13 Fun, Hands-On Ways to Study Weather

Spring is one of the best times to study weather! Depending on where you live, the weather can change drastically from day to day as we transition from winter into spring. And by this time of year—post–spring break, post–standardized testing—kids […]

Spring is one of the best times to study weather! Depending on where you live, the weather can change drastically from day to day as we transition from winter into spring. And by this time of year—post–spring break, post–standardized testing—kids are ready for some hands-on action! Here are 13 interesting, fun activities that will help keep your students engaged and learning.

Before you begin, it’s a good idea to prepare weather journals for your kids to observe the weather daily. In addition to using their own observation skills, having a reliable source to check the weather every day will help your students understand what variables go into a weather report and how to measure them. Our favorite source is a free app called WeatherBug by Earth Networks. You can download the app for your iPhone or Android. In addition, WeatherBug Achieve provides interactive lesson plans and integrates with weather data from over 10,000 schools for live and visual learning enrichment.

weather journal

Source: TLC Lessons

1. Make a weather journal.

What you need: Construction paper, scissors, glue, preprinted labels, crayons, recording pages

What to do: Fold a large piece of construction paper in half to make a book cover. Staple a stack of recording pages (see samples) into the middle. Use scissors to cut out clouds, the sun and raindrops, and glue onto cover. Draw in snow and fog. Glue labels as illustrated onto cover.

weather clouds

Source: The Happy Housewife

2. Make it rain.

What you need: Clear plastic cup or glass jar, shaving cream, food coloring

What to do: Fill the cup with water. Squirt shaving cream on top for the clouds. Explain that when clouds get really heavy with water, it rains! Then put blue food coloring on top of the cloud, and watch it rain.

weather fog

Source: NOAA

3. Make fog.

What you need: Glass jar, small strainer, water, ice cubes

What to do: Fill up the jar completely with hot water for about a minute. Pour out almost all the water, leaving about 1 inch in the jar. Put the strainer over the top of the jar. Place a few (3 or 4) ice cubes in the strainer. As the cold air from the ice cubes collides with the warm, moist air in the bottle, the water will condense and fog will form.

weather rainbow

Source: Nerdy With Children

4. Make a rainbow.

What you need: Glass of water, sheet of white paper, sunlight

What to do: Fill the glass all the way to the top with water. Put the glass of water on a table so that it is half on the table and half off of the table (make sure that the glass doesn’t fall!) Then, make sure that the sun can shine through the glass of water.

Next, place the white sheet of paper on the floor. Adjust the piece of white paper and the glass of water until a rainbow forms on the paper. This will happen because light is made up of many colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. When light passes through the water, it is broken up into all of the colors seen in a rainbow.

weather lightning

Source: All Science Fair Projects

5. Make lightning.

What you need: Aluminum pie tin, wool sock, Styrofoam block, pencil with eraser, thumbtack

What to do: Push the thumbtack through the center of the pie tin from the bottom. Push the eraser end of the pencil onto the thumbtack. Put the Styrofoam block on a table. Quickly rub the block with the wool sock for a couple of minutes. Pick up the aluminum pie pan using the pencil as a handle and place it on top of the Styrofoam block that you were just rubbing with the sock. Touch the aluminum pie pan with your finger—you should feel a shock! If you don’t feel anything, try rubbing the Styrofoam block again. Once you feel the shock, try turning the lights out before you touch the pan again. You should see a spark!

This happens because of static electricity. Lightning happens when the negative charges, which are called electrons, in the bottom of the cloud (or in this experiment your finger) are attracted to the positive charges, which are called protons, in the ground (or in this experiment the aluminum pie pan). The resulting spark is like a mini lightning bolt.

weather tornado

Source: Discovery Express

6. Make a tornado.

What you need: Two 2-liter clear plastic bottles (empty and clean), water, food coloring, glitter, duct tape

What you do: Fill one of the bottles two-thirds full of water. Add food coloring and a dash of glitter. Use duct tape to fasten the two containers together. Make sure to tape tightly so that no water will leak out when you turn the bottles over. Flip the bottles so that the bottle with the water is on top. Swirl the bottle in a circular motion. This will create a vortex and a tornado will form in the top bottle as the water rushes into the bottom bottle.

weather snowflake

Source: A Girl and a Boy

7. Make a snowflake.

What you need: String, wide-mouth jar, white pipe cleaners, food coloring, boiling water, borax, a pencil

What to do: Cut a white pipe cleaner into thirds. Twist the three sections together in the center so that you now have a shape that looks something like a 6-sided star. Make sure the points of the star are even by trimming them to the same length. Attach a piece of string to the top of the star. Tie the opposite end to the pencil. Carefully fill the jar with boiling water (adult job). For each cup of water, add 3 tablespoons of borax, adding 1 tablespoon at a time. Stir until the mixture is dissolved, but don’t worry if some of the borax settles at the base of the jar. Add food coloring.
Dangle the pipe cleaner snowflake into the jar by resting the pencil across the mouth of the jar. Leave the snowflake overnight, and when you return in the morning, you will find the snowflake covered in crystals!

weather windsock
Source: Kids Craft Room

8. Make a windsock.
What you need: Milk jug, scissors, duct tape, ribbons, stapler
What to do: Cut the bottom off of a clean 1-gallon milk jug. Wrap the cut edge of the milk bottle with duct tape. (It might be sharp.) Use a stapler to attach ribbons around cut edge of jug.

weather pinwheel
Source: Baby Sign Language

9. Make a pinwheel wind catcher.

What you need: 8-inch square of paper, scissors, pushpin or tack, pencil with eraser

What to do: Follow the diagram above!

weather raincatcher

Source: Faithful to Nature

10. Make a rain gauge (used for measuring rain volume).

What you need: One 2-liter bottle, Sharpie, oil, scissors, ruler

What to do: Cut the top third off of a 2-liter plastic bottle. Discard the cap. Pour oil into the bottom of the bottle until you have a level surface. (This will keep the collected water from evaporating too quickly.) Using a Sharpie, draw a line marking the top of the oil. Using a ruler, draw hash marks going up the side of the bottle at whatever increment of measure you desire. Invert the top of the bottle and place it into the bottle to act as a funnel. Leave bottle outside to capture rain.

weather vane

Source: Education.com

11. Make a wind vane (used for measuring wind direction).

What you need: Paper cup, pencil, straw, pin, paper plate, construction paper scraps

What to do: Poke a sharpened pencil through the bottom of a paper cup. Insert a pin through the middle of a drinking straw and into the eraser of the pencil. Make a cut approximately 1 inch deep on each end of the straw, making sure to go through both sides of the straw. Cut small squares or triangles of construction paper and slip one into each end of the straw. Place your wind vane onto a paper plate or piece of paper with the directions marked.

weather anemometer
12. Make a barometer (used for measuring atmospheric pressure).

What you need: A dry, empty frozen-juice can with lid removed, vinyl or latex balloon, rubber band, tape, drinking straw, 4 x 6-inch piece of cardstock

What to do: Cut off the stiff band of the balloon. Stretch the balloon over the top of the juice can. Secure a rubber band around the balloon to hold it securely. Tape the end of the drinking straw to the center of the balloon surface, making sure it hangs off to one side. Fold the cardstock in half vertically and make hash marks every quarter inch. Set barometer right next to the measurement card. As the external air pressure changes, it will cause the balloon to bend inward or outward at the center. The tip of the straw will move up or down accordingly. Take pressure readings 5 or 6 times a day.

weather cups

Source: Instructables

13. Make an anemometer (used for measuring wind speed).

What you need: Five 3-oz. paper cups, 2 drinking straws, pin, paper punch, scissors, stapler, sharp pencil with eraser

What to do: Take 1 paper cup (which will be the center of your anemometer) and use a paper punch to punch 4 equally spaced holes about half an inch below the rim. Push a sharpened pencil through the bottom of the cup so that the eraser rests in the middle of the cup. Push 1 drinking straw through the hole in one side of the cup and out the other side. Push the other straw through the opposite holes so that they form a crisscross inside the cup. Push a pin through the intersection of the straws and into the eraser.

For each of the other 4 cups, punch a hole on opposite sides of the cup about half an inch down. To assemble: Push 1 cup onto the end of each straw, making sure that all of the cups are facing the same direction. The anemometer will rotate with the wind. It does not need to be pointed in the wind for use. For an explanation of how to calculate wind velocity, click here.

What are your favorite weather activities?

Weather Experiments

Posted by Elizabeth Mulvahill

Elizabeth Mulvahill is a certified elementary teacher and Associate Editor with WeAreTeachers.

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