Weather Wise Gardening
Taking Cues from Mother Nature
Before technological resources were available, people used to rely on nature for predicting the weather. Share some of these common clues with the kids by going over weatherlore sayings. For instance, "if it smells like rain," then chances are good that wet weather is on its way. Another one might be, "rainbow at noon, rain will come soon." Many of these can be found within weather forecasting resources. Teach kids how to pay attention to their surroundings; even the slightest change in anything from animal behaviour to plants and the sky can tip off an upcoming weather event. Discuss various weatherlore sayings and encourage them to keep track of which ones are true, perhaps in a journal or chart.
Look at Plants
In the garden, there are many way to look for clues to weather. Plants, for example, are great weather forecasters. Many plants are able to determine temperatures as they rise and fall. As a result, some of these plants will open and close their foliage or blooms. Take the kids out to the garden and see if they can find examples of this. For instance, a crocus will open up when it's warm and close when it gets colder. Plants can also predict weather events the same way. Daisies fold up their petals before it rains. Tulips open up when the weather is fair and dry. The leaves of many trees will turn their backs up, signaling approaching rain or stormy conditions.
Look at Animals
Animals are also good indicators of weather. Unusual behaviour is one of the most common signs of bad weather because animals are sensitive to changes in the environment. For instance, birds will fly high in sunny weather and lower once conditions worsen. Take a walk with the kids and allow them to study unusual animal behaviours. Let them watch the insects. Spiders will leave the web when bad weather is coming. Bees will go back to the hive. Dogs might eat more grass. Cows can be seen in a huddle.
Crickets are great for forecasting temperatures. During warm weather, they will chirp faster, but once it begins getting cooler, crickets will chirp slower. The number of times a cricket chirps within 15 seconds will give the current temperature when added to 37. Allow the kids to test this theory out.
Look at the Sky
From its colour to the types of clouds, the sky is another weather indicator. Discuss weatherlore saying that reference the sky such as "red in the morning, sailor's warning." "The higher the clouds, the better the weather." Have them look at the sky for signs of weather events. For instance, the clouds will become darker and taller when stormy conditions are likely. Few clouds in the sky mean fair weather, as do bright blue skies. Keep in mind that just because it may be sunny, however, doesn't always mean pleasant conditions. It can sometimes rain while the sun is still shining. This usually doesn't last too long though. Like the saying, "sunny shower won't last an hour." See how many of these sayings they can come up with and note which ones are true on their chart.
To keep the topic fun, let the kids become a meteorologist for a day. Have them come up with their own weatherlore report using some of the saying they have learned. For instance, "The flowers smell especially lovely today. What does this mean? There will be clouds later with a good chance of rain. Tomorrow, however, no rain will pass if there's dew on the grass."