Academic journal article Science and Children

The Wonders of Weather

Academic journal article Science and Children

The Wonders of Weather

Article excerpt

Winter weather often inspires teachers' and students' interest in collecting weather data, especially if snow falls. Beginning weather data collection in preschool will introduce children to the concepts of making regular observations of natural phenomena, recording the observations (data), and looking for patterns in data. Through this, children become familiar with making observations in a scientific investigation as an ongoing process and become more aware of the weather.

Measuring precipitation and other weather data is part of the National Science Education Content Standard D: changes in the Earth and sky; and Standard G: science as a human endeavor (NRC 1996). A Frame-work for K-12 Science Education describes Grade Band Endpoints (what students should know by the end of grade 2, 5, 8, and 12) that relate specifically to the study of weather and to how climate affects living organisms (NRC 2012). We should keep in mind Grade 2 Band Endpoint for ESS2.D as students progress in learning about this disciplinary core idea: "Weather is the combination of sunlight, wind, snow or rain, and temperature in a particular region at a particular time. People measure these conditions to describe and record the weather and to notice patterns over time."

Children use symbols and vocabulary words in recording daily weather data to represent weather events such as a cloudy day. Exposing children to print supports their awareness of the importance of text (Young 2009). In comparing the recorded weather one month to the next, children count and create simple graphs of their data. Incorporating the weather data into a student newspaper "weather report" connects to social studies curriculum (Sahn and Reichel 2008). See NSTA Connection for more ideas on connecting across the curriculum.

Recording data on the temperature, amount of precipitation, presence of wind, and cloud cover to answer the question, "Will the weather be the same or different as the days go by?" can become a daily routine for student engagement. If you are not living in a place with daily or seasonal weather fluctuations, another option is to make observations at different times of the day (e.g., early-morning temperature versus late-afternoon temperature). Children will enjoy having responsibility for the daily data recording. They will be practicing real science, collecting real data, comparing it, and discussing the meaning of the differences and similarities in weekly weather.

Peggy Ashbrook ( is the author of Science Is Simple: Over 250 Activities for Preschoolers and teaches preschool science in Alexandria, Virginia.

Observing Weather


Students will participate in an ongoing data collection of local weather conditions.


1. Prepare materials for your class to collect weather data over a period of several months or for the school year. Print, copy, and cut out the weather symbol strips for recording individual weather observations. Make a simple rain gauge (see Internet Resources for instructions). Attach pictures representing temperature's highs and lows to an outdoor thermometer for preK students to use as reference points. Set up the thermometer where students can see it. Print off the recording sheets for temperature and rainfall observations (NSTA Connections).

2. Take weather symbol strips, blue and white crayons, quarter sheets of blue construction paper, rainfall recording sheets, and temperature recording sheets outside at recess. …

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