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Using weather apps and forecasts with kids

Weather observation helps children be alert for changes in their environment and their need to prepare. Sometimes we underestimate what we can teach young children. Checking the weather forecast every day on media, plus learning weather clues for their own forecast are good ways to nurture awareness. Weather affects their safety, activities, and clothing choices for the day and family outings.

To get up close and personal they can stick a leg out the door, or observe weather through the window. Start asking questions. Is it sunny or cloudy? Will we need to wear sunglasses and hat today? Is the sky really cloudy, partly cloudy, or clear? Are there clouds coming in?

They can observe the kinds of clouds. If the clouds are thick like a blanket and it’s rather gray, these stratus clouds are holding lots of possible raindrops or snow. It could be a wet or dreary day.

If there is a blue sky with some big white cotton ball cumulous clouds it could be a nice day to play outside. If these clouds are gray or black (cumulonimbus) we could have a storm. If the sky is clear with just a few high wispy feather cirrus clouds, we probably won’t have rain or snow.

Observe trees and flags. Is it really windy, a little breezy, or a calm day? Check out the temperature. Will we need jackets, hats, and mittens today or can we dress for warm weather?

When children observe the weather each morning you can have a good conversation at breakfast and can plan the day and clothing choices together. There are no clothing arguments because there has been discussion about what it’s like outside, what we must wear to protect ourselves and be comfortable.

You can teach family safety rules for lightning, storms, and potential frostbite. Explain what causes thunder, lightning, and strong winds to increase alertness and reduce fear.

There are many free or inexpensive apps. AccuWeather shows interesting live radar, hourly and daily predictions in different towns. KidWeather and other sites found on www.commonsense media.org also interests kids. Newspapers and television also have great information and get children accustomed to reading maps and forecasting.

Children can take turns giving a weather report for the family and reading maps to learn cities and states. They can compare their own observations and predictions with professionals’ forecasts. These activities make them more aware of their surroundings. Children enjoy taking photographs of different kinds of clouds and approaching storms or changing weather on lakes. They make excellent subjects for marker, crayon, or watercolor drawings.

All of these activities help children become sharper, observant, and able to take part in adult conversations.

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