Weather is an endlessly fascinating subject, but it may feel too complex and “sciencey” for easy teaching to kids. These weather experiments and activities for kids are not only easy for parents to set up — they’re fun to do. Try a few of these out at home or in your classroom, and let us know in the comments how they worked out.
1. Clouds and Weather from PBS (Ages: 3 to 7)
What can you learn from watching a cloud? Any meteorologist can tell you that clouds have a lot to say about the weather. From learning to identify different types of clouds to understanding how to predict weather based on clouds, these activities offer fun ways for kids to learn about clouds and what they do. This full lesson plan includes a short animated video, support materials and suggested activities, and a list of standards addressed in the lesson. It's ideal as either a classroom activity or a home learning activity. Bonus: Follow the links for more suggested lessons about clouds from PBS Learning.
2. Weather Journal from AcuRite (All ages)
Check out our Junior Weather Watchers page to find more fun activities for kids. Download the printable weather journal and repurpose it just a little. Have your older kids record the types of clouds they see each day and make weather predictions based on their observations. If you want, dive in a little deeper, and have your older kids tally the daily rainfall into weekly and monthly totals, or track the hottest and coldest days of the week-, month- and year-to-date.
3. Cloud Gazing from Bright Horizons (Ages: Infants and up)
The Cloud Gazing lesson is one of the better weather activities for toddlers we've found. The first step is to read the book "It Looked Like Spilt Milk" together. If you don't have it at home, here's an animated video read-aloud you can watch with your child. The main part of the activity, though, is to go lie on a blanket and look up at the clouds together. As you talk with your child about the shapes they find in the clouds, you can add in little factoids about how clouds form, the names of different types of clouds, and what they mean for the weather. It may not seem like a "lesson," but you're giving kids the basics for learning about the weather around them.
4. Weather Activities and Lessons from Argo (Grades: 7 through 10)
This teacher's guide includes an entire unit of lesson plans to use with older kids. We especially liked the lessons on making and using a weather station, which start on page 37. There are instructions for making instruments to measure rainfall, wind direction, wind speed, and humidity. Just for fun, have kids make one or two instruments, and compare their measurements with those recorded on an AcuRite home weather station. Bonus: There's a great chart explaining the Beaufort scale for measuring wind speed.
5. Rain Cloud in a Jar from Fun Learning Activities for Kids (Grades: K to 5)
This messy, hands-on activity is practically made to order for a rainy day with kids. It uses clouds of shaving cream and food coloring to demonstrate how rain falls when the clouds get too full of water to hold it all. Bonus: The lesson includes printable observation sheets for kids to fill out and record what they learned.
6. Tornado in a Jar from UCAR (Grades: pre-K to approximately 6)
Here's another weather-in-a-jar activity that's great for a wide range of ages. Kids can learn about the science behind tornadoes and how vortexes form. You can extend the lesson for older kids by asking questions like "when are tornadoes most likely to form?" and "how do engineers design buildings to withstand tornadoes?" For your best readers, pull up our blog post about Tornado Alley and let them learn more about where tornadoes are most likely to form. Bonus: Click around the UCAR site for lots more kids' weather activities.
7. Make a Barometer from STEM Activity (Grades: 5 through 8)
Air pressure is a key factor in determining the weather around us. This fun activity includes instructions to make a balloon barometer, and some questions to ask and answer about why air pressure is important in measuring and predicting the weather.
8. Water Cycle Bag from Ziploc (Ages: 9 to 12)
Your kids can make it rain indoors — without getting your living room wet. This fun science experiment from the makers of Ziploc baggies lets kids observe the water cycle in a controlled environment. Make it even more fun by having them make two water cycle bags and put them in different parts of the house to see how climate affects the water cycle.