Nature study can be as simple as a short walk in the neighborhood or as elaborate as a week in Yellowstone National Park. Don’t make it hard. Just go outside. This month, we suggest you spend some time outside every day that the weather is reasonable, and observe what is going on with the weather. We’ve gathered some information about several weather events as well as some questions to ponder. You don’t have to know all the answers to your kids’ questions because you can look up the answers later.
First: here’s a project for this month, and ongoing if you’d like. Here is a downloadable, printable calendar on which your kids can record the weather this month. You choose what you want them to write or draw each day, but try to be consistent. If you miss a day, you can search the internet for the weather for that day and fill it in.
Here are some questions about the weather to consider with your kids
- How do different parts of the world experience the seasons differently?
- What causes the seasons?
- What are ways we can orient our lives to follow the seasons?
- To what degree is a given day’s weather based on (a) season, (b) nearness to water, (c) latitude, and (d) natural variability?
- What makes forecasting the weather so difficult? Why is Oklahoma especially difficult?
- The Weather Channel has been criticized by some groups for making “wet” forecasts (i.e., reporting a higher chance of rain than they actually measure). What reasons (good and bad) would the weather channel have for doing this?
- Why does the sun feel hotter at different times of year?
- Why does the sun travel differently across the sky in different seasons?
- Why is it still light after the sun sets?
- What are the different shapes of clouds that you have seen?
- Where do clouds come from and what are they made of?
- What causes Rain?
- Why does it rain harder sometimes than it does other times?
- What causes lightning?
- What causes thunder?
- In a thunderstorm, why do we sometimes hear thunder at the same time as lightning, and sometimes later?
- Where does snow come from?
- Why are snowflakes so different from each other?
- Why do we put sand or salt on the roads when it snows?
- What causes tornadoes to form?
- What should you do if a tornado is coming toward you?
- What roles does weather play in the Bible?
- How is God at work in the weather? How does that fit with both scientific and theological views of the world?
- Think about the interactions between the weather, the water cycle, and organisms. Why do you think that God designed the ecosystem in this way?
Handbook of Nature Study:
Have you heard of Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study? It’s a fantastic book that covers all kinds of creatures, plants, and habitats. Since it has all sorts of resources in it, you should download it for free at https://www.google.com/books/edition/Handbook_of_Nature_study_for_Teachers_an/CjPbAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0
Anna Botsford Comstock talks about Weather on pages 857-886 of the linked edition of the Handbook of Nature Study. Take a few minutes to read those pages, and then keep those ideas in mind as you and your kids watch the weather this month. That way, you may remember the answers to some of their questions, and you have another handy resource to check when you can’t.
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