Written by contributor Donielle Baker of Naturally Knocked Up.
Keeping a weather journal helps us to understand how the world around us works. In addition we begin to appreciate not only the inner workings of the weather system, but also the modern systems we have in place to help us during extreme weather (watering crops in our current heat wave for example).
Today I’ll be sharing some ideas on why and how you can start weather journaling with your family.
My desire to begin a weather journal with my children has been inspired by many different things over the last few months:
- Our current weather has been unseasonably hot – much hotter than most summers in fact! We have now hit triple digits for the first time in over fifty years and have also seen very little rain since May. This offers an easy way to show my kids how our weather directly affects our home, the local crops, and animals.
- Stacy’s post here at Simple Homemade about Nature Journaling got me thinking about ways that I could begin to show my children nature. They have already accompanied me many times as we forage for different herbs and I love to see their excitement as they learn something new. But I also wanted to tackle just one part of nature to keep it simple over the summer months.
- Our current read aloud is On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder, where they also dealt with a mild winter and hot, dry summer. It’s been fun to see how our current weather pattern matches one from the early 1870s!
What to track
Depending on the age of your children, you can choose to keep it very simple or chart quite elaborately and use it as part of their schooling. For our young children, we decided to track temperature, rainfall, and occasionally drawing pictures of what it looks like outside.
Photo by Donielle
One of the easiest things to track is going to be the temperature. You can find a thermometer at any garden store, use an app on your phone, or head to your local news stations website to find the daily temps.
While doing some research for making our own weather journal, I came across a post on Simple Homeschool that mentioned making a weather tree and thought it would be a great way to have a visual reminder of the temperature that also served as a picture on the fridge.
Instead of a tree, we made our own flower meadow, color coded for days with temperatures in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. And one day in the 50s.
I thought it would be fantastic to start at one end of the page and stamp a flower in order for each day of the month.
My children on the other hand wanted to stamp wherever they felt like it, so we also added the date in the center of each flower.
You could also take this basic idea and change it each month or each season, making snowflakes or leaves falling from trees – the possibilities are endless. For July we’ve begun using just a calendar and stamping a different colored butterfly on each day.
Photo by Jinx
Tracking rainfall is another fantastic way for children to see direct results from our weather. In our current drought-like weather we’ve been able to notice the dry, brown grass where the sprinklers don’t reach and we see the effects it has on our garden when the plants begin to fall over from lack of water.
I’m hopeful that someday, very soon, we’ll be able to actually use our rain gauge and see how that changes the plant life around us as well as the river that runs through our woods.
To track rainfall it’s as simple as setting a rain gauge out in your yard. You can find them inexpensively online or in stores, or use something you already have at home. (Just make sure that it can’t be blown over.)
- Make your own – learn how to make your own instruments for tracking weather.
- Learn the cloud types – as your children draw pictures of what they see, you can also talk about the types of clouds and begin to see a correlation between what clouds you see and what weather you experience.
- Print off a weather journal – I’ve found one for young children on Tales from Outside the Classroom (it is a free download but requires you to sign up for an account), and simple ones for older children at Donna Young.org
And tracking weather isn’t just for kids! I’ve also begun to write down weekly average temps and rainfall in my garden journal to keep track of how the weather affects my plants. I’m hoping that after a few years I’ll have my own resource on how to grow different types of produce in different weather variations.
Do you track the weather? I’d love to hear your thoughts.