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A Whirlwind of Hands-on Weather Lesson Plans

Janelle Cox

Spring has sprung! Here is your opportunity to talk to students about the weather, and discuss the weather changes and patterns. March into this collection of weather lesson plans for primary grades and you will discover a forecast that you can count on.

Wild About Weather

Oftentimes after it rains outside you can see a rainbow. Have students make their own rainbow with this simple hands-on experiment. Tip: You will need sunlight for this experiment.

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Water
  • White paper

Procedure:

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Have students go to the window and hold the glass of water above the white paper. Students will observe how the sunlight passes through water and forms a rainbow on the paper.

In a Fog

For some reason, children are fascinated when they see fog. To reveal how fog actually works, try this fun experiment.

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Clear gallon jug
  • Hot water
  • Hand pump
  • Clay
  • Matches

Procedure:

Pour the hot water into the clear jug, light a match, blow it out and drop it into the bottle. Next, close the bottle with the clay, leaving a small opening for the tube of the pump. Place the tube into the opening and pump about 15-20 times, then remove the pump. The air will instantly turn into fog inside the bottle.

Make it Rain

So how does it rain anyway? This fun and simple experiment will show students just that.

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Plate
  • Hot water
  • Ice cubes
  • Clear jar
  • Index card

Procedure:

Students can work with a partner for this experiment. To begin, have one student pour the water into the jar, then place the plate over the top of the jar. Wait a minute or two, then have the next student place the ice cubes onto the plate. Students will observe that the cold plate causes the moisture in the warm jar to form water droplets. You can then explain that this is what happens in the atmosphere.

Make Lightning

Lightning is fascinating, as much as it can be scary. To ease your young students fears of lightning, as well as teach them how it works, try this hands-on activity.

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Piece of wool fabric
  • Styrofoam plate
  • Pencil with a new eraser
  • Thumbtack
  • Aluminum pie pan

Procedure:

  1. Push the thumbtack through the center of the bottom of the pie pan. Then place the eraser end of the pencil onto the thumbtack.
  2. Place the plate upside-down on a table and rub the underneath of the plate with the wool.
  3. Pick up the pie pan by the pencil and place it on top of the plate that you just rubbed.
  4. Have students observe that when you touch the plate with your finger you will get shocked.
  5. Have students turn off the lights and touch the plate again to see the shock.

Making a Thermometer

This activity will give students the opportunity to create a thermometer.  

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Water bottle
  • Water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clear drinking straw
  • Clay
  • Food coloring

Procedure:

  1. To begin, fill one-quarter of the water bottle with rubbing alcohol and the other one-quarter with water.
  2. Add a three drops of food coloring.
  3. Place the straw into the bottle, making sure it does not touch the bottom.
  4. Seal the neck of the bottle with clay, keeping the straw in place.
  5. Have students hold their hands at the bottom of the bottle and watch the mixture move up the straw.

Tornado in a Bottle

This easy hands-on weather activity will have your students talking for weeks! They will be so amazed they will want to try it at home.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Two 2-liter clear soda pop containers with their labels removed
  • Water
  • Duct tape

Procedure:

  1. Fill one of the 2-liter bottles two-thirds of the way with water. Then tightly duct tape the other neck of the bottle to the first 2-liter bottle.
  2. Next, turn the bottle over so that the one filled with water is on the top.
  3. Swirl the bottle in a circular motion. Students will observe that a tornado will begin to form in the top bottle, while the water will rush down into the bottom bottle.

Tip: For an added touch, you can add a few drops of food coloring or glitter to represent debris.

All of these hands-on activities will help students understand the process of weather. In addition to these activities, try placing a thermometer outside of your classroom. Each morning have students read the temperature, and then again before they go home. This will give you an opportunity to discuss how the temperature changes throughout the school day.

What are you favorite hands-on weather lesson plans and activities? Share with us in the comment section below. We would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators