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Spring Forward: Teaching about Weather


A baby crawling in the grass.
A baby crawling in the grass.

The days are getting longer and I can hear more birds chirping outside each morning! Little do the birds know that we probably have at least one more big snow coming. Or do they know? These are things I talk about with my daughter when we notice the weather changing. 


Teaching young children about weather can be a bit of an abstract topic. This is a topic where you want to avoid making it too much of a lecture or something that children are required to sit and pay attention to because chances are they will begin to wiggle and lose interest rather quickly. Talking about the weather can blend really well with daily calendar time, however,  I personally refrain from doing daily calendar time because of the abstraction of it and lack of interest in the youngest children. (I do think there are more developmentally appropriate ways to do calendar time, but I’ll save that for another blog post) With spring on the way, I want to talk more about how to teach young children about weather and seasons while keeping them engaged and invested in their learning. 


If you are trying to teach young children the days of the week or months of the year, you might do so by singing songs, counting, and pointing at a colorful calendar on the wall. This can be fun! Chances are, young children will definitely learn to count, memorize the days-of-the-week song and go home singing it, but do they really understand what the difference between Monday and Tuesday is? Or the fact that it’s March 1st? Days of the week and months of the year are not ideas that children can touch, explore, and engage with. It’s a skill they need to learn, of course, but I’d rather them learn about the calendar by talking about the season we are in, and the weather changing and what that brings because it is so concrete; something they can see, touch, and explore on their own! 


So, what is the best way to teach young children about the weather? By going outside, of course! I believe in going outside every single day unless it’s actually dangerous for children to be out. I know that with babies and young toddlers, this can feel much more difficult, or if you’re someone working in a child care without other staff or home by yourself with a handful of babies and young children. With my own children, I strive for even a quick walk around the block at least once a day because the truth is that it’s really great for me, too. I have a big wagon that I will throw my kids in and then put pillows, blankets, toys, and even snacks in just so I can squeeze in a daily walk for us. I believe that breathing that fresh air for even a few minutes a day is so crucial! 


Our daily outside time, even if brief, allows us for a daily conversation or check in about the weather and what it’s like outside. I like to get children thinking and talking about the weather with open ended questions that encourage reflection and perhaps more questions. This is a wonderful way to meet science standards and teach children about science vocabulary, too!


  • Did you notice when you woke up today that there was more daylight in your bedroom?

  • How does it feel outside today? 

  • What kind of clothing will we need in order to go outside? 

  • Do you feel like you made the right choice with the clothing you wore? Does your body feel too hot, too cold, or just right? 

  • What does the sky look like? 

  • What do the clouds look like today? Do they look the same or different as yesterday when we were outside? 

  • Do you see any birds or animals?

  • Close your eyes. Do you hear any birds or other animals? 

  • We didn’t see any birds or animals today, where do you think they are? 

  • Why do you think we didn’t see any animals today? 

  • Do you see the sun today? Why not? Where could it be? 

  • Is the ground wet or dry? 

  • Is the wind blowing? How do you know? 

  • Does today feel more like a winter day or a spring day? 


These are a few questions to get you started. Conversations about the weather can lead you and the kids in many different directions. You can keep a log of the other questions that children ask and encourage them to try and figure out the answers for themselves. You can revisit questions and ideas each day at your circle time. You might also start a daily weather journal or chart that you and the children fill out each day after outside time. Another thing I like to do is let children go and feel the weather if you’re able to step outside quickly and briefly. This is a good opportunity to let them get up and get some wiggles out during circle time, too. I like to try and let kids be in charge of the clothing they wear based on what they think it feels like outside, but I will always bring a coat, hat, gloves, etc., even if they are adamant they don’t need it! 


Finally, I believe in letting children really get their hands dirty when learning about the weather and nature! I mean this quite literally! Children need to be outside, on the ground, and getting a little bit dirty in order to begin to understand and learn about their environment. What’s the best way to learn about rain? By jumping in puddles and collecting worms, of course! What a beautiful opportunity for a science lesson when children get to go outside and experience a rainy day and play with a living thing like a worm. 


I know it’s hard, especially in the winter, to get children dressed and outside, but I promise it’s so worth it. Watch how behaviors change and you begin to get a little more clear headed, too. At least that’s what happens with myself and my own kiddos. Brainstorm ways to make getting outside easier and put your ideas to the test. Can you put all the kids' items right at the door in a basket and bring it all outside with you? Can you tempt them with a marker and clipboard to go outside and record the weather? Can you pack a blanket and a thermos of tea or cocoa to enjoy during your outside time? If you absolutely cannot get children outside during the day, crack a window and encourage them to take a few deep breaths of fresh air to help them reset and refocus or let them stand just outside the door in their bare feet and let the cold tickle their toes for just a brief moment. I know it sounds crazy, but for young children, experiencing the weather is the best way to teach about it!





 

Meghan is a born and raised Montanan, mama to a new baby boy, a busy preschooler, and a bonus mom to two amazing teenagers. She holds both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. Meghan is currently working part time with Raise Montana as a project specialist where she writes blogs, curriculum guides, and hosts the seasonal book clubs. Meghan is passionate about using her experience as an early childhood educator and as a mom to bring knowledge and inspiration to Montana child care providers.


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