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5+ FREE Nature Study Weather Activities

5+ FREE Nature Study Weather Activities

Let’s study the weather!  Here are 5 (maybe more)  Free Nature Study Sessions you can do at home (or school) with your “littles” or older kids.

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For this post, Beside the Creek welcomes fellow homeschooler and nature lover, Dianna Hankins!  She is one of the other mom’s that has been doing Nature Study Classes with us on the farm.  She wrote up this wonderful article on our Weather Study.  Please feel free to use any part of it for your own studies!


“Weather tends to be a real part of our day. It is instrumental in allowing some activities and prohibiting others. At times, we praise the Lord for it and, at other times, we take it for granted. It fascinates us and has the potential to terrify as well. It’s part of this life we’re given.”

Here is a glance at what we studied each week.  Continue to scroll down for a more detailed look at each week.

Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.

  • The “Why” behind studying weather. 
  • Week 1 Activities -Temperature, Global Temps, and Thermometers
  •  Week 2 Activities- Air has pressure and weight
  • Week 3 Activities-Weather is caused by changes in air pressure. It’s Water Cycle time.
  • Week 4 –Applying what we’ve learned so far
  • Week 5 –Kinds of Clouds at particular elevations
  • Possible Week 6-Study specific types of precipitation. (we did hail)

 

The “Why”…

In many ways, we focus on the aspects of weather we see and feel, but we leave out the WHY because it’s invisible. It seems hard for kids to understand. Track with me, ‘cause it’s an AWESOME declaration of the glory of God. It’s LOUD! 

Question: What did God make to use as causes of visible and tangible weather? 

Answer: High-pressure and low-pressure air masses and the way they are designed to operate

WHAT?!? 

Elevation is key -remember temperatures drop the higher in the sky you go (hence all the de-icing of air planes before they are reloaded and take off).

Well, high-pressure (think heavy!) air masses sink to the ground (blame gravity) and then spread outward (like spilled milk goes “SPLAT”).

Low-pressure air masses (lighter weight than high-pressure) are warmed up air. They are not necessarily warm, just a warmER mass than other air masses around them. They get pushed around, and they rise.

CYCLE ALERT! 

Since it’s light weight, a low-pressure air mass rises into cooler elevations and cools. Its temperatures drop the higher it goes. Condensation begins and clouds form. 

VOILA! 

If there’s enough moisture, it’s now raining (or some other kind of precipitating) and a high-pressure air mass can form! The air can get heavier and colder at this elevation. If it does, a higher number of air molecules occupy the space (like a bunch of kids who all move toward the middle of a trampoline). Gravity will pull it toward the earth because it’s weighty.

An awesome website for succinct explanations, great vocabulary, and excellent visual helps (as well as capitalization-and-punctuation-rule-following better than I exhibit here): https://scied.ucar.edu/shortcontent/weather

Super helpful links I used for putting together the pieces of this proverbial weather ‘puzzle’ are in a large blue box on the right-hand side of the website just mentioned. The more I learned, the more excited I got, and it turned out to be contagious! YESSSSS!

WOW. Love weather. Why? GOD’s thumbprint is unmistakable and massively grand. 


Week 1 Activities -Temperature, Global Temps, and Thermometers

Verse Time with Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.

Feel the Difference: (Prep-NO looking directly at the sun) Lift your face, eyes closed, up toward the sun. What do you notice? Then hide in the shade. What differences do you feel? 

Rainy Day alternate -Use a flashlight. Eyes closed, shine the flashlight directly at your closed eyes and see how it makes you squint. Then shine it past your face, not directly at your eyes. Which is brighter?

Nature Notebook– Include some, all, or whatever suits your experience that day:

(Nature Study, by definition, is a little unpredictable. Just roll with it😊)

  • Date
  • On a picture of the globe, color a sun shining directly at the equator. Color the equator area red. Color the poles blue since they get indirect sunlight and so are colder. (Teacher discuss that in weather applications, red often means warm or warmer and blue often means cool or cooler.)

  • Something your child or children volunteer that they learned today. Help them make a complete sentence (verbal/written/both)

Keep a nature notebook uncomplicated, and it’s amazing what they will learn. Discussion here can go so deep and relate to other subjects even or just be finished, ready to move on depending on what your homeschool needs.

Finishing Activity -let children use thermometers however long interest holds. We use the words thermometer and temperature super frequently during this and even the “littles” picked it up!

This photo was taken by another one of the mom’s in our nature study class: Josie Mathews. Love it!

Week 2 Activities- Air has pressure and weight

Verse Time with Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.

Balloon Activity: Blow up a balloon and hold the end closed without tieing it. Let air flow out little by little making observations as you do. Act surprised even. WHY DOESN’T AIR FLOW IN? WHY IS IT ESCAPING? (Answer: air is stuffed into the balloon, so it is PRESSED in there -PRESSure! There is lots more pressure in the balloon than outside of it, so air is going to MOVE if you relax your fingers.) Lead them in making observations with questions throughout the activities. They surprise us with their thoughts!

Picture this in your mind activity or you can do this one too –Blow up a balloon and tie it shut. What happens? (Answer: It sinks.) Why? (Answer: Air has weight. Gravity pulls it down. Note: There’s more air PRESSed into the balloon than is outside the balloon, so this balloon is weightier than the air outside the balloon. It won’t float.)

Pretend to be Air Activity: (Would be really cool on a trampoline)

We are pretending we are WARMED UP AIR, so START with the group spread out. -Not much pressure = Low-Pressure.

UH OH! It’s getting COLDER! (Group huddles together in center of room or trampoline and are heavier now because the everyone is together in the center). Lots of Pressure = High-Pressure 

Nature Notebook– Include some, all, or whatever suits your experience that day:

  • Date
  • Draw a diagram of high-pressure air sinking (Blue arrows down toward the ground with Blue ‘H’) 
  • Draw a diagram of ow-pressure air rising (Red arrows drawn rising toward the sky with Red ‘L’ and check out for more clarity https://scied.ucar.edu/shortcontent/highs-and-lows-air-pressure )
  • Something your child or children volunteer that they learned today. Help them make a complete sentence (verbal/written/both).

Finishing Activities: Show a picture of an old-timey barometer (apparently, they are all digital these days). Barometers measure air pressure and will often have words on them like “Rainy,” so kids can start equating that air pressure has a direct effect on the weather they feel.

Balloons! Let them play with making small pressurized areas (Translation: Let them blow up balloons and then let the balloons go 😊)


Week 3 Activities-Weather is caused by changes in air pressure. It’s Water Cycle time.

Verse Time with Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.

OK! We made it! Week 3! Time to review with your learners the key points…

  • Look at your notebook’s Globe pic from week 1: Temperatures are different on earth depending on the way the sun’s rays hit areas of the earth. 
  • Weight: Warm air spreads out (less dense) like a bunch of kids on around the edges of a trampoline, but cold air (more dense) flows together like a bunch of kids congregating in the middle of a trampoline.
  • For weather studies, red means warm or warmer and blue means cool or cooler.
  • Balloon: Why does air flow out of a blown-up balloon instead of flowing into it?

Water Cycle time? Almost. What if an area has a high-pressure air mass?

Most of the time when this is the case, the skies are blue and you can hardly find a cloud. Why? High pressure air flows down to ground and fans out near the ground, like when you squash something with your foot. Air isn’t rising in that area for the condensation of the Water Cycle to happen.

(This may be a good time to drop an egg from a height and let it ‘fan out.’ Gravity pulls the egg down and a high-pressure air mass too.)

But when air pressure is low, it flows upward cooling as temperatures drop with elevation. Water Cycle time!

Draw and explain the Water Cycle, labeling the stages: Rising, Gathering (Condensation), Falling (Precipitation), Gathering (Puddles, lakes, oceans, etc.)

Nature Notebook– Include some, all, or whatever suits your experience that day:


Week 4 –Applying what we’ve learned so far

Verse Time with Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.

Look at the sky for a while noticing anything and everything about weather. Use the ideas from the past three weeks to notice what stage of the water cycle your area may be in the middle of. If it’s a sunny day with not a cloud in the sky, you may be in the middle of a high-pressure mass of air! Enjoy whatever weather you’re given that day noticing the mighty hand of God in it. He says His praise is to continually be on our lips.

Nature Notebook– Include some, all, or whatever suits your experience that day:

  • Date
  • Draw the sky you see.
  • Label your diagram and/or write a caption in a complete sentence (verbal/written/both)

Finishing Activity: Playing outside in the weather


Week 5 –Kinds of Clouds at particular elevations

Verse Time with Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.

We had a big interest in types of clouds. Your group may want to dive into something else by Week 5, like Lightning, Cold Fronts and Warm Fronts, global winds like the Westerlies, Easterlies, and Trade winds, etc. By week 4, they are coming up with ideas and questions and I encourage you to Run. With. It. If you’d like to learn about kinds of clouds though…Yay! Here you go!

Discussion starter: What does fog feel like? (Answer: Wet, misty) Why? (It’s a cloud and clouds are made of water vapor/moisture) How do you know what it feels like? (Answer: I felt it.) How? YOU MEAN CLOUDS CAN BE ON THE GROUND?!? YES.

How about thunderstorm clouds are they on the ground? (Answer: No. Oh good. Shew!) Where are they? Why?

Take a look at the sky, where are the clouds today?

READ A CLOUD CHART -There is a great Clouds Chart worksheet for free (as of April 24, 2018) at Eduation.com! 

Here’s the link: https://www.education.com/worksheet/article/types-of-clouds-1/

Click on View Answer Sheet and print enough Answer Sheets for everyone to tape one into their notebook. Practice reading the chart with question and answer and see what questions your learners come up with for you! 

Nature Notebook– Include some, all, or whatever suits your experience that day:

  • Date
  • Tape in the Answer Sheet to the Cloud Chart Worksheet
  • Something your child or children volunteer that they learned today. Help them make a complete sentence (verbal/written/both).

Finishing Activity: Playing outside in the weather.


Ours wanted to know more about hail after studying the chart! So guess what we did for Week 6!

For your Week 6, it might be something else, but no worries. There are lots of helpful books at the library. I’ve gone to the counter, told our librarian the situation and somehow left with a Box. Of. Books. that we’ve used as our Finishing Activity – looking through the books! Feel free to do the same! And of course, a good ol’ search engine online is handy for ideas too!

The best part of a Nature Study seems to come long after the fact, when we are in the middle of some storm or other weather, and the kids say something loaded with Nature Study memories and meaning.

 Ah. Yes. They’ve learned more than I realized. Again.


For more ideas or encouragement on how to live with what’s given, check out

How Your Family Can Encourage Someone with a Joy Box

Livin’ with What’s Given: Dirt!

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