I choose to tackle our weather unit during August and September since our weather tends to go through it’s most radical changes during these months. Throughout this unit study the kids used the fantastic weather lapbook found over at CurrClick by In The Hands of a Child. I found this lapbook had so many comprehensive elements that both Beck (3rd grade) and Elizabeth (1st grade) walked away with new knowledge centered around weather. Here is just some of what they completed in the lapbook throughout this unit:
I wanted to add an extra element/project in for Beck to show the knowledge he had gained about the water cycle. After doing some reasearch I came across this fantastic project at The Inspired Classroom! This project balanced just enough visual and descriptive elements for me to make sure that Beck was walking away with a clear knowledge of the water cycle.
Our cloud family display for our weather unit. The kids and I were inspired by The Inspired Apple
for this idea.
As part of the life science lessons on the weather, we had the opportunity to learn about precipitation by doing two hands on science experiments.
The first experiment was designed to illustrate that water evaporates into the air and then falls to the ground again as rain. The materials you will need for this experiment are as follows:
- Large clear bowl
- Small bowl to place inside the large bowl
- Small rock
- Clear saran wrap
To perform this experiment you place the small bowl in the large bowl. Then you put water in the large bowl, but not in the small bowl and the level must be below the small bowl so that the water does not fill the small bowl too. Next, you tightly cover the large bowl with saran wrap. Lastly, you place the small rock on top of the saran wrap as close to the center of the saran wrap as possible making sure that the rock is over the small bowl. Finally, you place the entire experiment outside in the sun on a hot day. The experiment should look something like this:
You can check it after a few hours or the next day. You should notice that water vapor will start to form on the saran wrap and if you witness water in the small bowl it means that it has rained inside the experiment. The kids will see that as the water heats up it will evaporate, but since there is saran wrap on the bowl, the water vapor will collect on the inside edge of the saran wrap. The pressure of the rock sitting on the saran wrap will cause the water vapor to collect at the rock and form water drops that will get larger and ‘fall’ into the small bowl as rain. How fun, right?
The second experiment that we performed to illustrate precipitation was a little different. Here is what we used for the second experiment:
- Tall, large clean glass
- Foaming shaving cream
- Blue food coloring
To perform this experiment you will have to fill glass half full with cold water. Then fill about another quarter on top of that with the foam shaving cream like this:
Once this is done, drop a few drops of the blue food coloring into the shaving cream at the same point like this:
I used about 6 drops, all dropped at the same point. The food coloring will travel through the shaving cream like precipitation does through clouds. Just like water drops in a cloud, the food coloring will pool into strands and drops as it moves through the shaving cream like this:
If you wait a little while should will see ‘rain’ form in the glass of water like this:
This was a fun way for the kids to see how the rain (food coloring) traveled through the shaving cream and into the water in the glass just like water vapor collects into water drops and falls to the bottom of clouds and then falls as rain to the ground. If you try this experiment, why not share how it worked for you?
Earth science weather and climate
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