I really want to share with you our weather station, using child-sized real tools. I've spent some time researching 'Montessori' or 'child weather station', or 'Montessori weather unit' and most of the results have been either three-part card work or felt/card weather stations. The lovely felt or card weather stations might be fine for toddlers but a child from four or five can read a large children's thermometer, why not offer it to them.
One of our previous Montessori schools had a large child's thermometer outside the children's house door (3-6 years), many of the children would, with interest, check the temperature as they arrived at school in the mornings. It sparked a lot of discussion. For a child who shows a deeper interest, why not record the temperature or perhaps check the wind direction, or measure how much it has rained?
I found a few tools that are easy for children to use and understand that are also really accessible. For example, a rain gauge costs only a few dollars and can be found at most garden centers. Our weather station includes:
- easy to read indoor/outdoor thermometer, children's thermometers are available at many educational stores
- rain gauge
- weather vane
- compass, required to ensure the weather vane is operating in the right direction
- an anemometer.
We had a print out weather recording sheet but Otis preferred to record the results on our outdoors chalkboard. I would love to add a cloud chart but haven't found the perfect one. If you were somewhere like Brisbane, it would be interesting to measure humidity too.
Our weather station is child-led, we've researched with Otis what tools he could use but when and what he measures, and how he records it is entirely up to him. Although, I hope he gets to a stage where he might be interested in graphing the results! He hasn't learnt about graphs and I think this may be a really good introduction.
He also dates and put his name on the recordings.
What I love most about this type of work is that it allows the child to make their own discoveries. I have used worksheets before to teach Otis about how to use a compass, but out in the field/backyard he's learning in a more hand-on way. There is a whole lot of science, mathematics and language attached to this very simple (but also complex) work.