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One of the most interesting and important part of learning about weather is the Wind and or Air. Following currents and patterns learning all about the powerful strength and ability can be so fascinating. We actually will spend two weeks on Air, this week we will cover how the wind moves and learning about general wind and wind patterns. Next week we will focus on the dramatic effects wind can create in Tornadoes and Hurricanes.
Day 1: Introduction of wind patterns and names. Did you know the wind has several names by which it is called. I’m not referring to nicknames but actual terms that are used to describe the type of wind by meteorologists. Growing up in Southern California there is a time every year where you hear about the Santa Ana winds. It is a hot, strong, gusty wind that blows from the Orange County direction into the Inland Empire and growing up it made a hot mess of everything. There are several names the winds are given that characterize the type of wind, the direction it is coming from or the type of year it is occurring in. For a fun list of wind names to talk about check out this post .
We read some cute library picture books all about the wind and windy days and had fun re-creating some wind gusts with different fans in the house and coming up with creative names of our own.
Day 2 Co-op: When I explained to the kids that air is very heavy this caught their attention. Because air is all around us you don’t often think of it as being heavy or light, hot or cold. We also discussed the directions of hot and cold air, instruments to test air and tool to take readings on wind.
In order to talk about air we needed to capture some.. we did this by trapping some in a glass and a bowl of water. We took a napkin and placed it in the bottom of the glass and then quickly submerged the glass in the water face down. We pulled it straight back up to investigate a dry napkin. Ta da! We trapped air in the glass! The kids of course each wanted to try to capture their own glass of air and so they did.
To demonstrate weight we took a cup full of water and placed a card on top. the kids one by one quickly flipped the cup and card upside down to show the suction of air and the weight holding the card up on the glass. This activity allowed me to transition into weight and temperature effects in the air.
We tested the room with thermometers both in high places and low places to see where the cold and hot air traveled throughout the room. This was especially fun because our heater vents are on the floor, even though the heat is blown down low the floor was still cooler then the reading on the top of the bookshelf.
Another hot or cold air activity we tried was taking two different colored balloons and freezing one. We blew it up near the start of our class time and stuck it in the freezer for one hour. When the timer went off we pulled it out and then blew up the second one. On the count of three the girls threw them into the air to see which one would land first…. I bet you’ll never guess what happened, the frozen balloon fell like a rock! Facial expressions were the best as they kept trying to get a different outcome which eventually they did as the frozen balloon started warming up to room temperature.
On the topic of balloons, Hot Air balloons were not only used for weather readings but also are a great example of how hot air rises. We watched a short little youtube video of a hot air balloon festival, and then created our own from tissue paper.
If you want to build a real miniature hot air balloon Ranger Ricks Wild About Weather has a great step by step how to. Unfortunately our weather that day way sleeting so trying to fly a tissue paper balloon was not a option but we hope to try it while we are still in this unit so stay tuned.
Day 3: Watching the local weather channel is a great way to reinforce the weather vocabulary, it also allows them see the predicted temperature for the day and what to expect over the next several days. After the forecast I had them dress according to weather for off the mountain (which is generally 20 degrees warmer then where we live) we then went down the mountain for the day to enjoy some outdoor reading in the breeze. You might be able to just spread a blanket in your yard to enjoy the breeze but I definitely would encourage trying to get out and enjoy the weather as much as you can during this unit.