Activities and Lesson Plans

Activities and Lesson PlansCover_Weather_Watch

Math

4.1 B: Number, operation, and quantitative reasoning. The student uses place value to represent whole numbers and decimals; (B) use place value to read, write, compare, and order decimals involving tenths and hundredths, including money, using concrete objects and pictorial models.

4.2 A, D: Number, operation, and quantitative reasoning. The student describes and compares fractional parts of whole objects or sets of objects; (A) use concrete objects and pictorial models to generate equivalent fractions; (D) relate decimals to fractions that name tenths and hundredths using concrete objects and pictorial models.

4.7: Patterns, relationships, and algebraic thinking. The student uses organizational structures to analyze and describe patterns and relationships. The student is expected to describe the relationship between two sets of related data such as ordered pairs in a table.

4.9 A, B, C: Geometry and spatial reasoning. The student connects transformations to congruence and symmetry; (A) demonstrate translations, reflections, and rotations using concrete models; (B) use translations, reflections, and rotations to verify that two shapes are congruent; and (C) use reflections to verify that a shape has symmetry.

4.12 A: Measurement. The student applies measurement concepts. The student measures time and temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius); (A) use a thermometer to measure temperature and changes in temperature.

Language Arts

4.2 B: Reading/Vocabulary Development. Students understand new vocabulary and use it when reading and writing; (B) use the context of the sentence (e.g., in-sentence example or definition) to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words or multiple meaning words.

4.23 A, B: Research/Research Plan. Students ask open-ended research questions and develop a plan for answering them; (A) generate research topics from personal interests or by brainstorming with others, narrow to one topic, and formulate open-ended questions about the major research topic; and (B) generate a research plan for gathering relevant information (e.g., surveys, interviews, encyclopedias) about the major research question.

Science

4.2 B, C: Scientific investigation and reasoning. The student uses scientific inquiry methods during laboratory and outdoor investigations; (B) collect and record data by observing and measuring, using the metric system, and using descriptive words and numerals such as labeled drawings, writing, and concept maps; (C) construct simple tables, charts, bar graphs, and maps using tools and current technology to organize, examine, and evaluate data.

4.6 D: Force, motion, and energy. The student knows that energy exists in many forms and can be observed in cycles, patterns, and systems; (D) design an experiment to test the effect of force on an object such as a push or a pull, gravity, friction, or magnetism.

4.8 A: Earth and space. The student knows that there are recognizable patterns in the natural world and among the Sun, Earth, and Moon system; (A) measure and record changes in weather and make predictions using weather maps, weather symbols, and a map key.

Social Studies

4.5 A: History. The student understands important issues, events, and individuals of the 20th century in Texas; (A) identify the impact of various issues and events on life in Texas such as urbanization, increased use of oil and gas, and the growth of aerospace and other technology industries.

4.6 A: Geography. The student uses geographic tools to collect, analyze, and interpret data; (A) apply geographic tools, including grid systems, legends, symbols, scales, and compass roses, to construct and interpret maps.

4.7 B, C: Geography. The student understands the concept of regions.(B) describe a variety of regions in Texas and the Western Hemisphere such as landform, climate, and vegetation regions that result from physical characteristics; and (C) compare the regions of Texas with regions of the United States and other parts of the world.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What causes weather? Where does it get formed?
  2. Name some types of weather we experience in Texas and describe them.
  3. What’s a person called who studies weather? What does “forecast” mean?
  4. How are weather and climate different?
  5. What are some instruments used to measure the weather?
  6. What can you do to prepare for bad weather? How can you be safe?
  7. CHALLENGE QUESTION: Do you think human activity is contributing to changes in weather patterns? Why? Why not?
Log the Weather

At the same time every day for a month write down what’s happening with the weather. Create your very own weather log. First, put the date in a notebook then start by telling about the sky: Is it cloudy, partly cloudy, clear, or overcast (that means it has gray clouds), or...? Describe it. What’s the wind like? What direction is it coming from? Is it cold? Warm? In between? Is there moisture in the air (does it feel wet)? If so, how much? A little? A lot? Record this information everyday at the same time for at least a month and see if you can find a pattern.

Is Your Name on This List?

Hurricanes have different names because sometimes two develop at the same time and meteorologists need to be able to tell people what’s going on. Visit http://www.fema.gov/kids/hunames.htm to read FEMA’s explanation of how hurricanes receive their names. Then, go to http://utmbinfo.com/2010/04/06/2011-hurricane-season-starts/ to see the list of hurricane names for 2011. Do you see your name on the list?

Get Your "Disaster Action Kid" Certificate!

The Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA" for short) offers you this great chance to become a certified Disaster Action Kid. Go here to start on your certificate: http://www.fema.gov/kids/dizkid1.htm.

How Does Air Pressure Affect You?

NASA can help you answer that question. Explore more about air pressure (and learn about your own body at the same time!) at http://kids.earth.nasa.gov/archive/air_pressure/index.html.

Measuring Air Pressure

On the Student Research Page, the children are introduced to the barometer as an instrument used to measure air pressure. Find out what the barometer in your area of Texas should be. Start by contacting your local weatherman. This will be considered “normal” and what you’ll compare actual future barometric readings against.

This page will give you a reading of the current barometric pressure in your part of Texas: http://www.findlocalweather.com/forecast.php?config=&forecast=pass&pass=currentwx&usecountry=us®ion=&useplace=&usestate=tx&plot=pres&dpp=0&usemetric=.

Wind & Weather

Even though most of General Electric’s 18-page booklet called "Wind Energy Activities and Worksheets" is dedicated to celebrating wind as an alternative energy source, we’ve ways to use parts of it to study weather.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to: http://www.gepower.com/businesses/ge_wind_energy/en/downloads/just4kids.pdf to get the booklet.
  2. Do "Make a Wind Serpent" on page 5 while the class watches. This demonstrates the effect temperature has on generating wind.
  3. Then make enough copies of "Help the Power of Nature Get to Your Home" (it’s just a simple little maze) for the whole class. Before the children do this, discuss the role the sun plays in generating heat. Ask the children to compare the sun to the candle used in the activity in "Make a Wind Serpent."
  4. Make enough copies of "Observing the Wind’s Effects Using the Beaufort Scale" on page 18 for the whole class. Discuss the items on the list so that the children have an idea what certain MPH's would look like in action.
  5. Then, have the kids take their lists outside and observe what is moving in the wind and estimate how fast it is moving. Have them add to the list and estimate how fast the addition is moving in MPH.

*** Take note of how many students attempt to connect the amount of sunshine to the amount of wind without you prompting them to do so.

BUT...BEFORE YOU HEAD OUTSIDE...Northers...Special Texas Winds!

Explain to the children that while they’re outside, they’ll also need to decide whether or not the wind is a “norther.” So, before heading out, ask the children share what they learned about northers from the Student Research Page. Also, discuss which direction is north and how the kids might determine if the wind is coming from the north.

Texas Storms: Be a Weathercaster

Create Posters, write weather bulletins or mock broadcasts on these weather warnings.

This month’s topic gives you a great opportunity to prepare your students for bad weather. Review and practice storm-safety tips with your kids so that when and if the real thing comes along they’ll be ready (and hopefully not so scared).

Tornado Storm Safety Tips

Unfortunately, forecasters don’t know exactly where a tornado is forming until about 20 minutes beforehand. That leaves very little time to get out of its path.

If you are caught in the path of a tornado, are in a house, and do not have access to a storm shelter, one of the safest places to be is curled up inside a dry bathtub.

No matter where you are, ALWAYS protect the back of your neck as flying debris thrown around by the storm can do plenty of damage to that fragile part of your body.

As you teach your kids about tornados, have them put their heads down on their desks and cover the backs of their necks with their hands.

Stay as far away from windows as possible to avoid glass, which gets flung by the tornado’s strong winds. Also, while hallways in homes are often some of the safest places to wait out these storms, long corridors in schools often have sets of doorways at each end that create wind tunnel effects, which end up "inviting" the tornado in.

All Texas schools are required to post tornado safety procedures. Make sure you know what yours are and where they are BEFORE you need them.

Tornado Watch vs. Tornado Warning
Tornado Watch ... Conditions are ripe for tornadoes.
Tornado Warning... A tornado has actually been seen in the area by a person and/or by radar.
Hurricane Storm Safety Tips

On the Student Research Page the children learned that hurricanes are fierce enough at times to blow down an entire house. Hopefully this puts these storms into the proper perspective for youngsters!

But, on the other hand kids need to understand that hurricanes only strike within a certain distance of the ocean and that only those living within that range need worry.

Explain what "evacuate" means and how important it is to listen to the wise recommendations of meteorologists when they suggest that families evacuate because a hurricane is on the way. 

Show kids what a real radar looks like by going to the Texas State Radar site at: http://www.corad.org/texas_radar_map.php. This interactive site shows only hurricane activity located close to the shore of Texas.

But the site also shows all the other weather conditions in Texas so it's a great resource even when it’s not hurricane season. [Hurricane season is June through November.]

The Galveston Storm

The deadliest hurricane in Texas history struck Galveston as a category 4 storm on September 8, 1900. Over 6,000 people died (some estimate up to 8,000) in what is referred to as "The Storm of the Century."

If the same storm were to hit today, that number would be significantly smaller. Why? Because of technology. We have warning systems in place now that were not available back then including television, Internet, telephones, and, most importantly, Doppler radar. To whit, when Hurricane Ike struck in 2008 it shared an identical path as the Galveston storm yet not even 100 Texans died. Of course, it also helped that, at a category 2, by the time Ike made landfall it was half as strong as the storm of 1900.

This "Portal to Texas History" has a great 4th grade lesson plan, a slide show, and activities on the Galveston Storm: http://education.texashistory.unt.edu/lessons/psa/Galveston1900/

For photos of "The Storm of the Century" visit: http://www.1900storm.com/photographs/index.lasso.

Thunder & Lightning Storm Safety Tips

It’s ironic how it’s the sound of thunder which frightens people the most since thunder is harmless. Instead, lightning – as pure electricity - presents the true danger! That’s why Paul Yura, the meteorologist interviewed on the Student Research Page, gave kids this advice, "When thunder roars, go indoors!"

Along with that advice he suggests staying away from trees, too. Why? Because trees, and similar structures, make easy targets for lightning and may topple on innocent victims standing nearby.

Tell your children that if they’re swimming and hear thunder, they need to get out of the water as soon as possible. Water acts like a magnet and attracts lightning.

Compare And Contrast: Weather & Climate

CLIMATE describes patterns of weather over a long time.

WEATHER describes what's happening right now or what will happen tomorrow.

Have the children do this on a piece of paper while you do it on the board. The goal is to help them REALLY understand the difference between climate and weather.

  1. Draw a Venn diagram. Have them do the same.
  2. Then tell them, "Today we’re going to compare and contrast climate and weather." Write the title "Climate and Weather: How They Compare and Contrast" above your Venn diagram. Have the children do the same.
  3. In one circle write "Weather." Have them do the same.
  4. Ask the children, "What is weather?" Fill in the circle with appropriate responses. They do the same on their papers.
  5. In the other circle write "Climate." Have the children do the same.
  6. Ask the children, “What do you think climate is?” Fill in the circle with appropriate responses. They do the same on their papers. (This circle may require more discussion as you have not done direct-teach on the topic of “Climate” like you did on “Weather.”)
  7. Recap. “Okay, we’ve discussed how ‘Weather’ and ‘Climate’ CONTRAST.”
  8. Now it’s time to address the spot in the Venn Diagram where the circles overlap. Ask for ways the two compare. Ask, “How are ‘Weather’ and ‘Climate’ alike? How do they COMPARE?” As appropriate responses come, fill in the overlap and ask the kids to do the same on their papers.
  9. Summarize orally and finalize the discussion.
  10. EXTENSION: Ask the children to summarize the discussion and the contents of the Venn Diagram on the backs of their papers in WRITTEN FORM.
EXTENSIONS:
Anemometers Ahead!

Wind is one kind of weather that humans have learned how to use. In fact, we’ve been doing that with windmills since the pioneer days in Texas, especially in the Panhandle Plains region. Today we use wind to supply much of our electricity. However, in order to harness its power, we need to know its speed and direction. That’s what anemometers are for. Visit http://www.fi.edu/weather/todo/dixie.html to learn how to make your very own anemometer.

Front, Dude!

Fronts are zones of transition where two different types of air come together. In North America, where Texas is located, the most common type of front is called a “cold-front occlusion.” A what!!!??? Well, find out! Go here to investigate what a cold-front occlusion is, what makes it, and what the big deal is: http://okfirst.mesonet.org/train/meteorology/Fronts.html.

RECOMMENDED
NOAA WEATHER RADIO:

This Texas map lists every National Weather Service radio station across Texas by county and coverage area: http://www.weather.gov/nwr/Maps/PHP/texas.php

RADAR MAP (TEXAS STATE INTERACTIVE RADAR SITE):

Want to see weather radar that tells what’s happening RIGHT NOW where you live? Go here: http://www.corad.org/texas_radar_map.php.

TEXAS A&M DEPT. OF ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES

Look here for answers to some of your most pressing questions on the topics of weather and climate. You might also find help here with more complex issues. http://atmo.tamu.edu/

EXPERIMENTS:

This site has some excellent choices for science experiments related to weather. http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/science-projects-for-kids-weather-and-seasons.htm

GENERAL “KID-FRIENDLY” WEATHER READING:

“The Weather Dude” (a.k.a. Nick Walker) has fun songs and kid-friendly weather info at: http://www.wxdude.com/basics.html

LAYERS OF THE ATMOSPHERE:

National Earth Science Teachers’ Association offers “Windows to the Universe – Atmosphere” for teachers of science who want to learn more. http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/layers_activity_print.html

STORMS & BAD WEATHER:

This FEMA site is chocked full of games and activities: http://www.fema.gov/kids/games1.htm Why didn’t we put this on the Student Research Page? Well, you’ll note how enticing it is; we figured once your kiddos discovered this link the rest of the Student Research Page just might get overlooked. We thought we’d let you offer this one for dessert!

The National Center for Atmospheric Research’s “Web Weather for Kids” has fantastic explanations of all aspects of weather at: http://eo.ucar.edu/webweather/safety.htmlhttp://eo.ucar.edu/webweather/safety.html


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