Weather activities are more than just a great way to teach kids about science—they can ignite a lifelong passion for science and technology. Experimenting with science sparks the kind of curiosity that inspires inventions and new technology, and helps create solutions to some of the biggest challenges of today and the future. It's one of the reasons the U.S. government is investing heavily in STEM education—but you don't have to wait for school to teach your kids about science. You can use everyday items and a few science tools to get them started on exploring the science behind the weather. After all, why should teachers have all the fun? Check out these cool weather experiments and ideas to spark your kids’ interest in science.
Fun Weather Experiments to Try With Kids
Want to see your kids' eyes light up? Just say the word "experiment." Young minds—and old, for that matter—learn best by making things happen. There's something especially fun and engaging about hands-on experimentation. This downloadable PDF from the National Weather Service in Huntsville, Alabama, includes a whole summer's worth of experiments suitable for elementary school kids. Once they've completed each experiment, you can help them make connections by relating what they observe to these weather facts.
Make a Weather Journal
Our AcuRite weather stations make it easy for your kids to log, track and even predict the weather, but they'll have a lot of fun—and learn a lot about the science behind our everyday weather—when they create their very own science tools for kids. The activity pack from the National Weather Service mentioned above includes instructions for making several different weather tools, including a thermometer, anemometer, barometer, radiometer, and rain gauge. Why not make several, and then compare the DIY readings with readings from the more advanced weather stations?
Create Clouds in a Bottle
Creating a cloud in a bottle can help your kids learn how clouds form. You only need a couple of household items—and adult supervision for this one.
What you need:
- A jar
- A balloon
- Warm water
- A flashlight (optional)
- Cut the top off the balloon so that you can stretch it over the top of the jar.
- Pour about half an inch of water into the bottom of the jar.
- Light a match and hold the lit end inside the jar for a few seconds so that smoke gets inside the jar.
- Drop the match into the water.
- Quickly cover the top of the jar with the balloon, pulling it tight.
Gently push down on the center of the balloon to increase the air pressure inside the jar. A cloud will "magically" appear. Push down a few more times to watch even more clouds gather. If the clouds are hard to see, shine the
flashlight through the jar to make them more visible.
Find more of our favorite weather experiments for kids of all ages in our earlier blog post.
Relate Weather Science to Everyday Life
Weather science is all around us. Take advantage of everyday activities to help your kids understand how weather affects nearly everything you do. You can talk about checking the weather forecast when planning outings, for example, or explain why some days are better than others for baking a cake (hint: It has a lot to do with humidity). There are even teachable moments when pumping up your tires for a bike ride (another hint: wind comes from changes in pressure). Remind them to check the temperature outside or the weather forecast when deciding what to wear for the day, or ask them to figure out whether the weekend will be a good one for the beach.
Challenge Them to Track the Weather
If you're raising a child who loves details and long-term projects, challenge them to collect weather data in their own backyard. Visit our Junior Weather Watcher page for some downloadable resources, including a daily weather journal and national weather maps for coloring. Here are some ideas for weather tracking and monitoring activities.
- Record the high and low temperatures for the week, month and year.
- Track the rainfall in your backyard and compare it to the official rainfall numbers for your area.
- Make a daily weather report using their own predictions based on their observations of weather conditions.