Studying the Weather

Really, I had no idea how easy it was to study the weather. Since it is easy to observe and measure in a meaningful way it lends itself well to a hands on science unit. I found multiple ideas and activities to incorporate into our weather unit.

Main Resource
Our Weather and Water (God's Design for Heaven and Earth) - Using the sections on weather only, our weather unit lasted approximately 10 weeks. We covered topics like atmosphere, water cycle, clouds, precipitation, storms, and weather instruments.

Weather Instruments
These three weather instruments were easy to make from easily accessible supplies. My second grader learned how to tell wind direction with a wind vane, measure precipitation with a rain gauge, and determine wind speed (no/slow/fast) with an anemometer.

wind vane

rain gauge

anemometer (measures wind speed)

Other Activities
The weather instruments were the highlight of the unit for my son. However, he did enjoy the other activities as well.
  • Layers of the Atmosphere Worksheet - While studying the layers of the atmosphere, students in my co-op class drew various objects found within each atmospheric layer on a worksheet. For instance, precipitation was drawn in Troposphere, and the Northern/Southern Lights were drawn in the Thermosphere.
  • Water Cycle Lift the Flap Project - Inspired by this idea, I created a worksheet which followed the basic idea of this lift the flap water cycle.
  • Cold Air Activity - Using this activity, students learned about air pressure.
  • Cloud Examples - While studying cloud formation, students made their own cloud types out of cotton balls, which were glued to a piece of blue construction paper. (Idea found here.)
  • Cloud in a Jar
  • Rain in a Jar - This idea was found here.
  • Thunder Demonstration - By blowing up a small brown lunch bag and clutching the end shut, we formed a balloon shaped bag. Next we popped the bags. It sounded sharp, a bit like thunder.
  • Making Lightning - We tried several ways. This one seemed the most successful.
  • Tornado/Hurricane - Using two 2L bottles, a washer, loose glitter, water, and duct tape, we made a storm in a bottle. The students had a blast making the water tornado.
  • Weather Report - Each student was given a weather chart and asked to observe the weather for one week. We used these free ones.
  • Thermometers - This is one activity, we did not get around to! However, next time, I will be incorporating this homemade one.

Extra Books

Simple Botany Experiments for Kids

Admittedly, botany has grown on me (no pun intended). Each time I have taught a unit on botany, my intrigue has grown. Watching plants literally grow before your eyes, examining some of the individual parts up close, and learning how plants function has become a real interest of mine. As my interest piqued, so did my desire to foster a love of botany in my children.

One way I have employed is hands on learning. What follows is a listing of botany experiments and activities we have done (successfully, for the most part) in our own home.

Growing & Dissecting Seeds

Using dry kidney beans from the store, a snack-size plastic bag, water, and a paper towel, we were able to watch the beans sprout. These were hung with painter's tape on a wall.

Later, using some beans from the same bag, we soaked beans for a few nights in a bowl of water. Then, we cut open the beans to identify the different parts of a seed (seed coat, hilum, food supply, embryo)

Observing & Growing Roots

Aside from simple observations of fibrous and tap root systems, we like to observe roots forming.

Typically, we have some jar or bottle filled with water and a leaf clipping somewhere in our kitchen. It is an observation we continually try with varying success (all depends on the clipping and the type of plant).

However, for the first time, this year, we attempted to grow a plant from part of a carrot. It worked!

Observing Stems

This is another repeat experiment for us. In an effort to observe how stems help transport water and minerals, we placed a celery stalk in colored water. (We've found blue is the best color with clearest results.)

Observing & Studying Leaves
Leaves are one of the easiest parts of a plant to observe. On many nature walks, or even in our own backyard, we've discovered amazing leaves. In the past, we've collected, compared, measured, and pressed leaves.
Something new we tried this year was to remove chlorophyll from the leaves. It was autumn, and we could easily see the leaves losing their greenness.

Deciding to remove the chlorophyll was easy. Figuring out exactly how was harder. We tried several methods. The two that seemed to work best were a scratching method and a boiling procedure. For ideas on how to remove chlorophyll go here.

Dissecting Flowers

In a previous post, I shared how my co-op students fashioned paper flowers. This served as a review to the previous class, which was dissecting a flower.
During the first co-op class on flowers, I taught the students the parts of a flower. Using a fill-in-the-blank worksheet and white board, the students learned various parts of the flower. We then spent the rest of the class dissecting real flowers (pictured above pre-dissection). We used information from here and here, but ultimately, I had to create our own hybrid documents and procedure tailored to our students. An alternative is a virtual lab found here or here.
Growing a Garden

One of the most simple botany activities to do is to grow something from a seed. For numerous years, we have grown, or attempted to grow, some of our own vegetables and spices. Our family has gained a better understanding of plants
Collecting & Pressing Flowers & Leaves

This is such an easy project to do with smaller children, but one that older students may enjoy as well. It is certainly one hands on activity we have done through the years multiple times.

Nature Walks & Backyard Observations

Having curious children is easy. Directing their curiosity toward creation is even easier. It seems to me, that children are naturally drawn to their natural surroundings. Whether a walk at a park, on a beach, in a woods, or in your own backyard, there is an interesting plant to be seen.


Almost every year we go to the orchard and pick fruit. Though it is not our sole intention to study the fruit on the tree or vine, it is remarkable how much we observe about fruit during these visits. This year, as with most things plant related, we opted to dissect fruit. We cut apart bananas, apples, pineapples, and strawberries, all which we ate afterwards.

For more botany lesson ideas and activities: 
Follow Dorie's board Botany on Pinterest.
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