Young children learn through multiple pathways. To support science learning in the preschool classroom, the National Science Teachers Association recommends using hands-on activities that allow the students to explore and discover. Instead of keeping weather activities boxed up in the science center, extend them throughout the curriculum and into pretend play. Whether children pretend they're weather anchors or create a mock storm, drama can provide an imaginative way to tackle environmental science concepts.
Pretend to Be Weather Forecasters
During the preschool years, children are learning about the seasons and connecting the changes that they see to different weather patterns, according to the PBS Parents website. Help your students learn about the weather, build related vocabulary and get creative with a TV station pretend play experience. Set up a TV station in your classroom. Hang a map of the United States behind the students and explain that they will describe the weather in each area. This also provides an opportunity to learn about climate and explore the differences between regions. For example, the "weather anchor" can point to the northeast area of the map. If it's December she might say, "Today's weather will be cold and snowy." If it's June, her forecast may include, "Today's weather will be sunny and hot."
Dress Up for the Four Seasons
Preschoolers are developing the ability to understand that different types of weather require wearing specific pieces of clothing, according to the "Pennsylvania Learning Standards for Early Childhood." Provide your students with a bin of pretend play dress-up clothes that match the seasons. Include a winter coat, snow boots, mittens, hats, rain boots, a rain slicker, shorts, sweaters and sundresses. Call out a season and have the preschoolers pick out which dress-up clothes they will wear. If you say "winter," students can pick out coats, mittens, hats and boots. They can then act out their own winter scene. Repeat this with the other seasons.
Learn With a Make Believe Thermometer
Understanding how to use a thermometer and what the numbers mean is part of many states' preschool standards. For example, Pennsylvania's early learning standards for preschoolers include the use of a thermometer in their science concepts and competencies. Preschoolers should also develop the ability to use scientific tools to observe change, according to Maine's "Early Childhood Learning Guidelines." Explore how to use this science tool and help your young students to connect the numbers with the weather outside by making a pretend play thermometer out of paper. Write a number on it and ask the students to act out a scene that features the weather for the temperature. For example, write "85" and have the students act out a summertime scene at the beach or the swimming pool.
Use Props for Weather Play
Children in the preschool years should develop the cognitive skills necessary to pretend props are the real deal within a pretend play scene, according to the Arizona Early Learning Standards. Make and use weather props in your classroom. For example, ball up pieces of white paper to make a snowstorm, or use cotton balls to stage a pretend play snowball war. Cut pieces of blue construction paper and have the students toss it around like rain.
- National Science Teachers Association: NSTA Position Statement, Early Childhood Science Education
- PBS Parents: Science: 4 to 5
- Arkansas State University: Weather Wonders
- PA Keys: Pennsylvania Learning Standards for Early Childhood
- Maine Department of Education: State of Maine Early Childhood Learning Guidelines
- Arizona Department of Education: Arizona Early Learning Standards
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