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Lesson #21. Weather Thematic Unit
Posted by Kyle Yamnitz, University of Missouri, USA
Level: Elementary - Fourth or Fifth
Materials Required: Varies with each lesson
Activity Time: Varies with each lesson
Concepts Taught: Listening, Problem Solving, Reasoning, Working Together in a Group, Speaking, Research, Group Cohesion, Writing, Creative Thinking
Goals: The goals for this thematic unit are for the students to gain an understanding of the causes and controls of weather, as well as an understanding of the differences in climate between different nations. Additional goals are to develop listening skills, creative problem solving skills, and speaking skills.
Lesson Plan 1: Listening 1(Other concepts include Problem Solving and Reasoning)
Title: The Sounds of Weather
Objective: This lesson is intended to promote critical listening. Following the lesson, students will have learned creative problem solving skills. In addition, students will become familiar with the various audible effects of weather, that is, the sounds of precipitation and sounds related to weather.
- Tape Recorder (with microphone)
- Blank Tapes
- Previously Recorded Sounds of Weather. These may be self made, or store bought (such as the "Nature Quest" Compact Disks and Cassettes available at Target).
- Some examples are:
- Rain falling on a rooftop, sidewalk, and/or pond
- Wind of varying strengths
- Hail falling
- Water running through gutters or drains
- Cars driving through puddles
- Snow grinding under car tires
- Construction work, etc. that would occur on a warm sunny day
- Waves from a lake crashing against the rocks
- Blowing snow
- Walking through dry leaves
- To begin with, have the various sounds recorded before beginning the project.
- Ask students to make a list of all the different sounds that can be heard from weather.
- Have students listen to the recordings and look for clues in the sounds as to what the weather may be like.
- Students should number their papers for each of the different sounds with a large amount of space between each. They may illustrate what they think the scene looks like and/or describe it in words. In their writings, students need to explain their reasoning.
- After the children are given time to record their responses, ask for volunteers to share their answers and explanations.
- Evaluation can be partially based upon the explanation of their reasoning as to what the weather scene may be.
Lesson Plan 2: Listening (Another concept is Working Together in a Group)
Title: The Causes of Weather
Objective: Students will be able to demonstrate the basic causes of weather patterns as well as what causes the weather to change.
Materials: Video: Colgren, John. (1993). Exploring Weather. Niles, IL: United.
- After a discussion of the causes of weather, show the video Exploring Weather, which will effectively illustrate the sights and sounds of normal and extreme weather, both locally and worldwide.
- Following the video, have students meet in groups to discuss the reasons for our own weather and its variations. They should include in their discussion what controls on weather that were presented in the video have an effect where we live.
- Evaluation may not be needed for this lesson. If anything, look at how well groups are working together.
Lesson Plan 3: Speaking (Also includes Research and Group Cohesion)
Title: Weather Reporters
Objective: The students will learn how to predict the weather, how information on the weather is gathered, what is involved in a typical television weather report, and gain experience in speaking in front of a group or to a video camera. In addition, the students will be able to comprehend the local weather reports on television. Also, students will learn the limitations of and difficulty in predicting the weather.
- Recorded Television News Broadcast (weather portion)
- Video Camera (if money and time permits)
- Weather Reporter (if available)
- After watching a typical television weather report students will have a good idea of what is involved in a weather report. This will assist in the construction of their own weather report.
- In class the basic methods of predicting weather will be presented. If one is available, a weather reporter could come as a guest speaker to explain how weather data is gathered as well as to describe the job of reporting weather and what is involved. He or she may give some tips on how to arrange their own weather reports.
- Groups of two, three, or four should work together to prepare their own weather broadcast. Most data should come from newspapers, the previous evening's news, and/or from internet weather providers. A great deal of weather information exists on the World Wide Web.
- Depending on class size and available time, two or three groups can present their report each day, so that weather reports for several different days will be presented.
Lesson Plan 4: Writing 1 (Also includes Creative Thinking)
Title: If There Were No...
Objective: The writing of this story will cause the students to think about what weather would be like without certain normal controls on the climate. This will help them to understand how important these controls are in worldwide weather patterns.
Topics, such as:
- If there were no sun, weather would change by... (change in temperature, no winds, no evaporation, etc.)
- If there were no winds, weather would change by... (no precipitation over land, etc.)
- If water did not freeze, weather would change by... (no glaciers, elevated sea level, etc.)
- If there were no ozone layer, weather would change by... (global warming, melting of glaciers, etc.)
- If warm air did not rise, weather would change by... (no condensation so no precipitation, no winds, etc.)
- If water did not evaporate, weather would change by... (no clouds, no precipitation, etc.)
- If there were no volcanoes, weather would change by... (no water anywhere, few gasses in the atmosphere, etc.)
- Invent your own control on weather
- Before discussing the paper, students should have an idea of what controls the weather and how each control effects the weather. Direct instruction or the movie for the listening lesson plan can serve the purpose of teaching about the controls of weather.
- A brief paper should be assigned with the option for students to choose between the various topics given previously.
Evaluation after Writing 1 Lesson Plan 4:
click the image to see a printable pdf file
Lesson Plan 5: Writing 2 (A related concept is Reasoning)
Title: Evaporation (Adapted from Kohl's Science Arts (1993).)
Objective: Students will learn how evaporation occurs through an artistic activity. They will also learn how the amount of heat available controls the rate of evaporation. Students will write up a lab report describing how evaporation occurs.
- Measuring Cups
- Torn Newspaper
- Spray Vegetable Oil
- Candy Molds
- Torn Colored Tissue Paper
- Mix 4 cups of water with one fourth cup torn newspaper in a blender.
- Add torn tissue paper for color, if desired.
- Strain off as much water as possible.
- Spray oil on the candy molds.
- Press the paper in the molds evenly.
- Use a sponge to remove excess water from the paper.
- Set some of the molds outside in direct sunlight, some in the shade, some inside in a windowsill, and some in a darker area inside.
- Monitor the drying times of the paper in various places.
- Allow to dry, then remove the dried paper from the molds.
- After experiment, have students write up a lab report on what happened to the paper and what caused the paper to dry faster in some places than in others.
- Evaluation may include consideration of how logical students' reasoning is, and how accurate their writings are.
Lesson Plan 6: Reading
Title: Independent Learning of Important Aspects of Weather
Objective: Students will choose their own books to help them construct their own knowledge of the way that weather works. They will learn various aspects of weather and share them with the class, thus learning from each other. Students will also learn helpful notetaking skills.
Materials: Large Number of Books From Resource List
- Students will be allowed to choose an informational book on weather from the resources list at the end of this thematic unit. If they have or find other books on weather, they may be used as well.
- Children should choose books based on their interests and their own reading levels.
- During the course of their reading, students should take notes on important or interesting facts or myths that they come across.
- After the students are finished with their readings, they will take turns sharing some of their most important and interesting information with the rest of the class.
- Other students should take notes on each others' information that was presented.
- Evaluation may include whether or not the information that students shared was significant and relevant to the topic. Also, check to see that students chose an appropriate book for the topic and thier reading level.
Lesson Plan 7: Multicultural (Additional concept is Research)
Title: The Weather Here Is...
Objective: Students will gain an insight into the variations in climate around the world and will learn what other people do to cope with extreme temperatures and weather patterns.
- Computers With Internet Access (if available)
- Computers With Programs Such as World Book Information Finder, World Atlas, etc. (if available)
- Each student should begin by picking a different country around the world, with all continents being represented.
- Students should have a large amount of time to do research on the country they chose using internet resource, World Book Information Finder, computer and library atlases, and any other available resources. They should find out the typical climates of these regions and how the inhabitants deal with the weather.
- After the students have done sufficient research, they will assume that they are on vacation in the country that they chose. After being gone so long, they miss mom and dad so much and decide to write to them and let them know what the weather is like. This letter should include descriptions of the current weather as well as how the climate varies over the different seasons. They should discuss in depth how everyone there deals with the weather and give their own ideas as well for staying warm, cool, dry, or whatever.
Evaluation after Multicultural Lesson Plan 7:
click the image to see a printable pdf file
Barrett, Judi. (1978). Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. NY: MacMillan Publishing Company.
A grandfather tells a story about a town where it rained food.
Pearson, S. (1988). My Favorite Time of Year. NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
A young girl goes through a typical year and says how she likes each season the best, but in the end says that she likes them all the best.
Skofield, J. (1984). All Wet! All Wet! NY: Harper & Row, Publishers.
Strong attention to detail in this description of a rainy summer day from the point of view of a young boy.
Szilagyi, M. (1985). Thunderstorm. NY: Bradberry Press.
A young girl is comforted by her mother in a thunderstorm and in turn comforts her dog. Contains a good amount of information about weather.
Tresselt, A. (1988). White Snow, Bright Snow. NY: Mulberry Books.
As it begins to look like snow is coming, everyone prepares for a winter blizzard,
with a description of the transition of the seasons.
Wisniewski, D. (1991). Rain Player. NY: Clarion Books.
A boy named Pic challenges the rain god to a game in order to bring rain to his village. Based on an ancient Mayan tale.
Barr, J. (1970). What Will the Weather Be? Chicago: Whitman.
Describes how weathermen go about finding out the weather forecast by using certain weather tools.
Harvey, F. (1969). Why Does it Rain? NY: Harvey House.
This book briefly explains the causes of various types of precipitation and their effects.
Knapp, B. (1990). Storm. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn.
Discusses how storms form, the types of storms, and their benefits and effects.
Simon, S. (1989). Storms. NY: Morrow Junior Books.
This book describes the atmospheric conditions which create thunderstorms and other weather occurrences.
Fisher, A. (1963). I Like Weather. NY: Crowell.
In a long poem, a young boy tells what he and animals like about the weather and how the seasons affect them.
Hopkins, L. (1994). Weather: Poems. NY: HarperCollins.
This is a collection of poems describing various weather conditions by various authors.
Prelutsky, J. (1983). The Random House Book of Poetry for Children. NY: Random House.
This is a great collection of poems with a surprisingly large number of poems that deal with weather.
Yolen, J. (1993). Weather Report: Poems. NY: Saint Martin's Press.
Contains a collection of poems by various authors about different aspects of
weather and the seasons.
Dyer, N. (1992). The Snow Speaks. Canada: Little, Brown & Company.
Keats, E. (1962). The Snowy Day. NY: The Viking Press.
Mirriam, S. (1960). The Sun, the Wind, the Sea, and the Rain. NY: Abelard-Schuman.
Polacco, P. (1990). Thunder Cake. NY: Scholastic, Inc.
Rockwell, A. (1987). The First Snowfall. NY: MacMillan Publishing Company.
Scheer, J. (1964). Rain Makes Applesauce. NY: Holiday House.
Stanley, S. (1993). The Rains Are Coming. NY: Green Willow Books.
Wilder, L. (1994). Winter Days in the Big Woods. NY: HarperCollins.
Branley, F. (1986). Snow is Falling. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell Junior Books.
Cooper, J. (1992). Wind. Vero Beach, FL: The Rourke Corp., Inc.
Gibbons, G. (1987). Weather Forecasting. NY: Four Winds Press.
Knapp, B. (1991). Science in Our World. Danbury, CT: Grolier.
Merk, A. (1994). Clouds. Vero Beach, FL: The Rourke Corp., Inc.
Palmer, J. (1993). Snow and Ice. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, Publishers.
Palmer, J. (1993). Sunshine. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, Publishers.
Palmer, J. (1993). Wind. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, Publishers.
Taylor, B. (1993). Weather and Climate. NY: Kingfisher Books.
Adoff, A. (1976). Tornado! NY: Delacorte Press.
Anholt, C. (1995). Sun Snow Stars Sky. NY: Viking.
Brewton, J. (1949). Bridled With Rainbows. NY: The MacMillan Company.
Janeczko, P. (1987). This Delicious Day. NY: Orchard Books.
Yolen, J. (1993). Raining Cats and Dogs. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Apollo Educational Video. (1988). Weather Volume I. Oklahoma City, OK: Concord Video. This video shows how the forces of nature interact to create our weather. Covers all essential components of weather and precipitation.
Colgren, J. (1993). Exploring Weather. Niles, IL: United.
This video discusses the weather, the causes of weather patterns, and changes in the weather, including how people's lives are affected by the weather.
Covent Garden Books. (1995). The Weather Set. NY: Covent Garden Books.
(Collection of weather experiments and equipment for conducting the experiments)
Educational Insights, (1989). Sky Science. Educational Insights.
(Informational cards with experiments)
Internet resources for very up-to-date weather information.
Local news weather person as a guest speaker.
Newspapers for current weather information
Tiger Electronics. (1991). Ecology Kit: Deluxe Ecology Test Kit. Vernon Hills, IL: Tiger Electronics, Inc.
(Collection of quality experiments, a large portion of which deal with weather, and equipment for conducting the experiments)
Various weather measurement tools for immediate weather conditions such as thermometer, barometer, hygrometer, wet-bulb thermometer, etc.
Farndon, J. (1992). Weather. NY: Dorling Kindersley, Inc.
Kohl, M. (1993). Science Arts: Discovering Science Through Art Experiences. Bellingham, WA: Bright Ring Publishing.
Merk, A. (1994). The Weather and Us. Vero Beach, FL: The Rourke Corp., Inc.
Milliken, L. (1991). Classroom Kickoff. Dana Point, CA: Edupress.
VanCleave, J. (1991). Earth Science For Every Kid. NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Sheppard, J. (199?). Understanding Weather. Paragon, IN: Big Sky Telegraph. Telnet: 188.8.131.52
Torgerson, J. (1994). Weather Forecasting. Big Sky Telegraph. (CECsci.184)
Weather Here and There Homepage:
Colgren, J. (1993). Exploring Weather. Niles, IL: United.
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