So I don't know if I have told you all this, but I LOVE science. It's pretty much my favorite thing ever in the whole big wide world.
It took me until college to feel that way but when I fell in love with science, I fell hard, and I haven't looked back since.
I am always looking for ways to engage my students and countless opportunities to explore and experiment and that's how this whole unit came to be.
I recently read Hope King's Set the Stage to Engage eBook and she had some great ideas for weather units and that was exactly the unit we are starting with in fifth grade.
I put her ideas to work for my classroom decorations. My goal is to decorate my classroom every time we start a new unit to always have my kids excited about what they will learn next.
I decorated the outside of my classroom with a tomato tornado and a sign that said, "Welcome to Chewandswallow- Home of Extreme Weather." The bacon was a hit with kids and adults.
I made a tomato tornado in the classroom too and then I added some spaghetti and meatballs! These were my favorite thing ever.
The last thing I did was decorate each of the tables with a circle shaped food. I had an egg, an orange slice, a donut, a lemon slice, a pizza, and a lime slice. The kids loved having their own food tables of your unit.
We obviously had to start our weather unit by reading Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
We talked about the weather in the town in the book and then we talked about what we already knew about weather.
One of our first things we needed to get going was setting up our weather station so our classroom weather reporter can record our weather each day for the rest of the year. We will track the temperature, precipitation, wind, cloud formations, air pressure, and humidity.
Here is the recording sheet we are using right now and you can grab this freebie by clicking on any of the images.
Some of our measurement tools are pretty primitive, but the kids have had a blast.
The first thing we learned about was temperature and I gave some kids liquid thermometers and some kids regular thermometers and told them to figure out how to measure temperature. This was the best idea ever because we live in a VERY warm part of Colorado and it's always hot this time of year. The day we measured temperature it was probably 90 degrees and the liquid thermometers were all reading about 50 degrees. Some students tried sticking them in the rocks, in the grass, and even on the top of a slide to get a better read.
When we got back inside, we discussed what they thought and they figured out that the normal thermometers worked and when they decided the liquid weren't so reliable. I then let one student do some research on the computer to figure out what happened and she discovered the truth about the liquid thermometers.
After that, the students came up with and recorded how we would record temperature every day when it was their week to do weather reporter.
Next, we learned about wind direction and students made their own wind vanes.
Again, I didn't really give them any direction. I showed them some wind vane designs and some supplies I had available and told them to figure it out.
Here are some pictures from that day:
When we came back inside, we talked about whose worked and whose didn't. Some students had put the vanes on too tight or not on strong enough, so they wouldn't spin or they would just fall off. Some kids talked about knowing which direction was which would have been helpful :).
So of course we downloaded a compass app on my phone, figured out which way was north, and then came up with a classroom procedure for whose wind vane we would use and how we would measure wind direction each day. We also made sure to note which way was North :).
The next thing we did was create a way to measure precipitation and the process was very similar to how we created wind vanes. I told them the supplies I had or that they could use and then told them to figure it out. Here are some pictures of what they came up with.
Many of them had similar designs, but some were more precise with the measurements and their data collection ideas. After we created them, we discussed which design would be the most accurate. The class even noticed that the cups we had were kind of slanted, which may not be the most accurate.
Because of this, we ended up creating a better model with cups that didn't have a curve and put our cup outside to measure the precipitation. We also decided to have measurements to the nearest quarter inch.
The last thing we did was learn about the Beaufort Wind Scale. We just used the handouts and scales to measure wind. You can find lots of different options for this by searching Beaufort Wind Scale on Google. Just choose one that works best for you.
Well thanks for sticking with me on that one…. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball Part II is coming soon :)