For a fantastic addition to the year’s science agenda, you might not have to look any further than right outside the nearest door! By starting off the curriculum with weather, you’ll grant students the privilege of deviating from an “open-book, insert-nose” routine. Instead, they’ll experience a more hands-on, visually-oriented means of learning.

Have the class grab their notebooks and follow you outside. There, they will physically experience factors such as wind direction and air temperature, and have the chance to sketch out the different clouds they see on paper for further study later on. A fun first assignment, though, can be to record the day’s data and use their skills as novice forecasters to predict tomorrow’s weather!

Clouds and wind are a great place to begin that first “field session.” Creating a handout with the following information will help students get the most out of this experience; they’ll know just what to look for.

 – Wispy, thin and high in the sky. They point towards whichever direction the wind blows, and are usually associated with fair weather.

– Fuzzy-textured bubbles that sit in long rows. They precede cold fronts, meaning that inclimate weather may be on the horizon.

NIMBOSTRATUS CLOUDS – Dark, low-ceiling clouds that generally produce light rainfall.

– Large, cotton ball shaped clouds scattered about a clear sky.  While normally associated with fair weather, they do have the potential to gather together and form cumulonimbus clouds.

– Wide, towering thunderstorm clouds that can extend far up into the atmosphere. Thunderstorms are soon to follow.

Straight textbook study shouldn’t become a lost art when studying weather, but there’s also no substitute for letting students see the material unfold through an interactive learning experience!