HomeJean Marzollo, author of I SPY

The New Kindergarten

Chapter Eleven

Theme: Weather and Sky

A good month in which to explore this theme is April, a rainy, "weather-filled" month in many areas. Other good months are March (which, according to the saying, comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb), February (good for studying winter and, especially on February 2, Groundhog Day, the concept of forecasting how long it will be until spring), and January (good for studying snow and ice). The theme of weather can be related to an ongoing look at the four seasons, starting in the fall with autumn. It can also be related, as it is in this chapter, with a focus on the sky and space. Space, itself an exciting topic for kindergartners, can become a month-long theme. However you approach the topic of weather, the four seasons, the sky, and space, you'll find that many of the activities can be repeated throughout the year.


kindergarten calendar

Language Arts: Oral Language

Poems for Reciting and Memorization


Two little clouds one April day
Went sailing across the sky.
They went so fast that they bumped their heads,
And both began to cry.
The big round sun came out and said,
"Oh, never mind, my dears,
I'll send all my sunbeams down
To dry your fallen tears."

- Author Unknown


White sheep, white sheep,
On a blue hill
When the wind stops
You all stand still.
When the wind blows
You walk away slow.
White sheep, white sheep,
Where do you go?

-Christina G. Rossetti

It's Raining, It's Pouring

It's raining, it's pouring,
The old man is snoring,
He went to bed
And bumped his head
And couldn't get up in the morning.

- Mother Goose


Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

- Author Unknown


The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here
And on the ships at sea.

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Language Arts: Listening

Father Wind and Mother Wind Poems

Draw two cloud faces (Father Wind and Mother Wind) on an experience chart and have them tell about themselves, as in "I am ... " This activity helps children listen for and identify telling words (adjectives). If you like, repeat the activity on other days for Father Sun, Mother Moon, a drop of water, a rainbow, a pair of boots , and an umbrella.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

-Christina G. Rossetti

Language Arts: Writing

Star Light, Star Bright

Star light, star bright,
First star I've seen tonight,
I wish I may,
I wish I might
Get the wish I wish tonight.

Make language experience paper for the children with a space on top for drawing. Read the children the poem above, and ask them to draw and write about their wishes.

If I Were ...

Ask the children to pretend they are Mother or Father Wind, and ask them to draw and write what they see as they blow over the world. Afterward, have the children read their stories aloud to each other. Explain to parents that you accept invented spelling as a way of encouraging children to want to learn to write, much as parents accept baby talk as a way of encouraging babies to want to learn to speak.

Language Arts: Reading

Names of Stars and Constellations

Show the children pictures of constellations in star books. Teach the children the names of some constellations, explaining that they got their names long ago from people who told stories about them. Help the children count stars in constellations. Give them blue or black construction paper, chalk, and big star stickers. Ask them to make constellation pictures, real or make-believe. Explain that they should put their stickers between their drawn lines, not on top of them, because stickers probably won't stick to chalk. Help the children write the names of their constellations on their pictures. Afterward, have them tell stories about their constellations. To extend this activity in the area of math, you and the children can make a bar graph to record how many stars each child put in his or her constellation. Use stickers to record the stars.

Social Studies

Weather Forecasters

Explain that weather forecasters keep track of the weather and make predictions about the weather for days coming. If possible, make a brief videotape of a TV weather forecaster and show it to the children in class. Ask them to pretend they are weather forecasters, using three tools to measure the weather: a thermometer, a rain gauge, and a wind indicator.


Mount, or have the custodian mount, a big outdoor thermometer outside a classroom window, out of the sun. If your window gets too much sun, find another place to mount it, such as a tree or classroom across the hall. Help the children read the thermometer, and record the readings for a week on a daily basis. Each day, ask the children to predict what they think the next day's reading will be. Record the prediction.

Rain Gauge

With the children, put a ruler or a stack of Legos™ in a coffee can, and set the can outside where it won't tip over and where it will be easy to observe. Help the children measure the water in the can after a rainfall. ("It's now two big lines high" or "It's now three legos™ high.") Record rainfall for a month and graph the results on a bar graph. At the end of the month, ask the children, "Did we have a rainy month, a dry month, or an in-between month?" Ask them to predict rainfall for the coming month.

Wind Indicator

Make a wind indicator with the children by hanging a piece of yarn to a tree branch or climbing apparatus. If possible, hang it where you can see it from inside the classroom.

Astronauts and Astronomers

Ask the children to make a big make-believe spaceship in the classroom so you can take a pretend voyage to the moon. Solicit the children's ideas for making the spaceship and outfitting it for the voyage. You might want to outline it with tape or blocks on the floor and put chairs inside for everyone, or just pretend the rug where you gather for discussion is now a spaceship. For the voyage, make aluminum badges and/or hats to wear. Glue nuts and bolts to paper plates to make control panels for each child to "work" during the blast-off. Ask the children to bring in cardboard paper towel tubes to use as telescopes. En route to the moon, ask the children to look out of their telescopes and describe what they wee. (They might like to pretend they are seeing "for real" classroom posters of space objects.) Serve juice in space in plastic bags tied with twist ties around the straws, explaining that in space there is no gravity - juice won't stay down in a cup. When you reach the moon, have the children get out of ("disembark from") the spaceship. Show them how to walk in a place without gravity (in a bouncy, slow-motion sort of way), Have them plant a class flag (made ahead of time) on the moon. (To do this, tack it to a picture of the moon on the bulletin board.) Have the children get back in the spaceship ("embark") and blast off for the journey home. After they've landed, have them tell (perhaps on tape or video) and write about their voyage in space.


Astronaut Drink


Wind Experiments

1. Dip Ping-Pong ball in paint and set it near the edge of a table covered with brown butcher paper. Have a child blow the Ping-Pong ball as far as he or she can. The paint will leave a trail. Mark the trail with the child's name. Dip the ball in clean water, dry it, and dip it again in paint, perhaps another color. Have another child blow it across the same sheet of paper. Give every child a chance to make a trail. Concept to elicit: The harder you blow, the farther you push the ball.

2. Have the children try moving different objects with wind power, that is, by blowing at them. Have them predict which objects will be harder to move and then test their predictions. Concepts to elicit: Light objects are easier to move than heavy objects. You can move light, flat objects (like paper) if get wind under them. Heavy objects with wheels are easier to move than objects without wheels.

3. To practice blowing through straws, let the children blow through a little juice in the bottom of their cups at snacktime to make bubbles. Once the children are adept at blowing through straws, have them see what will happen if they blow through straws at paint. Spoon a little thinned tempera paint onto paper. Advise the children to blow at the paint from the side, not from the top. Concept to elicit: Wind power can move thin, wet paint. Display the straw-blowing pictures and have the children discuss their shapes, telling stories about any that look like real things.

4. Have the children make flags by drawing with markets or painting flag designs on rectangles of cloth. Tape the cloth to the table with masking tape to hold it steady while the children color. Have the children take their finished flags outside at recess. Have them predict what will happen when they hold them up in the air, and then have them test their predictions. Concept to elicit: On windy days flags flutter in the air; on windless days flags droop.

Water Experiments

1. At the beginning of class, have the children predict how many different ways they will use water at school that day. Write their predictions on an experience chart, illustrating each prediction with a little picture to help the children read the, chart. Check off the predictions as they come true and add to the list ways not anticipated.

2. Put one glass of water on the counter in the sun and one in the shade. Put a thermometer in each, and help the children identify and record the two water temperatures. At various intervals, predict changes in the water temperatures and test the waters with the thermometer, comparing the differences. Concept to elicit: The sun has the power to warm things; we call this power "solar power." Shade blocks the sun and keeps things cool.

3. Provide a funnel and plastic tubing for children to experiment with at the water table. Give them problems to solve, such as: How can you make water run slowly down a plastic tube? How can you make it run quickly through a tube? How can you stop it from flowing altogether? Encourage the children to predict results and test predictions.


Classroom Calendar

To make a classroom calendar, cover a bulletin board (perhaps a freestanding one that you can wheel to the rug area for discussion) with construction paper. Mark off a calendar grid with yarn. Pin signs for the name of the month and days of the week across the top. Make two inch-square oaktag number cards with the numbers 1 to 9 on them. Make fifteen 1s and 2s, five 3s, four of the numbers 4 to 9, and four 0s. Put these "date numbers" in a big fishbowl on a table near the calendar. In another fishbowl, put cut-out "weather pictures" that symbolize weather - a sun for sunny weather, a cloud for cloudy weather, a raindrop for rainy weather, and a snowflake for snowy weather. In still another fishbowl, put cut-out "special day" pictures - cakes for birthdays and stars for special occasions, such as trips, parties, holidays, and plays. Each day, ask the children to help you record news about the day on the calendar, identifying the date and selecting numbers and pictures to mark the date, identifying the weather and selecting pictures to mark the day's weather, and identifying the day's special events and selecting (or perhaps making) pictures to mark the events. Write on the cakes the names of the children having birthdays and on the stars names of special events.

At the end of each month, review the month's weather and events before taking down the numbers and pictures to get ready for the new month.

Measuring Puddles

Go outside after it rains and find a puddle on the playground. Give the children chalk and let them trace the puddle's outline. Ask the children to predict what will happen to the puddle in an hour's time. Record the predictions on an experience chart, go inside for an hour, and then go back outside to see if the predictions have come true. Trace again the puddle's outline with another color chalk. Repeat activity at later activities, if possible. When the puddle is dry, lay different color yarns on the different color chalk lines. Cut the yarn to fit and bring the pieces into the classroom. Compare their lengths and use them to make a puddle on the floor or bulletin board. Give the children colored chalk to make puddle pictures on dark paper. Have them tell and write stories about puddles. Concept to elicit: Puddles shrink and dry ("evaporate") in the sun.

Measuring Shadows

Go outside in the morning on a bright, sunny day, and have the children trace each other's shadows on the playground with chalk. Ask the children to predict what will happen to their shadows in an hour's time. Record the predictions on an experience chart, go inside for an hour, and then go back outside to see if the predictions have come true. Trace again the shadows' outlines with another color chalk. Repeat activity at later activities, if possible. What happens? Concepts to elicit: When the sun shines on you from the side, you have a shadow. The sun rises in the sky during the day. As the sun rises, your shadow shrinks. At noon, the sun is over head and your shadow is the smallest.

On a dark day, make shadow ("silhouette") pictures inside by tracing the children's profiles on dark paper. Create the profile by shining a projector light on them. Have the children cut out their profiles and display. Ask "Can you recognize your profiles?" More shadow activities: make shadow puppets and play Shadow Tag.



Make giant bubbles outside on a sunny day and watch them float in the air. Ask the children, "What colors do you see in the bubbles? What pictures do you see in the bubbles?" (Concept: Bubbles act like lenses and show upside-down pictures.) To make the bubble solution, in a baking pan mix 8 tablespoons liquid dishwashing soap (such as Joy or Ajax) with 1 quart water. (To make better bubbles, add a tablespoon of glycerine, available in pharmacies.) Ahead of time, use a can opener to remove both ends of round tin cans. Make sure there are no sharp metal edges. (You might ask in a parent newsletter for parents to send prepared cans to school with the children. Other things that can be used to make bubbles are sixpack holders, berry baskets, colanders, and pipe cleaners bent in a circle.) To make the bubbles, dip a can into the soap solution. Slowly pull the can out so that a film of soap remains on one end. Gently pull the can through the air or blow into it to make a bubble appear. Twist the can to release the bubble. Explain to the children that making giant bubbles takes practice. Who will be the first to do it? Make small bubbles from commercial bubble holders or holders made from pipe cleaners. Later, draw bubble pictures on paper plates and display them upside-down on the bulletin board.


Give each child a lunch bag to decorate with markers. Fold the open edge of the bag back about one and a half inches. Tape a five-inch piece of kite string to each corner of the bag with strong tape. Join the four strings together with a knot. Attach a long piece of string (about five to six feet) to the knot. To fly the kite, hold the string, let the bag go behind you, and run. Do this on a windy day in an open area away from trees and electrical wires. Concept: Wind power holds kites up in the air.


making a kite



To make a rainbow, stand outside and spray a fine mist from a hose into the air. Ahead of time, ask the children to predict where you should stand to make the best rainbow-with the sun behind you, next to you, or in front of you? Have the children record the results of the experiment with drawings or paintings of rainbows. Ask them "What colors are found in rainbows?" Have them look at photos of rainbows to discover that real rainbows always have their colors in the same order, which is, starting from the inside, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. (These are the same colors that are seen in bubbles and when light passes through a prism.) Make rainbows in class with paint, colored clay, or by pasting yarn on blue paper. Do not insist that the children make their rainbow colors authentic.


Dramatic Improvisation

Help the children improvise movements to go with this poem. Read the poem aloud a few times, and then, reading it line by line, ask them to act out the story. Encourage the children to make up the fantasy together. They may all want to be flowers, or some can be flowers while others dramatize other parts. Together, select music to playas a background to the poem, or use musical instruments to express different parts of the poem.

Nature's Wash Day

Mother Nature had a wash day
And called upon the showers
To bathe the dusty faces
Of the little roadside flowers.
She scrubbed the green grass carpet
Until it shone like new.
She washed the faded dresses
Of the oaks and maples too.
No shady nook or corner
Escaped her searching eye,
And then she sent the friendly sun
To shine and make them dry.

- Author Unknown

Rainbow Garden Song

Make a rainbow garden on a bulletin board by cutting out and pasting seed catalog pictures of flowers in rainbow stripes on a big sheet of paper. Afterward, sing to the tune of "Sing a Song of Sixpence":

Sing a song of rainbows,
In our kindergarten,
We have many colors
Growing in our garden,
Flowers come in all colors
To cheer up you and me,
We put them in a rainbow
For everyone to see.

Wind Song

Outside, on a windy day, find things that are blowing in the wind and sing verses about them to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell."

The wind blows the flag,
The wind blows the flag,
On a very windy day,
The wind blows the flag.

Physical Education

Shadow Tag

Early or late on a sunny day when shadows are long, play shadow tag. Play like regular tag, only to catch someone you have to step on their shadow.

Squirt Gun Bull's-Eye

On a warm, sunny day let children shoot bull's-eyes with squirt guns. Draw the bull's-eyes with chalk on the
ground. Try shooting bubbles too.


Ask the children to tell what they like to do on swings. Read them this poem and put it on a tape for the children to listen to in the listening center. Encourage the children to memorize it and say it to themselves when they are swinging. Review safety rules pertaining to swings, such as Don't jump off and Never run in front or behind the swings because you might get hit.

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside -

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown -
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

- Robert Louis Stevenson


Based on the book THE NEW KINDERGARTEN: Full Day, Child Centered, Academic
A book for teachers, administrators, practice teachers, teacher's aides, and parents
Text © Jean Marzollo 1983-2016, Illustrations © Irene Trivas 1983-2016

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