Use homemade meteorological equipment to record the weather for a week.
Early Learning Goal links
- Mathematics ELG: Numerical Patterns
- Understanding the World ELG: Past and Present
- Understanding the World ELG: People, Culture and Communities
- Understanding the World ELG: The Natural World
STEM vocabulary to introduce
Rain, wind, clouds, dark, light, fast, slow, hard, gentle, soft, move, fall, measure, record, amount, more, less.
Before you start
You could introduce the activity by reading Little Cloud by Anne Booth.
Show the children the meteorologist poster and tell the children that they are going to be meteorologists for this activity.
Ask the children if they know what a meteorologist does. Meteorologists use special equipment and make forecasts of what the weather is going to be like.
Tell the children about the attributes. Meteorologists are:
Curious. Meteorologists want to know what the weather will be like in the future.
Observant. Meteorologists look at what the weather is like today.
Collaborative. Meteorologists work together with other people to get their job done.
Tell the children that meteorologists are curious about how the weather changes each day. Show the children your recording sheet and explain how they are going observe and record the weather each day.
Rain gauge- how to make it
You will need:
- A 2l plastic bottle
- Sharp scissors
Step 1: take the plastic bottle and carefully cut off the top about two thirds of the way up. This will make the funnel to catch the rain.
Step 2: turn your new funnel upside-down, then place it into the remaining part of the bottle.
Step 3: place your rain gauge outside in a place where it will be exposed to rain but won’t be knocked over by children playing.
To stop your rain gauge from blowing over in the wind, you could weigh it down by placing a few stones in the bottom. You could also try stabilising your rain gauge by digging a hole for it and burying it a few centimetres deep in soil.
Rain gauge- what to do
- Show the children the rain gauge and ask what they think it is used for. Explain to them that it is for collecting the rain to see how much has fallen.
- Put the rain gauge outside somewhere it will catch the rain but won’t be knocked over by children playing.
- Help a group of children each day to read the water level by pouring the water out into a measuring container. This could measure the rainfall overnight or during the school day.
- Ask the children to record the volume of water on the chart.
Wind sock- how to make it
You will need:
- A 2l plastic bottle or part of the bottle you used for the rain gauge
- At least 2 plastic bags- thick, brightly coloured ones are best
- Sharp scissors
Step 1: cut off the bottom of your bottle. Then cut across your container at about 3 cm along. You should now have a ring of plastic.
Step 2: open up your plastic bag by cutting along the side seams. Then cut a 2 cm strip from one side of your bag.
Step 3: Fold your plastic bag strip in half and slide it through your plastic ring.
Step 4: pull the ends of the plastic strip over the ring. Push the two ends of the strip through the loop you created in the middle of the strip.
Step 5: pull the ends to tighten the loop around the ring. Continue adding strips of plastic bag until you have covered the entire plastic ring.
Step 6: attach a 40 cm length of string to your ring at points opposite each other. Hang your windsock from a pole or line outside so it can be seen from the side and below.
Wind sock – what to do
- Hang the windsock above children’s head level, where they can see it from all directions. The middle of a washing line across part of the outdoor area would be perfect.
- Help a group of children to observe the wind. To observe the wind direction, children need to stand underneath the windsock and look up to see which way the wind is blowing the sock. They can record this direction on the weather chart using an arrow.
- To record the strength of the wind, the children need to look at the windsock from the side and record the angle of the windsock in comparison to the ground. The children can also record this on the weather chart using an arrow.
Using the weather chart
When looking at the weather charts, you could ask:
- How much rain did we collect today/altogether?
- Which way was the wind blowing?
- How hard was the wind blowing?
- What do you think the weather will be like tomorrow?
- Was the weather the same today as it was yesterday?
- What do you think it will be like tomorrow?
- Can you spot any patterns in the weather?
Other things to try
Remember to refer to the children as meteorologists and praise them for using the attributes. You could say things like:
“Well done, you observed how fast the wind was blowing and in which direction by looking carefully at the windsock…”
The science of the weather station
We have put together some useful information about the science of the weather station to accompany this activity. Don’t worry this is for your information only and to help you answer any questions children may have. We don’t expect you to explain this to the children in your setting!
Where does rain come from?
Rain comes from rain clouds called cumulonimbus and nimbostratus clouds.
Where does the rain go?
Rain seeps into the land or becomes runoff and flows into sewers, streams and rivers, which eventually flow into the sea or into lakes and reservoirs, some of which is used as our drinking water. The water on earth is heated by the sun, evaporates and condenses into clouds, before it falls as rain again. This is what we call the water cycle.
Is rain useful?
All living things need water to survive, but trees and plants need water from rain to make their food and wild animals need it to drink. The water we drink comes from the rain, but it is collected in reservoirs and cleaned before we get it through pipes to our buildings and homes.
Where does wind come from?
Wind is the movement of air around our atmosphere. Wind comes from two places. Surface temperatures are warmer near the equator. Air rises at the equator and travels north or south towards the poles where it cools and falls. Winds are also created due to the rotation of the Earth – the Coriolis effect. Air moves from places of high pressure (where there’s a lot of it) to places of low pressure (where there is less of it).
Why does the wind blow harder some days than others?
Air moves from high-pressure areas to low-pressure areas. The bigger the difference between the pressures, the faster the air will move from the high to the low pressure. That rush of air is the wind we experience.
Why does the wind blow in different directions?
Again, this is due to the movement of air from high-pressure areas to low pressure areas.
Is wind useful?
Wind is extremely useful, we can use it to turn wind turbines which generate electricity for our homes. Birds use the wind to help them fly and some plants use it to spread their seeds over long distances.
What you’ll need
- A rain gauge (see instructions) made from an empty 2l plastic bottle
- Sharp scissors
- A wind sock (see instructions) made from a section of plastic bottle, at least 2 plastic bags and some string
- A weather chart (like this one) for each day or laminated chart
- Pens for recording
- The meteorologist poster
10 minutes or so, daily.Meteorologist poster