A weather observation chart can be a fantastic motivational and educational project for young children. It can also act as a springboard for the introduction of many other topics for exploration and learning all tied in with the common theme of the environment and the world around them. And, best of all, it’s a fun thing to make and use!
A basic weather chart is very simple to make, and can be a fulfilling crafting project for a wet afternoon or an ‘I’m bored!’ moment! By its very nature, it will encourage good observational skills and data recording in even the youngest children, and used in conjunction with a calendar, or reward chart, will also serve as a lasting keepsake that can be looked back on with pleasure in the years to come.
For very young children, i.e., pre-schoolers, a simple circular chart with a spinning arrow and a selection of weather symbols will suffice. Using a large paper plate or a cut-out shape from sturdy cardboard, place symbols (sun, clouds, rain clouds, snow, wind, snowflakes etc) around the outside of the circle. Make an arrow shape half the width of the overall circle, and fix to the centre with a paper fastener, allowing for easy movement around the whole chart.
Slightly older children may enjoy a more complex chart that they can have more input on – perhaps a laminated sheet with space for them to record temperatures (outdoor and in), wind speeds, and other observations, e.g. what effect the changes in the weather has had on the garden or the wildlife (are flowers starting to bud or die off? Have the leaves changed colour? Are birds starting to build nests?)
Don’t just limit your weather chart to traditional weather symbols – things like umbrellas, Wellington boots, spring animals, daffodils and falling leaves will add a visual stimulation that will encourage children to think of the other environmental aspects of the weather and the changes throughout the seasons!
Other Activities Based Around Your Chart
Tying in other activities to the weather conditions will give children lots of ideas for games, crafts and other projects based around their chart. Whatever the season, the weather chart could inspire a whole day’s play! Even in wintertime, buckets and spades can be put to good use in the garden when the winter sun is shining, and a windy day is just crying out for either kite making or flying! On the hottest summer days, sun catchers and reflectors can be made from scraps of tissue paper, coloured cellophane, twigs, leaves and other garden ‘finds’ to reflect the information recorded on the chart!
Older Children and Computerised Charts
Older kids may like to record their meteorological findings on computer, and produce spreadsheets and databases on which they can make weekly and monthly comparisons. A simple chart could easily be made using the ‘table’ facility in a word processing programme, or a straightforward grid on a spreadsheet. Graphics and images could further bring the chart to life and you could encourage your older children to take their own digital photos to add to their chart, and perhaps tie in a journal to record their more general observations of the current weather conditions.
The Met Office provides comprehensive environmental and weather-related information for all age groups, from primary through to higher education.