Weather

EARTH STUDIES – LEVEL 1A

WEATHER

Key Resources
The Earth: The Geography of the World (ISBN: 0753454254) by Barbara Taylor
or Weather and Climate: Geography Facts and Experiments by Barbara Taylor (one of four separate books included in The Earth)

For Parents:
Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-8 and Older Beginning Science Learners, 2nd Ed. Vol. I, Grades K-2
 by Bernard J. Nebel, Ph.D.

Optional Extra
Simple weather station to measure temperature, rainfall and wind speed if you want to keep detailed records over an extended period.

Useful Links
US National Weather Service
UK Meteorological Office (includes a useful Educational Resources section)

Throughout the Year

  1. Carry out regular monitoring and recording of the weather over the course of the year.
  2. Collect newspaper and magazine cuttings, weather related pictures and anything else suitable for a weather scrapbook.

Weather Watch

Lesson 1:

  1. From now your child is going to start watching the weather daily and recording it on a monthly weather summary chart. Draw up a chart for the first month and decide what symbols you will use to record the weather. (Younger siblings might like to help with keeping this record). See sample weather chart.
  2. Set up a weather folder with the following sections: Weather Records; Weather Notes; Weather Scrapbook (for magazine and newspaper cuttings concerning weather).

Later in the course you will need to keep more detailed weather records. When you do this, choose a regular time of day to take measurements. You can use our detailed weather chart or design your own. (This may be a good time to teach your child to use the computer to make a simple spreadsheet or table.)

Lesson 2: Weather Lore

  1. Make a list of any weather sayings you and your child know. From now on you will be able to monitor them for accuracy using your weather chart.
  2. Read Matthew 16: v.2-3 and find a well known piece of weather lore.
  3. Look at the list of British weather lore – many of these are linked to particular saints days. (British students will need to print out this list and keep it in their folder). Copy any relevant weather lore for each month onto your weather summary chart. (The Earth, p.70; W&C, p.30)

Climate and Seasons

Lesson 3: Explain the difference between weather and climate. Demonstrate the effect of the curved surface of the Earth on climate (The Earth, p.50; W&C, p.6)

Lesson 4: Look at the climate map on p.51 and talk about the different climates. Discuss your local climate and any others you or your child has experienced. Your child could make a climate page for his weather folder (narrate, draw or illustrate with pictures from magazines or the internet). (The Earth, p.51; W&C, p.7)

Lesson 5: Explain how the seasons work and make a model to demonstrate. (The Earth, p.52-3; W&C, p.8-9)

The Sun

Lesson 6: Explain how hot air rises and cool air sinks. Demonstrate by blowing bubbles over a radiator or other heat source. (The Earth, p.54; W&C, p.10)

Lesson 7: Show how shadows change during the day. Have your child stand with his back to the sun in the morning and draw round his shadow with chalk. Repeat this at lunchtime, in the afternoon and in the evening. Your child can copy the shadow patterns for his weather folder

Lesson 8: Make a sundial. (The Earth, p.55; W&C, p.11)

Lesson 9: Explain solar power (the sun’s heat can be used to provide electrical or heat energy). If possible show your child a picture of a house with solar panels. Look at a solar powered calculator (or any other item you have at home). If it is a warm day stand a small bottle of cold water in the sun. How warm does the water get?

Temperature

Lesson 10: Explain how we measure temperature. Make your own thermometer. (The Earth, p.56-7; W&C, p.12-13)

Record Keeping
Start keeping a record of daily temperatures. Place an outdoor thermometer in a shady place (north facing is best). Show your child how to read the scale on the thermometer. Check the temperature at the same time each day. Keep a record for at least two weeks to give your child plenty of practice reading the thermometer. If you would like to keep a long-term detailed weather record, start recording temperature on our weather chart: you can then start recording other aspects of the weather as they are studied — this could become a family project. Alternatively, simply make a temperature page for the weather folder.

Air Pressure

Lesson 11: Explain air pressure. Demonstrate the effect of air pressure using a glass of water and a piece of card. (The Earth, p.58-9; W&C, p.14-5)

Lesson 12: Make a barometer. Monitor it regularly for a couple of weeks. Can you see a relationship between changes in the barometer readings and changes in the weather? (The Earth, p.60; W&C, p.16)

Lesson 13: Explain isobars and how air pressure affects weather. Look at weather maps showing areas of high and low pressure. (The Earth, p.59, 62; W&C, p15, 20)

Wind

Lesson 14: Explain that wind is moving air. Demonstrate by making wind with a balloon: inflate a balloon and hold the neck shut; feel the side of the balloon (the air inside pushes out because it is at higher pressure); let the air out, holding your hand in front of the balloon to feel the ‘wind’ as the high pressure air escapes. If you have windy weather, make a point of going out and flying a kite this week. (The Earth, p.61; W&C, p.17)

Lesson 15: Learn about the Beaufort Scale. Make a page to add to your Weather Folder. (The Earth, p.61; W&C, p.17)
Key to Beaufort Scale (use alongside the illustrations in the book)
0 Calm — 1 Light Air
2 Light Breeze –3 Gentle Breeze
4 Moderate Breeze — 5 Fresh Breeze
6 Strong Breeze — 7 Moderate Gale
8 Fresh Gale9 Strong Gale
10 Whole Gale  11 Storm
12 Hurricane
See Beaufort Wind Scale for a more detailed table.

Lesson 16: Make a weather vane to find wind direction. Remember a north wind blows from the north. (W&C, p.18-19; not included in The Earth)
Instructions

  1. Cut an arrow shape (approximately 9 to 12 inches long) from stiff card, with one broad end and one narrow one.
  2. Tape a pen top (cap) firmly to the center of the arrow.
  3. Place the pen top onto the point of a knitting needle so that it moves freely.
  4. Fix the knitting needle to a brick (or other heavy base) using modelling clay.
  5. Mark the sides of the brick N, E, S and W.
  6. Place the weather vane in position, using a compass to site it correctly. Remember the arrow will point in the direction the wind is blowing from.

Record Keeping
Start keeping a record of both wind speed (using the Beaufort Scale) and wind direction. Either add this to your detailed weather record chart, or make a wind record page for the weather folder and record for two weeks.

Lesson 17: Like the sun, wind can be used to provide power. For hundreds of years windmills have been used to grind corn; nowadays, wind farms produce electricity. Make your own windmill.

Clouds

Lesson 18: Explain condensation and how clouds form. Place a cold can of drink in warm air and watch condensation form on the can. Explain that dew is condensation that forms on the ground as the air cools after a warm, dry day. (The Earth, p.62; W&C, p.20)
Lesson 19: Learn the main different types of cloud and how to measure cloud quantity. These fall into three groups: cirrus, cumulus and stratus. You might like to make a notebook page on clouds. (The Earth, p.63; W&C, p.21)

Record Keeping
Start recording cloud type and amount using the key below (for a minimum of two weeks).
Key: Cloud type and amount

Cloud Type Description Key
Cirrus High wispy cloud Ci
Fair weather cumulus Puffy white clouds Cu
Large cumulus Towering, cauliflower like clouds Cu2
Cumulonimbus Towering, clouds with spreading tops Cb
Altostratus Medium layer of grayish cloud, often covering the sky As
Nimbostratus Thicker than altostratus; rain Ns
Stratus Low cloud, often covering hilltops St

If you could move all the cloud together into a single patch, how much blue sky would you see?

Cloud Amount Description Key
3/4 blue sky or more Fine b
1/4 to 3/4 blue sky Fair bc
Less than 1/4 blue sky Cloudy c
Sky covered by cloud Overcast o

Weather Forecasting

Lesson 20: Look at weather forecast maps and, if possible, satellite weather photos (online or on TV). Monitor your local weather forecast for one week. How accurate is it?

Lesson 21: Try predicting your own weather. Here are some clues you can use:

  • Clouds – cumulus clouds usually mean fine weather, though very large ones often give showers; cirrus clouds warn of changing weather; cumulonimbus are storm clouds; alto stratus clouds foretell rain; nimbo stratus clouds are thick alto stratus clouds from which rain is already falling.
  • Wind – in the UK a north wind is cold and may bring snow; an east wind is usually cold and dry, bringing frost in winter; south with brings mild and often wet weather; the west wind brings rain and showers. Try to find the effect wind is likely to have on weather in your region.
  • Natural signs – seaweed and pine cones can predict rain (The Earth, p.70; W&C, p.30)
  • Sunrise and sunset – red sky at night means fine weather; red sky in the morning means wet weather.
  • Weather lore – does traditional weather lore give you any clues?

How close is your weather forecast to the official one? Which is right?

Lesson 22: Look back at your weather summary charts and check them against your list of weather lore. How accurate has the weather lore proved to be?

Rain and Fog
(Lessons 24 and 25 need to be given on a rainy day. Depending on local weather patterns you may need to leave these lessons until a season when rain is likely.)

Lesson 23: Explain how rain forms. Demonstrate by making your own rain. Make a notebook page on the water cycle for your weather notebook (draw or narrate). (The Earth, p.64; W&C, p.22; see The Earth, p.8 for an illustration of the water cycle).
Making rain
Fill a clear glass bowl with hot water. Cover with plastic wrap (clingfilm) and put ice cubes on top. Watch the water vapor inside the bowl condense into droplets on the plastic and grow until the rain’s back into the water.

Lesson 24: Go for a walk when it is raining and observe the rain. Are the raindrops big or small? How long does it take to get wet? How do animals and plants react to the rain? Where does the rain go? (Look at puddles, drains and guttering)

Lesson 25: Watch a puddle evaporate. Draw a line around a puddle with chalk. Check the puddle every hour to see how quickly it evaporates. Remember the place of evaporation in the water cycle.

Lesson 26: Make a rain detector. (The Earth, p.65; W&C, p.23)

Lesson 27: Make a simple rain gauge. (The Earth, p.65; W&C p.23)

Record Keeping
Start recording amount of rain (for a minimum of two weeks).

Lesson 28: Explain that mist and fog (thick mist) are made up of tiny drops of water, like clouds. They generally form overnight when warm air is cooled by contact with cold ground. Discuss visibility (how far you can see). Using a map work out the distance from your house of various landmarks to enable you to keep your own visibility record.


Visibility Table

Score Visibility Type Visibility Distance
1 Fog 200yds (200m)
2 Mist or Haze 2/3 mile (1 km)
3 Poor Visibility 1.3 miles (2 kms)
4 Moderate Visibility 5 miles (8 kms)
5 Good Visibility Over 5 miles (over 8 kms)

Record Keeping
Start recording visibility. If you have not been keeping a detailed weather chart, keep one for the next two weeks.

Ice and Snow

Lesson 29: Explain how snowflakes are formed. Examine frost crystals from your freezer under a magnifying glass. (The Earth, p.66-67; W&C, p.24-25)

Lesson 30: Demonstrate that water expands when it freezes: fill a plastic bottle with water and place a coin over the top; leave upright in the freezer overnight; check to see what happened to the coin. Explain that this is why frozen water pipes are likely to burst (water expands and cracks the pipe).

Violent Weather

Lesson 31: Explain how thunderstorms are caused. Use a balloon to demonstrate static electricity. (The Earth, p.68; W&C, p.26)

Lesson 32: Discuss hurricanes. Look at the US National Weather Service or UK Meteorological Office website to find information about hurricanes that have occurred recently or are predicted. On a outline map of the Americas color the areas that are most likely to be affected by hurricanes. (The Earth, p.68-9; W&C, p.26-7)

Lesson 33: Talk about tornadoes. Look at the US National Weather Service or
UK Meteorological Office websites for pictures of tornadoes. Mark on an outline world map areas most likely to be hit by tornadoes. (The Earth, p.69; W&C, p.27)

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