How is the sky-y? Tell me, please.
The sky is (sunny).
The weather is sunny….
What is a Weather Tree?
A Weather Tree is a simple concept that some believe sprang from the experience of an American woman who stayed with a Chinese family in 1920 and was responsible for creating their “Chart of the Lessening of the Cold”. Basically, it is a way to visually track weather patterns throughout the year. With obvious Math and Science concepts involved, and easy tie-ins to Art, Music and Language, Weather Trees can make a fantastic addition to any early-learning program. Plus, they are fun for young children and you can make one – as we did – with materials that are on hand.
Making Our Weather Tree
To ease back into focused learning times after Christmas, we created parts of our Weather Tree over the course of a few days. (It could well have easily been completed in one day, but we chose to stretch it out.)
On Day One, I presented the idea of a Weather Tree to Luke and Nina and shared some pictures of examples. (See the links below.) Then, we discussed how large we wanted our Weather Tree to be, where we should put it and what we could make it with. We also went for a walk where we spent a good deal of time observing the weather and singing songs about it.
our Crayon Pockets. (I suggested grays, blacks, greens and other colors, too, but she wanted just browns and tans.) Then, all three children set to work coloring in the outline and helping me to cut it out and tape it to a door. Finally, we labeled each large branch in marker with the name of a month, chanting the months as we went.
On Day Three, we thought back to the Usbourne Weather book the children had recently read to think about what weather patterns we might like to chart and which words to include as vocabulary/descriptors for our Weather Tree Key. Although the book explained that weather is caused by three main things (heat, water and air), the children decided they liked the ideas of sky, temperature and air movement.) So, we went with those. Luke then helped me pick out clipart to make Weather Tree Key Cards (which I will post soon as a printable). Finally, Nina and Luke decided what color they wanted to use for each key word, creating our Key. (We have since decided we should have created a “still” card and have assigned a key color for still air, too.)
Morning Bag. For now, the binder is the epitome of simplicity: It contains print outs of leaves and colored pencils. To make it, Luke selected the type of leaf he wanted for our tree (a maple) and helped me find a simple clip art picture for it online. I then created 31 numbered leaves, which we printed out and slid into one pocket of a binder. We slid a box of colored pencils in the other pocket. Since then, we have transferred the pencils to a zippered 3-ring binder pencil case which I picked up at Family Dollar.
How We Use Our Weather Tree
Daily, in the morning, we observe the weather by looking out the window, stepping out the front door or taking a walk. In doing so, we usually sing our Weather Song to the tune of BINGO, with a verse about the sky, the temperature and the air. However, sometimes, we skip singing and simply talk about the weather.
After we sing, or when we have a chance if we are on the run, the children take turns taking out our supplies binder, finding the correctly numbered leaf for the date, checking the Weather Tree key for what colored pencils they need, coloring the leaf, cutting it out and taping it to the appropriate branch on the tree.
Sometimes, we revisit the tree later in the day noting how the weather has changed, but not making a new leaf.
Sensory and Curriculum Connections
Sensory: The media we used for our tree was simple – paper, colored pencils, etc. However, one could use different textured media if they wished. Plus, tape and glue can be a sensory experience in themselves.
Cutting, coloring and taping provide daily fine motor and pressure grading practice for the kids.
Stretching, bending and sometimes turning and twisting for vestibular/proprioceptive work comes with our Weather Tree Song and with putting the leaves on the tree. We also get heavy work in during weather observation walks.
Auditory input is inherent in the walks and songs as well.
Faith and Character: We talk about who made the world, and, likewise the weather. I also see wonderful things happening as far as kindness and sharing goes as the children take turns being responsible for attaching a leaf to the tree each day and as they help each other read the key.
Reading: Reading the key and the names of the months on the branches of the tree familiarize the children with sight words. Our Weather Tree Song introduces spelling. I may also begin selecting a weather or seasonal related song or verse each month, which will be posted and recited or sung during our Weather Tree time.
Writing: At this point, we are using pre-numbered leaves for our tree. Eventually, we will do more numeral writing practice by having the children write their own numbers. We will eventually have the children write their own numbers on the leaves. Also, we may add in occasional copywork pages centered on the date, the weather or short weather-related poems.
Math: Charting. Numbers. Counting. Adding. One-to-one correspondence. Odd and Even numbers for turn taking. All these and more are inherent in our current Weather Tree use. I plan to add bar graphs, line graphs and sorting in later, too.
Practical Life: Dressing appropriately for different weather patterns is a key practical life skill. As we move along with our weather tree use, we will likely add some tie-in Montessori-inspired lessons on this.
Science and Technology: Basic weather words and concepts, discussion about seasons and nature walks are currently a part of our Weather Tree use. Eventually, I might introduce weather measurement tools and more in-depth science concepts.
History/Social Science/Geography: The Weather Tree serves as a type of time line and helps us to discuss concepts such as today, yesterday, tomorrow, this week, next month, etc. It also provides ample opportunities for social skills such as turn-taking and sharing. Plus, it ties into geography. We have begun to discuss how different geographical locations have different weather and will key into this more when we travel to see in-laws.
Visual Arts: The children decided they wanted multi-colored leaves to track three different facets of daily weather patterns and also decide for themselves how they want to add these colors to their daily leaves. As time goes on, I will begin to comment on patterns and styles I see emerging. We may also change coloring media (from colored pencils to paints to ???) as the months go on.
Music: We sing a simple “zipper” song as we do the Weather Tree daily, with the children filling in appropriate terms.
Theater/Dance/Movement: We sometimes act like the air – still, breezy or windy – or enact how the temperature makes us feel – hot, warm, cold or cool. We also move and clap to our Weather Tree Song at times.
Health/P.E.: We take nature walks to observe the weather.
Inspirational Weather Tree Links
- The song I opened this post with is adapted from one shared by Kara at Rockin’ Granola. We changed it to include the three areas of weather we decided to focus on: the look of sky, the feel of the temperature and the feeling of the air’s movement.
- Christopherus Homeschool Resources offers a variety of images of homemade weather trees.
- Kara at Simple Homeschool explains the one-page weather tree chart she uses and offers related ideas for exploring weather.
- Christine at Moment to Moment shares the lovely, large weather tree with life-sized leaf rubbings.
- Tonya at Plain and Joyful Living shares a photo of the Weather Tree she painted on a wall for her K/1 child.
- HeatherLee at Oak Blossoms Academy’s child enjoys a simple hand drawn version on the fridge door.
- Antares Design has a beautiful Weather Tree calendar for sale.
- Dorothy Thelwall at The Weather Tree offers a concise history of the Weather Tree idea, as well as posters for sale that can be adapted from weather concepts to thing such as weight loss goals, smoking cessation goals or even a record of how many legs a hen lays daily.
What daily charts do you use with your children? Do you have favorite activities, verses, songs, books or posts about weather-related activities? Do you know other great links about Weather Trees? Please share in the comment!
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