Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lightning and Thunder and Tornadoes, Oh My!

I don't know about the kids in your life, but I remember vividly my fear of summer storms as a child. I was terrified of thunder and, after an evening spent in a closet waiting out a tornado warning, I was afraid of any strong wind gusts as well. Like so many fears however, I found that more I new about a topic, the far less fearful it became, to the point that by late childhood thunderstorms were (and still are) one of my favorite parts of the summer.

The cliche rang true - knowledge was indeed power. Power, and freedom from fear.

Books were a key part to gaining that knowledge.

One episode of PBS' Reading Rainbow was probably the tipping point. In this episode James Earl Jones brought life to the story of Kipat, who watched his herd, as he stood on one leg like a big stork bird in Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain. The story taught me about the importance of the rain to the plants and animals who share our planet, that summer storms are a blessing for the Earth.

Another book that helped me to make sense of the weather was the children's non-fiction book Weather Words and What They Mean. This book gave me words to put the phenomena I saw around me.

Recently I used these two books, in addition to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, to teach two different programs for preschoolers about the weather. The weather here in Colorado this summer has been rather crazy, and often severe, so I thought some of the kids I see each day might be struggling with the same fears I once had regarding the weather.

Here are the crafts we did:

Drawing the Weather

blue construction paper
blue, grey, white and yellow crayons
glitter (glitter pens or rolling glitter)
cotton balls
school glue (or glue sticks)

The kids were each given a sheet of "sky" and then were encouraged to use their imaginations and the supplies provided to draw the weather. Many drew lightning, made glittering rain and had lots of fun gluing cotton ball clouds to their papers.

Making Clouds

dixie cups (or other small disposable container)
white school glue
shaving cream
blue construction paper (which we glued to paper plate frames in advance, to add support)
craft sticks (to stir and stick with)

Put one part school glue per two parts shaving cream in a cup, then have the kids mix the shave cream and paste together - this will be their cloud foam. They can then plop it on their papers and shape their very own clouds, big or small, globby or thin, thick or sparse.

Next time - one of my other favorite parts of summer, Camping!!

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