Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Unit Resource Portfolio: Weather


During their second grade year, students learn in-depth about the weather. SOL 2.6 builds on previous SOLs in Kindergarten and First Grade, through which students have already learned about observing weather and the ways basic weather concepts such as heat, light and precipitation affect human beings and other living things. In second grade, students expand on their knowledge by investigating and observing different types of weather and weather patterns.

Weather is one of the most dynamic and interesting scientific subjects. Weather patterns change every day, based on wind, temperature and precipitation and weather affects everyone. Extremes in these components of weather can cause droughts and floods and significantly impact our lives. It is important to collect weather information using scientific instruments so that weather patterns and changes can be observed and predicted. Storms are an example of extreme weather that humans work hard to observe and predict. There are many types of storms including thunderstorms, tornadoes and blizzards.

In this portfolio, teachers will find a comprehensive instructional plan for an entire science unit on weather. The instructional plan uses hands-on activities and literature that will engage students in the study of weather and also includes straightforward methods of assessment for the unit. Examples of foldables are included as well, along with several web resources that will enhance understanding and interest for students.

SOL 2.6 The student will investigate and understand the basic types, changes, and patterns of weather. Key concepts include:
a) Temperature, wind, precipitation, drought, flood, and storms; and
b) the uses and importance of measuring and recording weather data.

Important Vocabulary:
  • weather - the state of the atmosphere at a given time or place; includes temperature, moisture, wind speed, and pressure
  • wind - the perceptible, natural movement of air
  • temperature - the degree of heat present in an object or the atmosphere
  • precipitation (rain, sleet, snow, hail, ice) - rain, snow, sleet or hail that falls to the ground; temperature determines the type of percipitation
  • evaporation - the process of becoming a vapor
  • condensation - water that collects as droplets
  • thermometer - an instrument ofr measuring temperature
  • rain gauge - an instrument for measuring percipitation
  • anomometer - an instrument for measuring the speed of wind
  • hurricane - a severe storm having sinds greater than 74mph
  • tornado - a mobile vortex of violently rotating winds with the appearance of a funnel-shaped cloud
  • blizzard - a sever snowstorm with high winds and limited visibility
  • thunderstorm - a storm with thunder or lightning and typically heavy rain or hail
  • drought - a prolonged period of abnormally low precipitation; a shortage of water results from this
  • flood - an overflowing of a large amoutn of water beyond its normal confines, especially over what is normally dry land

Instruction Plan

Day 1: What is weather?
Begin the class by gathering students on the reading rug. Ask the students, “What is weather?” Allow time for several responses. Weather is the state of the atmosphere – there can be many variations in weather, including differences in temperature, wind and precipitation. Ask the students, “What kind of words do we use to describe the weather?” Read the book “Weather Words and What They Mean” by Gail Gibbons. After allowing time for questions, instruct students to get a clipboard, “Weather Observations” handout and pencil. Take the students outside and walk around – ask them to write down as many words as they can think of to describe today’s weather. Show them a previously-placed thermometer and have them record the temperature. Upon returning to the classroom, gather students on the reading rug again and ask them to tell you their words. List the words on a large piece of chart paper labeled “weather words.” Explain that each day of the unit on weather, they will be asked to describe the weather and come up with new words where applicable. In the unit, they will learn about different types of weather, weather patterns, and even how to observe and record weather data.

Day 2: Precipitation
Gather students on the reading rug and read “Splish! Splash!: A Book About Rain,” by Josepha Sherman. Rain is a type of precipitation. Ask the students, “What is precipitation?” Precipitation occurs when water that is evaporated into the atmosphere (becomes a gas) is transformed back into a liquid (or a solid) through condensation and falls back to earth. Draw a simplified water cycle on the board and guide students through making their own. Ask the students, “What other types of precipitation are there? What other differences in weather can we observe when it snows vs. when it rains, or when it hails vs. when it rains?” (temperature, season). Guide the students in creating a precipitation foldable (see handouts). End the lesson by taking students outside to observe the weather and then adding any necessary words to the Weather Words chart.

Day 3: Precipitation
Students will then create a simple terrarium so that they may observe the water cycle/precipitation in action. (see instructions) The terrarium will be made in groups of four out of a jar with a tight-fitting lid, soil, pebbles and water. Students should leave their terrariums on a window sill upon completion. Students will observe changes in their terrarium over the next few days. Each student should receive a hand-out on which to record their observations. After students have created their terrarium, gather them again and ask, “How can we measure precipitation?” We can measure rain with a rain gauge. After explaining how a rain gauge works, take students outside so you can place a rain gauge and so that they can write down the day’s weather observations. End the lesson by adding any necessary words to the Weather Words chart paper.

Day 4: Wind and Anemometers
Gather students on the reading rug and ask the students, “Is it windy today? How can you tell?” Read the book “Feel the Wind” by Arthur Dorros. We feel the movement of air as wind. We describe wind in terms of its speed (how fast it is moving) and its direction. One of the ways that wind was measured historically was by using a wind vane. Show students an example. A wind vane is also known as an anemometer. Students will then create their own anemometer using a pencil, pushpin and Dixie cups. (see instructions) After all students have constructed their anemometers, take them outside with their weather observation sheets and their new anemometers so that they can record observations and any new words. Instruct them to use their anemometer to inform their observations on the wind (Did the anemometer move? How fast? Etc.).

Day 5: Clouds
Begin the lesson by asking students to describe the different clouds they see in the sky. Ask the students, “What are clouds made of?” Clouds are made up of water that has gone through condensation after evaporation and has turned back into a liquid. All forms of precipitation fall from clouds. There are many different types of clouds. Display pictures of different types of clouds and lead students through the characteristics of each. Guide students through the creation of a foldable about the different types of clouds – stratus, cumulus, nimbus, etc. Then, instruct students to take a towel that they have brought from home and their interactive notebook outside. Once outside (weather permitting), students will lie on the ground and observe the clouds in the sky. Students will describe the clouds they see and try to identify them based on the characteristics listed in their foldable.

Day 6: Storms
Gather students and begin the discussion on storms by asking,” Have you ever experienced a storm? What type of storm was it?” Emphasize that there are several different types of storms that we experience from year to year in Virginia. Storms typically vary by the season and are characterized by extremes in wind and precipitation. Show video examples of storms listed below. After each video clip, define each type of storm and when during the year it typically occurs – hurricane, tornado, blizzard and thunderstorm. After students see videos of each, they will create a foldable with important information about each storm – see picture. Take students outside to observe the weather to end the lesson.

Day 7: Weather Extremes
Gather students and begin the discussion by asking, “What happens when it keeps raining and raining for days or weeks? Have you ever experienced something like that? What about when it doesn’t rain for days or weeks?” We talked yesterday about different types of storms – these are also examples of weather extremes, which occur when much greater or much less than average precipitation, temperature or wind occurs over an extended period of time. Some common weather extremes include droughts and floods. Show students video/news footage of droughts and floods. Hand out chart labeled “Drought” and “Flood” (see handout) and guide students through listing differences between the two. Take students outside to observe the weather to end the lesson.

Day 8: How Weather Affects Us
Gather students and begin discussion by asking, “In what ways does weather directly affect you and your day to day life?” There are a variety of ways that weather changes how we go about our daily lives. It affects our clothing and activity choices. Lead the students in a game called “Mystery Vacation.” Pretend to unpack a suitcase with different articles of clothing and necessary items for activities that are specific to certain types of weather. Invite students to test their classmates as a large group or in smaller groups. Explain to students that weather also affect what people do for a living and what food we eat. Guide students in creating a foldable (see below) to demonstrate how weather affects these four aspects of life: clothing, activities, livelihood, food. Take students outside to observe the weather at the end of the lesson.

Day 9: Predicting the Weather
Gather students and begin the lesson by reading “Weather Forecasting” by Gail Gibbons. A meteorologist is someone who observes and records weather information and uses it to predict the weather. We see meteorologists on television, but they work behind the scenes too. Let’s be meteorologists! First, take students outside to observe the weather as before. Upon returning to the classroom, students should look back over their notes on temperature, wind, and cloud cover/precipitation descriptions. Have the students tell you their observations for each day while you graph it on chart papers at the front of the room. Use student volunteers to help you. Once you have graphed their observations, invite students to make predictions for tomorrow and the rest of the week’s weather. Use Google Earth to view the weather satellite view of the Earth. While viewing Google Earth, ask students if they’d like to edit any of their predictions. Use Google Earth to view the weather in several locations around the world.

Day 10: Review
Lead students through a review of their unit on weather by playing a game of “Weather Jeopardy.” Students will play in three teams, with two rounds. Every student will answer the Final Jeopardy questions individually with the opportunity to win extra points for their team. Each student who answers the Final Jeopardy question correctly will receive two extra points on their test. For questions and points values, see link to this PowerPoint.

Literature Connections

Feel the Wind by Arthur Dorres. (1990) 32p. Collins, (9780064450959). Gr. K-3.

This fun book simplifies facts about wind so that they are easy to understand. Children will learn about what causes wind, its place in weather, and how we can use it. There are also instructions on how to make your own anemometer.

How the Weather Works: A Hands on Guide to Our Changing Climate by Christiane Dorion. (2011) 20p. Templar, (9780763652623). Gr. K-3.

In this book, Dorian presents complicated information about the science of weather and breaks them down into manageable pieces of information for children. This book also delves into climate change, and how humans are affecting such changes on the earth and atmosphere. There are also experiement suggestions in this book.

Hurricanes! by Gail Gibbons. (2010) 32p. Holiday House, (9780823422746). Gr. K-3.

In this books, Gibbons presents information about hurricanes in a kid-friendly way, with interesting water-color images and simple facts about the different types of hurricanes, where they occur, and how meteorologists predict them. Gibbons also includes information on what to do if a hurricane threatens your area.

Oh Say Can You Say What's the Weather Today? All About Weather by Trish Rabe. (2004) 48p. Publisher, (9780375822766). Gr. K-3.

This book is written in the Doctor Seuss-style, and promises to be a fun read about weather. In the book, the Cat in the Hat and his friends travel up by hot-air balloon and expreience different types of weather. The book also gives information on different types of weather instruments.

Splish! Splash! A Book About Rain by Josepha Sherman. (2006) 24p. Picture Window Books, (9781404803398). Gr. K-3.

This book uses fun pictures and simple vocabulary to explain where rain comes from and why rain is important to the earth and to humans. Sherman also delves into what happens when too much rain (flooding) or not enought rain (drought) occurs.

The Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm: A Book About Weather by Nancy White. (2000) 32p. Scholastic Paperbacks, (9780439102759). Gr. K-3.

This book reads like many other books in the Magic School Bus series - the characters learn about a concept by experiencing it first-hand in an adventurous and exciting way. To learn about weather, the bus is turned into a water droplet, and students also experience different types of precipitation and learn about wind.

Tornadoes! by Gail Gibbons. (2010) 32p. Holiday House, (9780823422746). Gr. K-3.

Much like her book on hurricanes, Gibbons uses fantastic water-color pictures and simplified facts to convey information about tornadoes to children. Gibbons reviews how tornadoes form, their classification system, and even gives children instructions on what to do if a tornado is in their area.

Weather Forecasting by Gail Gibbons. (1993) 32p. Aladdin, (9780689716836). Gr. K-3.

In this book, Gibbons takes children through the four seasons and the weather that is associated with each one. She uses meteorologists at a weather station to explain how seasonal weather is predicted, observed and recorded. Some of the terms may be complicated for children, but Gibbons breaks them down so that they are easier to understand.

Weather Words and What They Mean by Gail Gibbons. (1992) 30p. Publisher, (9780823409525). Gr. K-3.

This is a great book to use in order to review weather concepts and vocabulary. Teachers could also use this book as an introduction to a unit on weather. Gibbons includes different types of precipitation, weather instruments, temperature and much more. She even gives students a page of interesting facts about weather.

What Will the Weather Be? by Lynda Dewitt. (1993) 32p. Publisher, (9780064451130). Gr. K-3.

This book is also a good book to use as an introduction to a weather unit, particularly when teaching students about how weather is predicted. Dewitt reviews with children how weather can affect our daily lives and decisions and why experts work so hard to predict it.

Web Resources
Dan's Wild Weather - Clouds
This page about clouds is part of a larger website about weather created by meteorologist Dan Satterfield. The cloud page has a gallery of pictures of clouds and defines the different types of clouds. Satterfield also gives information on how clouds form in the sky and offers different cloud-related activities to use in the classroom.

FEMA Kids Disaster Preparedness
This website gives kids information on how they can help their families prepare for weather-related disasters including tornadoes, hurricans, floods, and tsunamis. Information is given on what to include in an emergency kit, how to develop a family plan, and facts about different types of disasters.

Scholastic Interactive Weather Maker
This webpage gives students the opportunity to control the weather using humidity and temperature. They must follow a couple of guidelines, but as they make changes, they are given information on why their changes caused the type of weather they see.

The Weather Channel
This website, which is the kids portion of the main Weather Channel website, gives students opportunities to engage in a variety of weather-related activities. Students can type in their location to see the weather forecast for their area, look up difficult weather concepts in a weather encyclopedia, play weather games and learn about climate change. This website also gives information about how to prepare for any type of weather.

Weather Wiz Kids
This websire was created by meteorologist Crystal Wicker to teach children about weather. The website contains information about a large variety of weahter concepts including different types of storms, precipitation, and temperature. Wicker also includes information on weather safety as well as weather games and flashcards for review.

  1. Weather observations rubric
  2. Drought/flood chart rubric
  3. Jeopardy game
  4. Precipitation foldable
  5. Cloud foldable
  6. Storm foldable

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