Fun With The Weather!

Children love learning about the weather.   Kids observe the weather everyday, and cannot help but be curious about.  I always make studying the weather part of my science lessons with my second graders.

Here are some tips to make your air and weather studies fun.

1.     Weather can be studied year round. Since the weather is always changing, there is always something new to discuss. Depending on the part of the country you live in, however, there may be certain times of the year where getting outside and studying it becomes inconvenient.  I live in Chicago, so the ideal time to study the weather with my class is in the spring and fall.  So try to plan your studies for convenient times of year to be outside for your explorations.

2.     Get outside with your class.  Build nature walks, leaf rubbing activities, apple picking, planting seeds, and other highly engaging activities into your unit.  Children love to work with nature and be a part of it.  Remember that having classes outside can be a memorable learning experience for students.

3.     Talk about the weather.  It seems mundane to us, but children enjoy talking about foggy days, temperatures, and of course snow falls (if you live in a part of the country with snow).  As the weather begins to break each spring, children enjoy longer days, rain puddles and budding flowers.  Encourage these discussions and remember that for children they are an important part of learning about the seasons.

4.     Celebrate each season with your class.  It's challenging to embrace the highs and lows of each season for adults.  Living in Chicago, I am challenged each winter to find something cheery about the season.  Then I remember how important the gently melting snow is to nourishing the earth, so that it can grow plants again in the spring.  To remind myself and my students that spring is coming, each Groundhog's day we plant an amaryllis bulb in our classroom.  As we watch it grow, the days begin to get longer, and the temperature begins to go up.  It's a fun tradition.  Every season is important, and share the reasons why with your students.

5.     You can keep it simple.  The weather is all around us, you can study the types of clouds, chart the sunsets over a period of time, make shadow clocks, or conduct any other number of free weather observations with your students.  You can also check out my free Air Minilesson.  It's a great way to get your students started with studying the weather.

What fun weather explorations do you like to do with your students?  Or, is there another science unit that you and your students enjoy exploring?  Feel free to share it in the comments section below.


Geometry Fun

One of my favorite units of study with my students is geometry.  It's so much fun, and there is so much for students to learn.  It's always challenging for students to learn the difference between pyramids and prisms.  One of the best ways to teach the difference is by having students create them.  I like to use marshmallows and toothpicks.  If you do this, I recommend telling your students that you have a bunch of fresh marshmallows for them to eat when they're all finished.  Otherwise, students will eat too many while creating their projects. 

To help students I begin by modeling how to create the base of either the pyramid or prism.  I remind them that it is the base of either solid that creates the name.  For example, a triangular prism has a triangular base.  So, we begin by creating the base of the shape with marshmallows and toothpicks.  Then we begin building up.  Once students create their first prism they get the hang of it, and are ready to create more with less guidance.  I usually give my students time to explore on their own, after creating the first prism together.  Once students seem to have exhausted making prisms, I introduce pyramids.  Pyramids are created the
same way, except the sides all converge into a point.  Students are able to create pyramids very easily after making their own prisms.  The next day I begin my 3-D Shapes:  Understanding and Identifying Solid Prisms and Pyramids lesson with my students to further reinforce the lesson, and assess them.

I have students leave the pyramids and prisms on their desks to harden over night, and the next day they are able to take them home.


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