Lesson 1: Watching the Weather


Activity 1: Start a Weather Journal

Materials: stapler, string*, thermometers (kit)
On the "Weather Journal" activity pages, you will record information about your local weather every day for two weeks. Find all four pages and staple them together. The first measurement you will add to your journal is today's temperature. To take the temperature outdoors, do the following:
  1. Place a thermometer in an area outside where it can measure the air temperature but isn't in direct sunlight. (Try attaching some string to the thermometer and hanging it from a tree branch in a shady area.)
  2. Give the thermometer at least five minutes to register the temperature before you take a reading. Temperatures in the United States are usually recorded in Fahrenheit, which is marked on a thermometer with F.
  3. Read the temperature in Fahrenheit and add it to your journal.
  4. Choose a regular time of day to record the temperature, if you can, since the temperature first thing in the morning is different than the temperature in the middle of the day.
  5. If the thermometer is securely attached and in the shade, you can leave it outside. (You may want to bring it in during severe or windy weather, though.)
You will also begin to track whether it rains or snows. Write this down in the "Precipitation" column, as well as more specific information about the day's precipitation (for example, if it rained, you could note whether it was a brief shower, a heavy thunderstorm, or steady rainfall most of the day). The "Notes/Forecast" column is a place for you to record any other interesting weather details and to begin making your own weather predictions. Add any details about today's weather that you found interesting. Tomorrow you will begin making your own forecasts.
Student Activity Page
Student Activity Page
Student Activity Page
Student Activity Page
Your child will begin a weather journal and today will record the temperature and any precipitation. Help him find a good spot outside to hang the thermometer. As he completes more lessons, he will also begin tracking other factors that influence the weather.
Even though temperature information is readily available to us today, encourage your child to set up and read the thermometer himself. He may notice that the reading on his thermometer is different than the reading he sees on weather forecasts. If he does, talk about why that might be. Weather sites typically get their data from automated weather stations and from the personal weather stations of trained weather watchers. However, many factors influence local weather conditions. The temperature measurements used by your local weather stations could be miles from your child's thermometer and could be taken under different circumstances (at a different elevation, in a more protected location, etc.).

Activity 2: Forecasts and Purposes

Materials: newspaper*
As you complete your weather journal over the next few weeks, you will need to find a good source for weather data. Local news channels provide weather forecasts on television and on their websites. A forecast is a prediction about what will happen in the weather based on the current conditions. Local print and online newspapers often include weather forecasts. The websites for AccuWeather and the National Weather Service are great resources that provide detailed weather and climate information for anywhere in the United States.
Web Link
Web Link
This activity has several parts. Follow these steps:
  1. With a parent, find one or two sources for weather data that you can use to complete your weather journal. (You don't need to fill in anything else today — you are just finding some good sources.)
  2. Next, watch the local forecast for your area on television or online. People usually have a reason for wanting to know what the weather will be like, and forecasters will often try to mention conditions they think people in their area want to know about. Did the meteorologist give any information about specific events, like if it's dangerously hot beach weather, perfect weather for skiing, or bad weather for a sporting event?
  3. Brainstorm a list of five purposes or specific audiences that would want a more specific forecast and write them down on a piece of paper. For example, a sailboat club would need information on wind speed and direction, or a farmer might want to know the next chance for rain.
  4. Choose one audience and purpose and rewrite the forecast that was given for your area so it is most useful to that audience. You can either write it on a piece of paper, or improvise and do a live forecast in front of your family.
If you have time when you are finished, explore the AccuWeather and National Weather Service websites.
In this activity, your child is introduced to weather forecasts. Help him find reliable sources of local weather data for his weather journal (two suggested web links are provided). Your child will then choose a specific reason for a forecast and write one tailored to that audience. For example, a sailboat club would need information on wind speed and direction, or a farmer might want to know the next chance for rain. Read or watch your child's forecast and discuss if he covered the main weather factors of interest.