With temperatures changing and different types of precipitation falling, the winter months can be an exciting time to explore weather with your students. Learning about weather is an important part of children's science education, and the winter months provide plenty of opportunities to discuss a variety of weather terms and concepts. Here are a few ways you can explore weather with your students during the winter months:
- Teach young children how to dress for winter. If you have young children in your care, start by teaching them early weather concepts (e.g., cold, warm, temperature, types of precipitation, etc.) and how they should dress for different seasons. Explain why they need to wear a coat, scarf, and gloves during winter instead of the clothes they wear during spring and summer. If you live in a location that is warm throughout the year, explain that children in other parts of the country/world have to dress differently for winter.
- Discuss the changes in temperature that occur. Explain that many places experience a drop in temperature during the winter months. Share the average high and low temperature of several cities across the United States to show children that a range of temperatures occur in winter and throughout the year.
- Explain how different types of precipitation form. How do freezing rain, sleet, snow, hail, rain, and drizzle form in the atmosphere? What impact does precipitation have on the earth? NC State University's Climate Education Modules for K-12 can help you answer these questions with their discussion of precipitation types and how precipitation affects agriculture.
- Talk about winter weather terms and what they mean. Children may hear winter weather terms on the TV or on the radio, but they may not know what they mean. The difference between a winter storm warning, winter storm watch, and winter weather advisory can be confusing even for adults. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has great definitions of winter weather terms commonly used in forecasts. Make sure you share these with students. You could also send a winter weather reminder sheet home with children to help their families be prepared for any winter weather that may occur.
- Ask students to research your location's typical winter and compare it to another. Researching a location's climate and the typical winter experienced there is a great research project for students. Have them research the average high and low temperature, record high and low temperature, biggest snowfall, etc. for at least two different locations.
- Have students keep a winter weather journal. Asking children to keep track of each day's high and low temperature, precipitation, etc. and to make their own observations about the weather in a journal is a great way to help children learn about winter weather.
Be sure to browse the Weather and Climate category of our Science section for a variety of materials you can use to teach children about various weather concepts. "Educating Children About Weather and Climate" is also a helpful resource for educators.