The weather helper in preschool

The weather helper in preschool

Every morning after the children come to preschool, we settle into our morning group time and talk about the weather. It’s been interesting how much learning, growth, and development I have seen stem from this simple process of documenting and talking about the weather.

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

Miss Abby and I both take similar approaches to documenting the weather each day. Miss Abby has the younger students while I work with the PreK students so you will see from the photos that the children are at various stages of development in their ability to draw symbols, hold a writing tool, and share their ideas with us.

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

Each day, our weather helper of the day is asked to draw their weather picture on our small clip board.  Some of our students begin the year with lots of “scribbles” but to the child, every scribble has a story to tell.

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

Sometimes, the child goes over to the window to draw on his or her weather chart. We find going to the window and touching the window helps the children to recognize what the weather is like that day more fully (cold, hot, sunny, cloudy, and so on). Going to the window also inspires more conversation and we can ask questions like “What do you see?” “How does the window feel to your hand?” “Did you need a coat on today?” And so on…

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

And some children may already know what they want to draw so they stay in the helper chair and get to work…

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

We then ask the children to tell us about their drawing and they will tell us things like “It is cloudy” or “It is sunny and rainy.”  There is no right or wrong answer and we don’t challenge their weather stories, we simply document the words that the children use on their paper.

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

And then we share and sing about the weather with the whole group using some of the weather words the child has chosen to share with us that day. One of the greatest things about all of this is that I have never had the children question or be critical about each other’s drawings. The children seem to accept their difference in drawing styles easily. Now they may challenge each other on what the weather is like. One child may say it is sunny and warm when there is snow on the ground and the others will challenge this but the children still stay more focused on discussing the weather. Of course, we as teachers also treat each drawing as it is a prize possession because each one really is.

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

After singing about our weather, we place the weather chart on our weather board so we can continue with our weather pattern throughout the week. On some days, we go back and review the weather and on other days, we move on to our next thing. It all depends on where the conversation leads us and the interests of the children.

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

As the year progresses, we begin seeing changes in the children’s drawings. Lines for raindrops often start to show up…

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

And circles with lines for sunshines start to be added to their drawings…

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

The drawings gradually become less scribble and more defined…

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

And by the end of the year, many of our older students are turning their weather chart into full weather stories with people and symbols. The children will begin to tell us stories such as “It’s sunny and cloudy and this is me and my friends playing outside.”…

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

We print the weather words that the children give us on the weather chart and sometimes will even print out the full story. We always add the child’s initials and date the document as well. All weather charts are saved and put into the child’s portfolio to give parents at the end of the school year. It is a wonderful collection of drawings that are meaningful and demonstrate progress, understanding, and skills throughout the school year…

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

I posted a brief note about the weather helper on my Instagram awhile back and one of the comments was that her student’s wouldn’t be able to sit still and wait for the child to draw the weather. So I thought I would also share how we manage this process.

  • First, it is important to note that we do not have a long, set routine of other things we do in the morning circle. Our weather is the most important part of our morning routine and then we move onto our story and other activities for the day.
  • Second, on some days, this process goes by very quickly – only taking a couple of minutes – and on other days, it can take longer (especially as the children get older).
  • Third, I’ve been doing this for four years now and every year it just keeps getting more intriguing to me. I started out making it a quick routine but over time, I realized that it had the potential to be so much more so we always take our time to really explore, talk about, and investigate the weather through this process.
  • Fouth, I find that as the children document their weather symbols and stories, they become more interested in the weather and the process is so much more meaningful. I will never use a preprinted weather symbol again – not because it is wrong to do so – but because once you fully embrace a process similar to this and see the results, it’s a game-changer on what works the best.

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

Finally, as the children become more interested in this process and want to draw more elaborate weather stories, I have had to come up with a few short routines we can do to keep the children from getting bored while we wait. Some days we need these routines and other days we don’t. We do things like pass around our letter board for the children to talk about and trace with their finger…

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

Or we use the time to have conversations about other things we are or will be exploring that week…

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

And there are some days when the weather is so interesting, we all just stop and join our helper at the window and everyone discusses the weather together while our helper continues to draw.

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

I hope I haven’t lost you on this rather lengthy post but I wanted to do my own documenting of our weather helper process as it is a process I have really grown to love and believe in. I’ve seen children feel so accomplished, build confidence, and build new skills with this short morning routine and it just gets me all excited!

The Weather Helper by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

What will the weather be today? by Teach Preschool

Graphing the Weather by Teach Preschool

Weather Word Wall Art by Teach Preschool

Cloud in a Jar by Teach Preschool

Exploring Raindrops and Clouds by Teach Preschool

22 Comments

  • Mary Posted April 3, 2016 9:06 am

    Deborah you are a teacher at heart!

    Blessings Always,
    Mtetar @ http://projectsbyMtetar.wordpress.com

  • Wendy, Vermont Posted April 3, 2016 10:41 am

    We use symbols that the “meteorologist” can choose from, and usually discuss/compare the past few days of weather as well (how many sunny days have we have this week?) I DO like the idea of drawing the weather and am formulating a plan to add this into our day instead of the symbols. Than you for the great ideas.

  • Lisa Whitcomb Posted April 3, 2016 2:12 pm

    What do you do when the weather helper says that it is cold out when it is actually hot? Do you accept what they say, even if you and other students disagree?

  • Trisha Cooper Posted April 3, 2016 3:00 pm

    I love this and am so grateful you are blogging again! Thank you!

  • MIRIAM CECILIA FERNANDEZ BORASO Posted April 3, 2016 3:09 pm

    great routine! with weather! do u think that can I implement this routine with first graders/formers ? is it possible?
    love & kisses from ARGENTINA!
    MIRIAM

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted April 3, 2016 6:35 pm

    Absolutely! I think first graders would be terrific with this!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted April 3, 2016 6:35 pm

    Thank you Trisha:) It feels good to be blogging again!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted April 3, 2016 6:37 pm

    We always respect the weather helper’s decision for the weather board. I have found that the children figure out pretty quickly that it is okay to disagree and even have a different view on things and yet still respect each other’s ideas. It’s an interesting part of the learning process for us all:)

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted April 3, 2016 6:38 pm

    At the beginning of the year, we provide preprinted symbols as well to give the children a basis to work from but once they have the basic ideas, we move onto creating our own symbols.

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted April 3, 2016 6:39 pm

    Thank you Mary:)

  • Amy Posted April 3, 2016 7:24 pm

    I am always looking for new ideas to extend “circle time.” I already have a helper who selects our songs that we sing for the day. In the past, the helper selected three song cards while we waited. I found that it just took too long for everyone, so the helper now selects the songs shortly after arrival. This also gives me the chance to sit and discuss unfamiliar songs or answer the question: “Where is _____? That’s my favorite!” My wonder with your method of the weather helper drawing while everyone waits is have you ever had the helper do his/her job before circle time? I love your ideas, Deborah! They always hit as “WHY didn’t I think of that before???” Thank you for helping us improve our schools in these small, easy to implement ways!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted April 3, 2016 8:34 pm

    Hi Amy,
    That’s a brilliant idea to draw before circletime. I hadn’t even thought about it. But as I sit here thinking about it, I worry that part of what has made this approach to exploring the weather is that it has been more about taking time out to promoting conversation with the whole group about the weather. The discussions do so much to influence the children’s thinking and the weather helper feels important because everyone is waiting on him/her for just this few minutes out of an entire day. I just don’t know but I think I will give both ways a try and see if there is any difference in the outcome. I like to try things to see what happens! Thank you for the idea!

  • Amy Posted April 4, 2016 8:04 am

    It is nice to share an idea with someone who has given me so many ideas over the past few years! Looking forward to trying out this new responsibility for my helpers at school. I love how seriously and excited everyone gets when it is their turn to be the helper 🙂

    Enjoy your week!

  • Leigh Ann Gombac Posted April 4, 2016 10:11 am

    How many children do you have in your groups? I have 24 pre-k so I am wondering if having them draw the weather only 5 times a year would be a good documentation.

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted April 4, 2016 10:25 am

    I’m not sure what you are currently doing but I guess it would still be more than just placing a card on a weather chart. The conversations as well as the modeling of drawing would still be worthwhile. It’s a good question to consider what the benefits would be. I just always think where we can integrate the children into processes and into the things we display around the classroom, we are always going to find it worthwhile.

  • Denise Posted April 4, 2016 11:45 pm

    Love this! Thank you for always inspiring me <3

  • Amy Posted April 5, 2016 5:54 pm

    So, Deborah, here is an update. I tried the Weather Helper scenario during Circle Time today. I figured since this was the first time, it would give everyone a chance to see what we were doing. The first young man to do it is one of my quieter friends. He did not hesitate to tell me that it was “cold outside.” So, I asked him to draw cold. Without missing a beat, R drew some horizontal lines that were the wind. Amazing! I was so proud of his creativity. Thank you for such a simple, wonderful, idea! Already, the rest of the class can’t wait till they are the helper so that they can be meteorologists, too!

  • Belinda Posted April 9, 2016 11:57 pm

    I was wondering if you have a different meteorologist each day? My weather person has the job all week, so would that person draw daily? Also the windows are pretty high.

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted April 10, 2016 12:50 pm

    We have a new weather helper each day. Your meteorologist could either draw everyday or choose someone each day to draw for him? Pull up a chair or step stool just for looking out the window:)

  • Michelle Posted December 23, 2016 10:20 am

    You said goodbye to calendar and kept weather? I find weather is more of a time killer and what are you intentionally teaching? I would like to hear more about this….

  • Chris Posted March 3, 2017 1:41 am

    I love this idea! Children *love* clipboard and Sharpies. My weather routine is admittedly kind of lame, so I may try to work this in somehow. I’d like to overhaul my jobs to reduce the number we do, and to make the remaining jobs more meaningful. This is a great step in that direction!!

  • Lucy Williams Posted June 4, 2017 3:53 am

    On my weather cards, I do write the date, the year and the day. At the end of the month, I collect all of the weather cards, and then I pass them out to the students. I put the days of the week on the floor. Then, the students look at their cards. I ask them what day and date do they have. After they have all had a chance to answer me, the students lay their card in the right order under the right day. We even have week end weather people …they take home a card to write the weather and then bring it back on Monday! Next, we graft…how many sunny days? How many cloudy days? etc . The grafting, it is pretty visual. I happen to live in Chengdu, China and everyday is usally cloudy, so it is fun when we get rain or sun…never snow!! I have a class of 4 year olds. Thanks for sharing all of your great ideas from your years of experience!

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