What is Weather?

Background Information:  Weather is what is going on in the atmosphere at a specific time and place. The atmosphere is the blanket of air (gases, liquids and find solids) that encircles the earth.

Gather pictures of different kinds of weather from books, magazines, old calendars, the Internet, etc. Look for pictures of the sun, rain, hail, clouds, snow, rainbows and wind. If your children are ready, add extreme weather such as tornadoes, floods, blizzards and hurricanes.

Start by going outside. If the weather is nice enough, take a blanket or rug and lay on the ground. Look up at the sky. Ask your children what they see. Is the sun shining? (Of course, remind them never to look directly at the sun). Have them close their eyes and feel the warmth of the sun. Can they feel a breeze? Is there any wind? Can they hear it? When they open their eyes, can they see evidence of wind? Does the air feel moist or dry? Do you see any clouds? Do all the clouds look alike? Encourage your children to think about what they see and ask questions, too.

While you are lying there looking up, explain that what they see is air and water in the sky. Interactions of sun, air and water make the weather. Your children may ask how the water gets in the air. Have them paint water on a hard surface on a warm day and watch the water evaporate.

Once you are inside, show the pictures. Ask the children what kind of weather they see. Explain the weather terms that aren’t familiar. Ask your children to sort the pictures in different ways. Find all the pictures with clouds. Sort the pictures that look warm from those that look cold. Separate the pictures into sunny days, windy days, rainy days and snowy days. Sorting is a very important scientific skill and it reinforces learning.

If your children seem interested to learn more, you might want to show a newspaper or Internet site with a weather forecast for your area. Talk about what a forecast means. If you want, have your children cut out pictures and make a weather collage. Or post the weather pictures/posters around the room.

In the next few days, when the weather has changed a bit, take your children outside again. Ask them how the weather feels now. Is it warmer or cooler? What do the clouds look like now?

Have the children look out each day and discuss the weather. Think of creative ways to record the weather. Suggestions:

  • • Gather a doll, paper doll or stuffed animal to be the “weather doll.” Make or buy weather gear such as a raincoat, sweater, shorts, sunglasses, hat, etc. Dress the doll or toy in appropriate weather gear each day.
  • • Divide a paper plate into sections, one for each type of weather you might expect. Decorate the sides of the plate with pictures of the different types of weather you chose. Attach a spinner (paper arrow) to the center with a brad. Then move the spinner to the correct weather each day.
  • • Create a chart with days of the week across the top and the options for weather with pictures (sun, rain, windy, cloudy, snow) down the side. Place a check mark in the boxes that apply each day.

Have fun. Weather is a topic to be revisited again and again.

Weather Words:

(See more words and definitions in

Be a Meteorologist, Budding Section)

  1. cloud
  2. damp
  3. drenched
  4. drizzle
  5. evaporation
  6. flood
  7. fog
  8. frost
  9. hail
  10. humid, humidity
  11. lightning
  12. melt
  13. mist
  14. rain
  15. rainbow
  16. raindrop
  17. shower
  18. sleet
  19. snow
  20. sun
  21. thaw
  22. thunder
  23. wind

© Roberta Gibson 2021