When we study weather in science, our dramatic play center becomes a weather station. With self-made instruments, hands-on experiments, and â as always â plenty of literacy, the weather station inspires the children with a sense of wonder and awe for the natural world.
Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Current Weather Maps
Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Weather Words and Symbols
Students forecast both the local and national weather by affixing words and symbols to the U.S. map and seven-day pocket chart.
To determine the temperature and air pressure, the meteorologists check their thermometer and barometer. Wind speed is measured by seeing how fast their anemometer and windsocks move, and the wind chill factor is determined by seeing how fast hand sanitizer evaporates and cools their hands. Using a Doppler radar (a tape recorder), the children use the Doppler effect (the sound of a battery-operated razor moving back and forth) to forecast thunderstorms. They measure the depth and temperature of snowfall with a ruler and a thermometer.
Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Sun Clocks
The meteorologists read the shadows from their sun clock to determine the time, which is then broadcast on TV. Visit the Exploratorium to make a sun clock for your kindergarten weather station center.
Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Thunderstorm Tracking Charts
After it rains in a jar, two students may simulate a thunderstorm while the meteorologists track its distance and intensity. One student rubs a balloon in their hair and holds it up to the antenna on the weather station's state-of-the-art lightning detector (an AM radio), while another student blows into a paper bag, twists it closed, and pops it to make thunder. Since radio waves and lightning travel at the speed of light, while thunder travels at the speed of sound, the meteorologists listen to the lightning crackle and use a stopwatch to track how long it takes to hear the thunder. For every five seconds between the sounds, the storm is one mile away.
Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Tornado Warnings
The newscasters of the kindergarten weather station center use the Emergency Alert System to transmit a bulletin from the National Weather Service issuing a tornado warning. They then show live footage of the tornado by flipping over two attached soda bottles filled with water and debris.
Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Earthquake Special Reports
One student shakes the seismograph to simulate an earthquake while another pulls the paper through to record the earthquake's strength. The newscasters interrupt the regularly scheduled programming to give a special report.
Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Volcano News Flashes
Reporters in the kindergarten weather station center go "on the scene" of a live volcano. After reading the breaking news, they flash it in front of the camera.
Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Tide Charts
The marine meteorologists make tide charts showing the times and heights of high and low tide.
Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Constellation Names
Students make constellations on the bottoms of paper cups and name their creations. They project the constellations on the wall, and the meteorologists report on the night sky by holding up the names of the constellations they see.
Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Moon Observations
My students know that the dark spots on the moon look like Jack and Jill going up the hill, from the nursery rhyme. The meteorologists observe the daytime moon, and depending on whether they see Jack or Jill, they report whether the moon is in the first quarter or the third. You can download the Jack and Jill on the Moon activity guide for your kindergarten weather station center from the Madison Metropolitan School District Planetarium.
Do you incorporate weather into your dramatic play center? If so, what do you do?
Have a fair-weather weekend!
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