Mother Nature goes a little crazy when it comes to weather in the summer months. Take advantage of the “outdoor classroom” she provides to help teach your kids about weather and its impact on the environment.
Certain types of weather can be tricky to explain, especially when kids have never experienced them. In the summertime, you may find yourself faced with tough questions like “what is a tornado?” “How does lightning work, and what is a drought?” Whether you know the answers or not, it can be helpful to illustrate the concept in addition to just talking about it. Check out books from the library on weather, or find videos online of different weather patterns to watch as you discuss each phenomenon.
Learning about the science behind weather can help kids understand it better and might also help ease any fears that wild weather may bring. Consider paying a visit to your local science museum to discover exhibits on weather, or find projects or activities you can do at home that can help explain big concepts in simpler terms. For example, it may be difficult to explain that a tornado is a vortex of rotating wind created by centripetal force. With just a few simple items you already have at home, you can make your own tornado to show your child how it works.
Tornado in a Bottle
All you need to make your own tornado is an empty plastic bottle, dish soap, glitter, and water. Follow these simple steps:
1. Fill the bottle up three-quarters of the way with water.
2. Add a few drops of dish soap and a pinch or two of glitter.
3. Screw the cap back on the bottle tightly.
4. Turn the bottle upside down, and holding it by the neck, move it around quickly in a circular motion to swirl up the mixture inside. Then hold the bottle still and watch the mini vortex that forms inside.
Developing Environmental Awareness
Talking about how weather works is a great way to start a conversation about environmental responsibility in relation to climate. Growing up in Southern California, droughts have been an issue for as long as I can remember; but now more than ever, water conservation is critical. Even the youngest kids can learn to take little steps to save water. From the moment my daughter began learning how to brush her teeth, I started stressing the importance of shutting off the water while you brush in order to prevent waste. She caught on immediately and even began reminding me when I occasionally forgot.
It’s never too early to start learning about how our actions can affect the environment and the weather. As you talk about tornadoes and hurricanes, or work on science projects, use the opportunity to explain what you can do to help alleviate climate change. Help your child come up with ideas on what you can do to make a difference, like conserve energy by turning off lights and recycle items for more science projects.
Do you have anything fun planned with Mother Nature this summer? Maybe cooking up some more DIY science fun, or taking the kids on an educational hike? Tell us in the comments below!
Image source: Sher Warkentin | Flickr
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.