Always changing and never predictable, weather makes a fascinating study for inquisitive young minds. Conduct a three-part study of the microclimate of your backyard complete with charts on temperature, rainfall, and observed weather. Not only will your little meteorologist learn a lot about local temperature trends and rainfall frequency, he'll also get some good practice in data collection and graphing.
What You Do:
- Ask your child to draw a large graph on each sheet of poster board. He'll use one graph to track temperature, one to track rainfall, and one to record the weather (sunny, partly cloudy, etc.). Have him title each graph accordingly. Example titles: "June Rainfall", "June Temperatures", and "June Weather".
- Before starting the study, help him figure out what kind of graph would best fit each chart. Ask him to think about the kind of data he'll be collecting for each chart and how he'll report that data. If he has trouble choosing, suggest a bar graph for the rainfall chart, a line graph for the temperature chart, and a simple table for the weather chart.
- Prepare the rain collection cup. Help him clearly label the clear plastic cup with half inch dashes to make it easier to measure the rain each day.
- Now conduct the study. Place the thermometer in the yard or directly outside the house where it will get accurate readings. At the same time each day for one month, have your child read the temperature on the thermometer and record it on his graph.
- For the rainfall study, ask him to set the plastic cup in an open space away from any awnings or overhangs. Each day it rains, ask him to check his rain collection cup and record how many inches of rain fell that day on the rainfall chart.
- For the weather study, encourage him to observe the weather each morning and draw what he sees (sunny, partly cloudy, cloudy, rainy, windy, etc.).
- At the end of the month, look over his completed weather charts and talk about how the weather varied over the course of the month and how he thinks the weather this month compares to weather in other months.
The study doesn't have to end here! Make weather charts for subsequent months for a more in-depth study of local weather patterns.
Erica Loop has an MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.