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Literacy in Kindergarten Dramatic Play Centers, Part 4

By Allie Magnuson on May 20, 2011
  • Grades: PreK–K

When we study weather in science, our dramatic play center becomes a weather station. With self-made instruments, hands-on experiments, and — as always — plenty of literacy, the weather station inspires the children with a sense of wonder and awe for the natural world.





Literacy in Your Kindergarten Weather Station Center

Kindergarten Weather Station Center

Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Current Weather Maps

Kindergarten Weather Station Center   

The young meteorologists report the weather using animated, interactive local maps. You can find maps for your own kindergarten weather station center at Weather.com or Weather Underground.


Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Weather Words and Symbols

Kindergarten Weather Station Center   

Students forecast both the local and national weather by affixing words and symbols to the U.S. map and seven-day pocket chart.

Kindergarten Weather Station Center

To determine the temperature and air pressure, the meteorologists check their thermometer and barometer. Wind speed is measured by seeing how fast their anemometer and windsocks move, and the wind chill factor is determined by seeing how fast hand sanitizer evaporates and cools their hands. Using a Doppler radar (a tape recorder), the children use the Doppler effect (the sound of a battery-operated razor moving back and forth) to forecast thunderstorms. They measure the depth and temperature of snowfall with a ruler and a thermometer.


Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Sun Clocks

Kindergarten Weather Station Center

The meteorologists read the shadows from their sun clock to determine the time, which is then broadcast on TV. Visit the Exploratorium to make a sun clock for your kindergarten weather station center.


Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Thunderstorm Tracking Charts

Kindergarten Weather Station Center

After it rains in a jar, two students may simulate a thunderstorm while the meteorologists track its distance and intensity. One student rubs a balloon in their hair and holds it up to the antenna on the weather station's state-of-the-art lightning detector (an AM radio), while another student blows into a paper bag, twists it closed, and pops it to make thunder. Since radio waves and lightning travel at the speed of light, while thunder travels at the speed of sound, the meteorologists listen to the lightning crackle and use a stopwatch to track how long it takes to hear the thunder. For every five seconds between the sounds, the storm is one mile away.


Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Tornado Warnings

Kindergarten Weather Station Center

The newscasters of the kindergarten weather station center use the Emergency Alert System to transmit a bulletin from the National Weather Service issuing a tornado warning. They then show live footage of the tornado by flipping over two attached soda bottles filled with water and debris.


Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Earthquake Special Reports

Kindergarten Weather Station Center

One student shakes the seismograph to simulate an earthquake while another pulls the paper through to record the earthquake's strength. The newscasters interrupt the regularly scheduled programming to give a special report.


Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Volcano News Flashes

Kindergarten Weather Station Center

Reporters in the kindergarten weather station center go "on the scene" of a live volcano. After reading the breaking news, they flash it in front of the camera.


Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Tide Charts

Kindergarten Weather Station Center

The marine meteorologists make tide charts showing the times and heights of high and low tide.


Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Constellation Names

Kindergarten Weather Station Center

Students make constellations on the bottoms of paper cups and name their creations. They project the constellations on the wall, and the meteorologists report on the night sky by holding up the names of the constellations they see.


Kindergarten Centers Literacy Item: Moon Observations

Kindergarten Weather Station Center

Jack and Jill on the Moon 01 Jack and Jill on the Moon 02 Jack and Jill on the Moon 03 Jack and Jill on the Moon 04

My students know that the dark spots on the moon look like Jack and Jill going up the hill, from the nursery rhyme. The meteorologists observe the daytime moon, and depending on whether they see Jack or Jill, they report whether the moon is in the first quarter or the third. You can download the Jack and Jill on the Moon activity guide for your kindergarten weather station center from the Madison Metropolitan School District Planetarium. 

Do you incorporate weather into your dramatic play center? If so, what do you do?


Have a fair-weather weekend!



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Comments (9)

I really like this lesson and how you incorporated so many learning styles. The students appeared to really be engaged and apparently loved doing the activities. I like the last photo where-in the young lady was using a video or cam recorder to film the other young lady. Many children have seen weather channels or T.V. news reporters thereby may have some background knowledge. This lesson went beyond Science and incorporated other content areas.

Amazing stuff! thank you so much for sharing!

Hi Joy ~ I agree - anytime we provide vocabulary for students we are building a background for them. I think a lot of times we do assume students know what we are talking about and a lot of times, the kids won't say, "I don't understand" and you just keep going. So, I agree that building an explicit vocabulary, especially for the second language students is very important. Thanks for reading and commenting. ~Allie

Hi Charlotte ~ Wow - that's fantastic that you were able to get the meteorologists to come to your school. I wish I would have done that. I agree - anytime you can incorporate "real life" situations in the classroom you will be providing students with enriching experiences. Thanks for reading and commenting. ~Allie

Hi Heidi ~ Thank you so much for the compliment. It was hard work but the kids and I are enriched because of this experience. We were able to do amazing things. Thanks again for your kind words. ~Allie

Really liked the literacy activities. Great vocabulary, too. We have a tendency to assume our kids understand those words, but so many children, especially second language children need the explicit instruction.

Hi, Allie! My student loves learning about the weather. Two of our local Meteorologists from two of our news stations,came to our school and talked to the kids about their jobs and answered the kids` questions. It was neat!Your idea for the play area set up for them to pretend to be weather forecasters is a great idea!It also gives them a chance to learn public speaking. I like it!

Wow, Allie! You are so creative and hard working! I am amazed at all that you do and accomplish, and your ideas are amazing! You must be a "star" teacher at your school! Heidi Butkus

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