January 18, 2019 by WittyLibrarian
Program Title: Wild and Extreme Weather
Target Age Range: Grades 1-3 and 4-6
Program Length: 60 minutes for younger, 90 minutes for older.
Brief Description: Learn about wild and extreme weather, and how to prepare for it.
Other assorted random craft materials
Watering can with sprinkle top
Large flat bin to catch water in
Additional supplies for Grades 1-3
Cookie cooling rack
Additional supplies for Grades 4-6
Disposable Aluminum pans, one pan for every 3-4 kids registered
Clay or Playdough
Advanced Preparation: Create cardstock houses by taking a sheet of cardstock, cut it long-ways in half; fold each piece in half, and then tape the two pieces together to form a square. You will need one house for every 3-4 kids registered.
For the older group’s program, take aluminum pans and line one half of each pan with a thick layer of clay/playdough. The idea is to create a clay/playdough “hill” in the pan that the cardstock house can rest on. Sink the cardstock house into the clay so it is held firmly in place.
We presented this program for two different age groups; grades 1-3 and grades 4-6. The two programs shared the same main activity with slight variations.
- Introduction and Youtube Videos
- For both age groups, we opened the program with the delightfully silly video Grover Weather Monster, from Sesame Street.
- Following the silly video, we showed the grades 1-3 participants SciShow Kids’ What causes Thunder and Lightning video.
- For the older kids in grades 4-6, we showed the video Severe Weather: Crash Course Kids #28.2 by Crash Course Kids.
- Discussion of topic.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has fantastic explanations of hail, lightning, floods, and thunderstorms, that are all excellent resources (Please note: the links are currently not working due to the government shutdown. Weather Wiz Kids is another good, alternate source of information).
- Explanation of project (Save the House!).
- Since the project primarily relies on the participants building a waterproof roof for a cardboard house, we showed Signore Francis’s Learn Types of Home Roof Designs (Illustrations) video, and discusses while the video played (on mute), the benefits and drawbacks of each roof design.
- Save the House! Building Activity.
- As a fun, atmospheric touch, we played Relaxing White Noise’s EPIC THUNDER & RAIN Rainstorm Sounds For Relaxing, Focus or Sleep | White Noise 10 Hours video softly in the background.
- Testing the Cardboard Houses.
- End program.
Save the House!
For each age group, we divided the participants up into small teams of 3-4 kids.
For Grades 1-3, each team was given a cardstock house, blank paper and pencils.
For Grades 4-6, each team was given a disposable aluminum pan with a clay hill, atop of which sat the cardboad house, as well paper and pencils.
Both age groups were given the directive to build a roof that would protect the cardboard house from rain. The older group, grades 4-6, were given the additional directive of saving their cardboard house from flood, as well as rain.
For both age groups, they used the paper and pencil to draw their ideas for potential roofs for their houses. After deciding on a roof design, the kids used a variety of supplies (cardstock, construction paper, wax paper, craft sticks, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, masking tape, cotton balls, etc.), to construct a roof, and, in the case of the older kids, a flood barricade.
As their was general excitement to see how every house fared, testing was done in front of the entire group.
For the younger kids in grades 1-3, the house was tested by a librarian who placed the house in a disposable aluminum pan, atop of cookie cooling rack (to keep the house out of the flood waters). The librarian then used a sprinkle watering can to slowly “rain” on the house, and test how waterproof the roof was. The watercan we used in the program allowed for different strengths of water flow, so we increased the strength of the water to indicate more torrential downpours.
For the older kids in grades 4-6, the watering can was also used to test the roof for protection from rain, but additional water was poured into the disposal aluminum pan on the end that was not covered with clay. Midway through the “downpour,” small amounts of gravel were thrown on the roof in imitation of hail.
While testing the roofs, we discussed as a groups the benefits of each roof design.
This activity was derived from Discovere.org’s Waterproof the Roof activity, with the addition of the flood testing for the older group (grades 4-6) being inspired from another Discovere.org activity that is no longer available online.
What we would do differently:
This program ran very well as planned. The kids had a great time planning and building roofs and flood barriers, and trying different designs, but they all especially enjoyed watching the houses being tested. Each age group actively encouraged us to try our best to destroy the house with rain, flood, and hail, and, to oblige them, it might be best to have multiple sources of water available to provide the most extreme weather scenario possible.
Adaptation for older/younger audience:
This project would work well for a younger, PreK-K age group, if you change the focus from extreme weather to normal rain. The free building nature of the project is a natural for all age groups, even young ones, so they will delight in trying to build a roof. For the younger age group, you might want to give them multiple houses to test, and have them design roofs individually, rather than in groups.
This project would also work very well for an all ages Family program, as families can work together to design both roofs and flood barricades, while discussing the benefits of every design consideration.