Investigating the weather

Curriculum overview

The Australian Curriculum: Geography content description addressed in the illustration is:

  • The weather and seasons of places and the ways in which different cultural groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, describe them (ACHGK006)

 Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Learning goals

This illustration of practice aims to involve children in inquiry into the weather by observing and recording the basic elements of the weather of their local place.

The illustration-specific learning goals are:

  • developing observational skills
  • developing understanding of patterns in the environment
  • practicing regular and accurate recording of data
  • understanding the links between weather, seasons and human activities.

Geographical understanding and context

The spatial patterns of weather and seasons are central themes in geography. This illustration begins at the most concrete level of daily observations and recording using sketched symbols. It initially focuses on the local environment and then makes comparisons with different areas of Australia. It also makes the first elementary steps in understanding how weather is generalised into climate, through seasonal patterns.

The ways that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples describe seasons is described in an extension activity.

Teaching approaches

1. Weather charts

The starting point is an investigation of the weather in the child's location. This can be done by creating a chart on which daily observations of elements of the weather are recorded. These can start as simple sketches for 'sunny', 'cloudy', 'raining', 'windy'. The habit of recording the weather each day over a period of time makes children aware of the patterns and changes in weather, and is a good training in recording. 

Discussion of the recorded patterns with the children can lead them to a description of the changes in weather throughout the year - the basis of our understanding of climate. This can lead to discussion of contrasting weather patterns and seasons in storybooks or in television shows and movies.

2. Newspaper weather pages or ICT apps and websites

The comparison of the local weather to the weather in other parts of Australia can be done on any day by using the weather page of a major daily newspaper or widely available weather apps and websites. They use symbols and figures to forecast temperature, cloud, rain and wind conditions. If a few places in Australia with contrasting climates are chosen (for example, Darwin, Alice Springs, Hobart, Sydney, Perth) groups of children could record a week's weather for each of these, and then tell the class about it.

3. Contrasting weather patterns and seasons

Alternatively, you might develop the contrasts in distinctive weather patterns and seasons by choosing desert and rainforest as two vivid examples. A visual experience of each of these places could be gained from a DVD, YouTube video or photographs. From this visual stimulus, children can be asked to draw a picture which shows the typical weather and typical vegetation of each of these climates.

Suggest to children that, in their drawings, they include:

  • clouds or blue sky
  • rain or lack of it
  • sun shining or hidden by clouds
  • trees or lack of them
  • any smaller plants
  • some typical Australian animals of the desert or rainforest.

Another way of approaching different weather patterns and seasons could be to discuss different holiday places and the clothing needed for them.

4. Extension activities

Children could be shown the seasonal calendars developed by various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. These are readily available on the Bureau of Meteorology website, and in picture books.

For students who are confident with figures, some numerical data might be included in the weather recording, such as the forecast temperature or the amount of rainfall for a day.

What you need

Chart for recording weather observations.

Access to ICT equipment for DVD, Internet and apps.

Time frame: Recordings can be spread over at least a few weeks. Possibly a set of recordings in winter and in summer would be most effective.

Curriculum connections

This illustration links with the content descriptions of the following Phase 1 Australian Curriculum. 

English

  • Engage in conversations and discussions, using active listening behaviours, showing interest, and contributing ideas, information and questions (ACELY1656)
  • Understand that people use different systems of communication to cater to different needs and purposes, and that many people may use sign systems to communicate with others (ACELA1443)

Mathematics

  • Represent data with objects and drawings where one object or drawing represents one data value. Describe the displays (ACMSP263)
  • Describe duration using months, weeks, days and hours (ACMMG021)
  • Identify outcomes of familiar events involving chance and describe them using everyday language such as 'will happen', 'won't happen' or 'might happen' (ACMSP024)

Science 

  • Observable changes occur in the sky and landscape (ACSSU019)
  • Represent and communicate observations and ideas in a variety of ways such as oral and written language, drawing and role play (ACSIS029)
  • Compare observations with those of others (ACSIS213)
  • Science involves asking questions about, and describing changes in, objects and events (ACSHE021)
  • People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE022)

History

  • Use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written, role play) and digital technologies (ACHHS038)

 Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

Resources

Books:

Dorion, C. (2011). How the weather works. Massachusetts: Templar Books. This book is full of pop-ups, pull-outs and other interactive resources to interest children.

Furgang, K. (2012). National Geographic kids everything weather. Washington DC: National Geographic Society. This is a colourful and stimulating book for children.

Lucas, D. (2005). Walking with the seasons in Kakadu. Melbourne: Allen & Unwin.

Websites:

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2013). Australian Curriculum: Geography. Retrieved May 2013, from: www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Geography/Rationale

The Australian Government: Bureau of Meteorology has a wealth of weather information - look for areas of interest through the search facility. Retrieved August 2012, from: http://www.bom.gov.au.

The Australian Government: Bureau of Meteorology has a section on Indigenous weather knowledge which includes seasonal calendars. Retrieved August 2012, from: http://www.bom.gov.au/social/2011/08/indigenous-weather-knowledge/.

All other required resources are listed in the 'What you need' section above.