Have you ever considered how much math you can cover as you study the weather?
From the graceful arc of the rainbow, the incredible formations of the clouds, to the seasonal variation in temperature, come on a weather discovery adventure with me and add some math to your day.
Because we have such long dry summers, when it rains, it is a time of celebration. The dams start to fill up, the lake is renewed and our water tanks overflow at last! I don’t think I ever really appreciated how essential rain is to our lives until we had to live off the water in our tanks.
One simple way to encourage children to look at volume is to place a rain gauge in your garden. Ask some questions as you keep a daily record of the rainfall in your area.
How much rain did we get today? Is that more or less than yesterday? Don’t underestimate the importance of zero. We often have no rain, 0ml.
The older children might like to research what the yearly average is for your area. On a wet week, they could work out the percentage of your yearly average. Take time to read or listen to the daily forecast, how much rain is predicted for tomorrow, did you receive more or less?
Record the rain for your area, create a table or make a graph.
Research the size of a raindrop and learn about a ‘Disdrometer.’
The How and Why Book of Weather has a wonderful page about observing the sky. The page is called ‘SKY PICTURES’ and it describes the sky like this:
“The sky around you is like a giant picture which keeps changing as the weather changes…”
I love this description as it reminds me of when I was young, and I would lie on the grass and watch the clouds. I would wonder if a cloud weighed anything, hanging there above my head. Maybe you would like to ask your children, “How much does a cloud weigh?”. Do they know that a cloud is made up of tiny water droplets? Does water weigh anything? How could we work out if clouds weigh anything?
Something else you may like to learn about is the different kinds of clouds and the altitudes at which they form. You will find a cloud chart on our freebie page here, (scroll down to see all of the weather resources) and you can find an altitude guide here at the World Meteorological Organization’s Cloud Atlas.
After learning about the clouds, you may like to make a ‘weather through the day’ collage.
We enjoyed taking photos over a day and talking about the sky picture at different times.
Reading the poem, “Who Has Seen the Wind” by Christina Rossetti is a lovely way to introduce the concept of wind with your little ones. Ask them, have they seen the wind? How can they ‘see’ the wind? Can they feel the wind? Brainstorm with them all the ways that they can think of that tell them the wind is passing by.
Although the air has been very still here over the past week, we can get crazy wind gusts of up to 100km/hr coming off the mountains. The last storm we had, they recorded a gust of up to 130km/hr. According to the Beaufort Wind scale that is 12, the highest level of severe damage, and hurricane force winds. Have your children paste a copy of the Beaufort wind scale in their nature journals as a reference. Putting weather data into your journals is a good way to record what you are observing.
If you love creating and making things, consider making your own weather station at home, Inventors of Tomorrow has all the info you need!
We made these fun weather vanes by using the step-by-step instructions at Handmade Charlotte. Instead of her super cute Octopus, we decided to give ours an Australian Animal Theme. I especially love the spinning circle attachment on the post of the weather vane!
Now that we have these gorgeous, fun weather-vanes in our garden we can consider the wind direction.
Of course, no study would be complete without adding some books! Have you considered giving your children a few books, at different ages, on the same topic, and have them compare the information and data?
I love collecting old science books and comparing the information that is included in them. We had a ‘How and Why – Weather book from the 1960s, a DK Eyewitness – Weather book from the 1990s, and a beautiful new book called Australia’s Wild, Weird and Wonderful Weather, by Stephanie Owen Reeder and Tania McCartney, printed in 2020. You might be able to find some other book treasures, and keep your eye on the secondhand booksellers, just because the information in the old science book is outdated, don’t discount it, as it is a great researching activity to see what has changed over the years.
Hopefully, I have given you some ideas to start an investigation of the weather, but there is so much more!
- Barometric Pressure
- Precipitation – not just rain, consider hail, snow, frost, dew…
- Weather instruments
- Storms, Lightening, Thunder
- Drought and Flood
- Wild Weather – Hurricanes, Cyclones, Tornadoes, Tsunamis
- Weather forecasting, weather mapping
So much to explore! And if you discover that your little person loves weather so much that they want to be a meteorologist, they might enjoy watching this video.
If you would like to find a discussion place for all things relating to teaching your children math, you can join our MeWe group.
And don’t forget to download your free badge book and badges for our Nature Club where you will find a new weather challenge to earn badges.
If you would like to explore weather further, consider The Backyard Nature Study Guide, Volume 6, Autumn/Winter.