubes. They begin recording daily rainfall on the classroom calendar. Finally, based on their learning so far, students engage in a class discussion focusing on weather forecasting and severe weather.

Wind is the focus of Lesson 4. Students observe wind and the signs of wind outdoors and in a video. They classify their observations as “no wind,” “some wind,” or “strong wind.” Later, they make a simple wind gauge, which lets them determine the relative strength and direction of the wind. Using a wind gauge outside and recording wind data on the daily classroom calendar allows them to begin to understand trends in wind conditions.

Lesson 5 introduces students to clouds and how cloud changes are connected to weather. Students observe clouds—how many there are, their shapes, sizes, colors, and movement across the sky—outdoors, on a video, and in photos. From these observations, students begin to understand that clouds change and are introduced to the concept of cloud cover. To measure cloud cover, they categorize their cloud observations as “no clouds,” “some clouds,” or “lots of clouds,” and record their findings in their science notebooks. They begin recording daily cloud cover on the classroom calendar.

Exploring the different forms of water and how water changes from one form to another takes place in Lesson 6. Students first consider water in their own lives and then are shown examples of water in a video. This will point out to students the many forms that water can take, including snow and ice, as well as revealing that clouds are made out of water. Through observations and investigations, students come to understand that water changes form—such as solid, liquid, and gas—and that temperature is responsible for the changes. In this lesson, they also learn some of the properties of solids, liquids, and gases.

The effect of weather on humans and other animals is the focus in Lesson 7. Students discuss how weather affects what they wear. They reflect on how weather affects the thickness of animals’ fur and feathers. They also consider other adaptations animals use to protect themselves from the cold. Students explore a dog’s need for shelter, and they test different materials and design a doghouse roof, which will give a dog protection from weather. Students build on these concepts to explore how they can protect themselves from both rain and sun. Finally, students design and create hats that will protect them from some weather conditions.

In the post-unit assessment in Lesson 8, students study and analyze the weather data they have collected throughout the unit. Students are first asked to make general assessments of weather patterns over the time period. Then their attention is directed to summarizing the data into a class chart. Using this chart, they can begin to see patterns and make quantitative observations of the weather over time. This process is repeated for temperature data. Students consider seasonal differences in weather conditions. Students are asked to connect the patterns they have found to the patterns used in weather forecasting. They learn about the importance of weather forecasts in our daily lives and in preparing for severe weather conditions.

 
 
 
 
 
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