I admit it, this assignment is overdue. I gave myself some homework in early September as students and teachers headed back to class: write a blog entry suggesting good books for elementary teachers. I started reviewing books on the car ride up north one weekend. But the warm sun beating down on the passenger seat rendered me unconscious for a good portion of the ride. So I am handing in this assignment a few weeks late. No need to send me to detention. Since my wife teaches 4th grade and sister teaches K-4. They’ll make sure my parents hear about this.
Let’s start with the kindergartners. Since the science of weather can be confusing, even to adults, the idea here is just get them interested in the subject. “Kipper’s Book of Weather” is a one word per page book that lets the illustrations describe each term (fog, wind, hail, snow, etc.). No storytelling here, just the basics.
The next step up for early readers would be an actual story about the weather. You’ve probably have copies of “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and sequel “Pickles to Pittsburgh" in your classroom”. Students won’t learn much about weather since there is no such thing as pancakes storms and tomato tornadoes but it will generate interest in the subject. A while back I sat down to read “Cloudy” to a group of kids at a library. Even though I hadn’t flipped through those pages in almost 20 years, I still remembered most of the quirky precipitation that rained down on the town of Chewandswallow!
Dr. Seuss’s “Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today?” is one of my favorites. The best part is the mix of poetry and prose contains useful weather knowledge. The reader comes away learning about the basics of weather, instruments, and more. Cover to cover the book is both educational and entertaining!
A more recent series of books by Scholastic, Smart Words Reader (sorry but couldn't find a direct link for this set) is an excellent tool for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. One pack contains five 32 page books:
1) Rain and Lightning
5) Weather and Climate
This set does a terrific job of going beyond the basics in an easy to understand approach. Items covered include air pressure, how fronts work, the Greenhouse Effect, and the different scales for measuring hurricanes and tornado strength. When books reach this level I often get critical of anything published that’s not meteorologically correct. For this set I have nothing but praise.
Well teachers, I hope this blog gives you a few ideas on how to bring the outdoor classroom inside.