Students observe weather, build an operational weather station, collect and compare data, create an "extreme" weather forecast, and write first-person accounts of a storm. Older students research and write reports about extreme weather.
- Record visual observations
- Draw clouds differently from day to day
- Identify specific types of clouds with a visual aid
- See how clouds are related to weather changes
- KWL Chart printable
- Chart paper
- Observe: A Weather Watch Activity
- Cloud Observation Form printable, one per student
- Dry erase markers
- Blank paper
- Pencils and crayons
- Optional: Whiteboard for demonstrations
Extension Activity Materials
- I Am a Weather Reporter Form (see sample below)
- 12- by 18-inch white construction paper
- One large digital picture of each student standing
- Crayons, markers, and pencils
- Create a KWL chart on a sheet of chart paper by tracing silhouettes of three different weather symbols and then writing K, W, or L on each (e.g., make a rain drop and write K on it, a sun with W, a cloud with L).
- Review the online activity Observe: A Weather Watch Activity so you can help students navigate it easily.
- Make a copy of the Cloud Observation Form printable for each student.
Step 1: Show students the graphic organizer on the chart paper and explain that "K" means what we Know, "W" means what we Want to learn, and "L" means what we've Learned. Begin building background knowledge by asking students what they know about clouds and weather. Record responses in the K section of the graphic organizer. Stimulate responses if necessary by asking questions such as:
- Where does rain come from?
- Why do clouds look different?
- What does a meteorologist do?
Step 2: In the W section of the chart, record what your students want to know about clouds and weather. Display the chart in the room so students can refer to it and add to their lists as the unit continues.
Step 3: Find a place where students can observe the clouds (either through a classroom window or outside). This activity works best on a day that is partly cloudy. Have students watch the different cloud formations for approximately one to two minutes.
Step 4: Discuss with students what they notice about the clouds. At this point it may just be shapes: long clouds, puffy clouds, a cloud that looks like a car, flower, etc. End the day's lesson by telling students each type of cloud they observed has a special name and the next time they observe clouds, they will be looking for four special types.
Step 1: Explain to students that they will observe the clouds again today, but this time they'll record what they see, drawing and describing the clouds on an observation form just like real scientists.
Step 2: Use your chart paper or whiteboard to model what the students will do. Draw a cloud shape. Ask student to give you words or phrases that describe the cloud (round, puffy, flat, thin, etc.). Record their answers to start a word bank. Repeat with a different cloud shape.
Step 3: Again, find a place where students can observe the current cloud conditions.
Step 4: Distribute the Cloud Observation Form printable. Explain to students that as they look at the clouds, they should sketch the shape that they see and write at least one word to describe that cloud. Discuss how clouds may shift shapes as the wind blows them across the sky. They should do their best to draw the shape they see.
Step 5: Allow students to look at the sky for a few minutes before they start drawing and recording their observations. Then they can start filling in Day 1 on their forms.
Step 6: As a group, decide what color the clouds are. Students should indicate the choice on their forms. Next have students count how many clouds they see and record the answer. Finally have students indicate whether it is raining or not.
Step 7: Collect the sheets and keep them until the next observation day.
Step 1: Repeat the cloud observation (Steps 3-7 above) for two more days. Review the directions each day before beginning. During and after observation ask students what changes they see in the clouds from day to day.
Step 2: After the final observation period on Day 4, gather the students together.
Step 3: Show your class the images of the four major cloud types: cumulus, stratus, cirrus, and cumulonimbus found in the Observe: A Weather Watch Activity. As you view each type, discuss the attributes of each as described in the activity.
Step 4: Working independently or in small groups, have students compare their drawings to the cloud images on the screen, and then help them label their drawings with the name they think is most appropriate.
Step 5: As a class, discuss the students' findings. Reproduce the observation form on chart paper or the board. For each day, write the cloud most students thought they had seen. Add one or two descriptive words contributed by the class. Include the cloud's color and number of clouds (average) that students saw each day.
Step 6: Returning to the KWL chart, discuss with students what they have learned about clouds. List their responses in the L section.
Take students further by investigating other areas of the weather around them. After completing the I Am a Weather Watcher lesson with your class, follow the steps below to introduce students to components of weather forecasting such as precipitation, temperature, and wind speed.
Step 1: Create a fill-in-the-blank I Am a Weather Reporter Script. (You may want to alter the sample below to suit your local weather conditions.) Distribute one script to each student.
- Today is a _____ day.
- The sky is _____ .
- The clouds are _____ clouds.
- They look _______.
- It ______ raining right now.
- The current temperature is _____ degrees.
- The wind is ________________ .
Step 2: Explain to students that in addition to knowing about clouds, meteorologists observe other elements of weather. Discuss weather forecasts students have seen on television or heard on the radio. Focus on how the weather people give information on cloud cover, temperature, precipitation and wind conditions.
Step 3: Tell students that they will learn to give a weather report just like the pros. Read through the weather report script you've created. Explain that you will now find the answers to fill in the blanks by observing the weather.
Step 4: Once more, find a place where students can easily observe the current weather. Have students describe what kind of day it is (beautiful, dark, fantastic, etc.). Have them fill in their very first blank with an adjective of their choice.
Step 5: Next, discuss what type of cloud coverage there is. Have students fill in the second blank with an appropriate term such as sunny, partly cloudy, or cloudy. Limit the choices and keep them simple.
Step 6: Have students observe what type of clouds they see on this day. After coming to consensus on one of the four cloud types, have students fill in the third blank. For the next blank, have students choose one word that describes how the clouds look such as puffy or flat.
Step 7: Have students determine whether it is raining or not and then fill in the next blank with either the words "is" or "is not."
Step 8: If you have a thermometer, show it to the class. You can have each student read it or read it to them and have them record the temperature in the sixth blank. If you do not have access to an outdoor thermometer, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website to find the current temperature for your zip code.
Step 9: Finally, have students observe the flag atop the school's flagpole. Ask them to describe how the flag is hanging and help them determine, based on the flag's movement, if the winds are calm, breezy or strong. Complete the final blank with this information.
Sample Text: Completed I Am a Weather Reporter Form
- Today is a beautiful day.
- The sky is partly cloudy.
- The clouds are cumulus clouds.
- They look tall and puffy.
- It is not raining right now.
- The current temperature is 67 degrees.
- The wind is calm.
Step 10: Take a digital picture of each student standing. Cut out the pictures exactly around the child's outline so there is no background. Optional: Have your students wear sunglasses for their pictures, carry an umbrella, or wear a rain hat.
Step 11: Provide each student with one sheet of 12- by 18-inch white construction paper.
Step 12: Have students draw and color a background on the paper that matches the type of weather they're reporting on in their script. Remind students to include the sun, clouds, and appropriate sky color.
Step 13: Give students the cut-out of themselves so they can glue the picture to the scene they've created. Then they can glue their final script below the picture.
Step 14: Display the Weather Reports for all to see.
- Is there anything you could do differently to make this lesson more successful next time?
- Were students able to distinguish between different types of clouds?
- Did students draw the clouds differently from day to day?
- Did students label the clouds correctly?
This Weather Watch activity meets national standards by providing students with opportunities in the following areas.
National Council for Teachers of Mathematics:
- Selects and uses appropriate instruments and technology to measure in real-world situations
- Generalizes a pattern, relation, or function to explain how a change in one quantity results in a change in another
- Analyzes real-world data to recognize relationships using graphic models generated by technology
Reading and Language Arts
International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE):
- Collects data, facts, and ideas
- Uses knowledge from oral, written, and electronic sources
- Compares, synthesizes, interprets, and analyzes information from different sources
- Selects, organizes, and categorizes information using a wide variety of strategies
- Relates new information to prior knowledge and experience
- Uses text features that make information accessible and usable
- Establishes authoritative stance on a subject
- Develops information using facts and details
- Analyzes interprets, and evaluates information, ideas, organization, and language from text
- Listens attentively to others and builds on others' ideas in discussions
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA):
- Plans and implements investigative procedures
- Uses equipment and technology
- Collects data by observing and measuring
- Analyzes and interprets information to construct reasonable explanations from direct and indirect evidence
- Communicates valid conclusions
- Constructs graphic structures of information using tools including computers to organize, examine, and evaluate data
- Analyzes and reviews scientific explanations
- Represents the natural world using models and identifies their limitations
Technology Foundation Standards for Students:
- Use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity
- Use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences
- Use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources
- Use technology tools to process data and report results
- Employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world