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Weekly Challenge # 11: 100% Chance of Weather

November 12, 2013

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In a recent #EnviroEd chat we discussed the value of Inclement Weather Learning and most of the participants in the chat agreed that being outdoors in less than optimum conditions had a lot of merit.

One piece that came out of the discussion was the obvious value in preparing to be outdoors in all weather.

Students come to the nature centres in November and December may think that they are dressing appropriately for the weather however the “winter boots” that are adequate on the ploughed sidewalks of the city are not nearly enough on trails where the snow may be a foot deep. The question is how do we get children today to comprehend was is appropriate? I often will speak to students before coming out to the Peel Field Centres about the value and importance of dressing appropriately. Having said that though students will still come out less than prepared and this makes me wonder about how students “see” weather back at school.

Every child should be able to dance in the rain, jump in the puddles or watch their track disappear in the snow behind them when snowing hard. However, we’ve gone from the outdoors being something we lived with, to something that we wished to conquer to something which we wish to avoid. In this day and age where students are driven to school or the mall children need to understand what preparing to be outdoors means.

There are some great videos out there such as this one from Active Kids Club  which I encourage teachers to look at and make use of in preparation for going outdoors.

But I also think that regularly going out, in all conditions, is also a key tool in your arsenal. Here are a few tips I think would make your outdoor learning time more successful as we head into the colder weather.

1. Many younger grades will look at the weather first thing in the morning as part of their morning routine, however there is something to be said for finishing your day by looking at tomorrow’s forecast. Discussing how to prepare for tomorrow will hopefully create some discussion back at home for how to dress the following day.

2. Head outside frequently. Rather than have the students thinking I only need to dress for “Outdoor Friday” or for field trips … if they (and their parents) know you could head out at any time eventually students will come more prepared.

3. Many of us work in underprivileged areas, or in places where there may be a high immigrant population and therefore neither the students nor parents may be able to recognize or be able to provide the right tools. By having “extras” for those students unable to afford, or for those that forgot can be quite handy.

This week’s challenge is around the weather as we get into the colder months in the northern hemisphere. How can your students track the weather, share successes and challenges with each other? Consider journals, photos, science experiments or mapping. Look at the November winds, snow crystals or ice conditions and make inquiries and create climate based epiphanies about your local weather. Perhaps find the connections between what a kindergarten class is seeing in one town to what another class seeing elsewhere (how long did it take for the weather to get from one area to another for instance).

After all, there is a 100% chance of weather every day.

Good luck and as always share your results!

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