As adults we know how weather affects both our lives and the garden. But what about the kids? How do you explain the affects of weather to kids without putting them to sleep? Planting a garden, of course! Using the weather as a teaching tool in the garden is a great way to explore all aspects of weather in a fun, easy to understand way.
Children will have the opportunity to observe various weather patterns and their effects on garden plants. They will develop a better understanding of the changing seasons and how each one affects the garden.
Have the kids create a planting calendar and a diary. Encourage them to write about and illustrate the garden during various stages of development and changing seasons. Have them make special notes about weather conditionscloudy, sunny, windy, rainy, hot, cold, etc. This is a great way for kids to study the seasons as the garden grows.
Just for fun, have the kids collect items pertaining to specific seasons as they approach. For instance, bulbs, flowers, and rainwater are good items for spring. During summer, they might collect fruits and vegetables. Autumn items could include colourful leaves and seeds. Snow, tree branches and pinecones are good ideas for winter.
Create a weather station by making a rain gauge to measure rainfall and a thermometer in the garden to keep up with and study temperatures. Discuss the importance of rain and its effect in the garden. For instance, what happens when the garden gets too much or too little rain?
Since water is vital to the garden, teach kids how to measure rainfall. Find an old coffee can or jar to collect and hold rainwater. Use a clear straw for measuring rainwater. Have the kids mark the straw with inches or centimetres. Place the container somewhere in the garden, preferably attached to a post. Insert the straw in the container once a week and record the amount of rainfall. To read the measurement, simply place a fingertip over the top of the straw and take it out to see the depth in inches or centimetres.
Study the effects of temperature. How do hot or cold temperatures affect plants in the garden? Entertain the kids with fun old wives’ tales and lore to teat their accuracy. For instance, you can supposedly calculate the temperature of a given area by listening to crickets. Count the number of times they chirp in a 15-second interval and add 37. This is supposed to give you the current temperature.
Discuss weather forecasting and use common weather lore sayings to predict events in the garden. Have the kids keep track of the ones that are true. For example, birds are said to fly closer to the ground before stormy weather. When leaves of trees overturn and plants droop, possible storms and windy conditions are likely. Flowers are thought to smell more intense just before rain. The higher the clouds, the better the weather.
Another fun way to predict weather is to create a ‘weather stick.’ Get a stick, no more than 2-feet in length, and peel away the bark. According to lore, the stick will predict rain or clear weather conditions. Attach the stick to the house or other structure either under the eave or outside a window. If the stick points upward, expect good weather. If the stick points down, it is said that rain or other precipitation is on its way.
Did You Know?
The most important weather related factors affecting plant growth are heat, sunlight, and water, all of which vary greatly from plant to plant. Weather also affects the soil. Collect different soil samples and research how weather played an important role in their formation. Were you aware that the worst weather for plants is drought? Shallow roots will die quickly in dry soil. Lower roots will search for water by going deep in the soil; however, with just one large downpour of rain, these roots can become waterlogged from flooding and eventually die.