Though I know that winter in the five counties of ESD 113 primarily comprises rain…rain…and more rain, this year we’ve had more than our share of snow. But that snow usually doesn’t last nearly as long as the endless puddles. When we’re working with young children we want to do activities that have some familiarity and relevance to them. Here, in our northwest, that’s rain. Here are a few fun activities to help children learn about and have fun with rain…and one to help them remember the snow!
Make a snowstorm in a jar
- baby food jars and lids (empty and clean)
- metallic glitter or confetti
- plastic “snow” (available at craft stores)
- small items (shells, rocks, pine cones, toys)
- waterproof glue (hot glue or florist clay)
Ask the children what they think they might like to do or have done in the snow. If it doesn’t snow where you live, ask them to imagine what they would do if it did or talk about times they may have taken a drive to the mountains where there is snow. …anything that will help them engage.
Making “snowstorms in a jar” with your children is a fun activity no matter where you live. (As always, be sure to supervise the use of glass.)
- Glue: Help each child glue a small item on the inside lid of a baby food jar.
- Fill: Add some plastic snow and glitter to the jar, and then fill it with water.
- Seal: Put glue around the dry inside edge of the lid and screw it on tight. Finally, glue a felt circle on the lid, and turn the jar upside down.
- Shake: When children shake the jars, their snowstorms will come to life and they can remember the fun they had (or imagined!) in the snow.
WHAT’S IT LIKE OUTSIDE?
Earth Science, Health
There are changes in the weather. There are things we can observe that help us determine what the weather may be like even if we can’t go outside. These observations can help us determine the most appropriate clothing to wear for the weather. We can also use a similar technique in other areas where we might want children to look for clues.
Books or magazines with pictures of places outdoors, photographs or drawings of children wearing different seasonal clothing
Find pictures of places outdoors in a book or magazine. Ask the children to look for clues that would tell them what the weather is like in the picture. For example, what are the people wearing? Do you see any umbrellas? Is it sunny? Does the ground look wet? What do you think the temperature is? What kind of plants to do you see? Do you see any puddles? Or any sprinklers?
What other things do you see that could give you hints about the weather?
With all of these clues, ask them what they think the weather is like in the pictures. Talk about why it may be necessary to look for more than one clue about the weather is like. It may be a very cold winter day but the sun is shining brightly. If the sunshine were the only clue, they might guess that it was warm outside. But, if they looked for other pieces of information, and saw that there was ice on the puddles and no leaves on any of the trees, they might realize that it is more likely to be cold.
As you determine what the weather is like in each picture, discuss how the weather influences the types of clothes the children would need to wear outside.
Have the children make drawings of themselves wearing the most appropriate clothing for that weather.
If you are not already talking with the children each day about the weather…or even if you are…these questions can be made part of your routine to help children look at the complexities of the daily weather beyond ‘It’s raining’ or ‘It’s sunny.’
This concept of ‘clue finding’ about the weather can transfer over into other activities…like story time…what clues do the pictures give about the story?
RAIN DROP FUN
Use food coloring to make ice cubes in primary colors (red, yellow, and blue). Then let the children combine the ice cubes in clear glasses and see if they can predict what color will be in the glass when the ice melts.
Is All Water Alike?
The next time it rains, have the children set a container outdoors to catch rainwater. After you have collected a good amount of rainwater, bring the container indoors. Fill a second container with tap water. Then do two experiments:
- Give the children two handkerchiefs or scraps of cloth. Have one dipped in the rainwater and the other dipped in the tap water. Allow them to dry. Compare how they feel and talk about any differences.
- Stir a capful of dish soap in each container. Compare how the two make suds.
Do raindrops come in different sizes? Have the children try collecting a few to find out
You will need:
- a box lid or tray
- flour sifter
- Put flour in the lid or tray.
- Use a ruler to level off the flour.
- Hold the lid outdoors on a rainy day to collect some drops in the flour.
- Let the drop dry.
- Carefully pour the flour through the sifter.
- Look at the sizes of the raindrop pellets.
Make a Rain Gauge
- a plastic jar with straight, rather than curved, sides
- a ruler
- clear, sticky tape
- Tape the ruler to the outside of the jar with the one-inch mark at the bottom of the jar. Be sure to position the edge of the ruler even with the bottom of the inside of the jar.
- Put your rain gauge outdoors on a flat surface.
- After a rainfall, check your gauge to see how much rain fell. Compare your measurement with the amount reported on the news.
Even your youngest family members can be weather forecasters for the day. First, make a mini weather station by following these directions.
You will need:
- quart-size milk or juice carton, cleaned
- brass fastener
- construction paper
- drinking straws
- Rinse out the carton and let it dry.
- Cut a door in one side of the carton.
- Attach a brass fastener for a doorknob.
- Cover the carton with construction paper, adding details to make it look like a weather station.
- Create symbols that represent different kinds of weather: sun, cloud, wind, raindrop, snowflake. Cut out a shape for each and tape to a straw.
- Poke a hole in the top of the weather station, large enough for the straw to fit through. Store the weather symbols inside the station.
- Place the station in a special place in the classroom. Listen to the weather forecast (you can easily record them each day with your phone.) Have the children look outside for clues to affirm what the forecast is saying. Is it correct for what they are seeing? Have a child choose the appropriate symbol to stick in the top of the station.
This article was contributed by Mary Perkins for the Early Childhood Express newsletter. Subscribe to Early Childhood Express for monthly articles, tips, and professional development opportunities delivered to your inbox.