Christina Rossetti wrote, “Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I,” but understanding the wind is essential to understanding weather. March is a traditional time to study about the wind.
With young children, kites and other wind-powered toys are a great way to introduce the topic.
Here are some links about wind-powered toys, including kites:
- Here is a PDF file of tiny wind-powered boats from The Toymaker to color and cut out.
- Here, from the same source, a PDF file for two “whirlycopters.”
- A kit of kite printables includes a spring-themed glyph (the response sheet could be used as a graphic organizer, too), journal page, and more.
- Our Kite Classroom Theme has lots of background info and resources.
- Instructions on how to make a kite bring your lesson from the ordinary to the sublime!
Here are some lessons examining the very basics of wind:
- Wind is moving air, and this lesson leads young students to examine how air moves and what objects can be moved by wind. A PDF worksheet is available.
- Wind is caused by variations in temperature. A fact sheet with lots of diagrams can help explain that, and the University of Michigan’s wind demonstration gives students hands-on opportunities for observation and application. There’s a song, too.
- Wind is also affected by the rotation of the earth. Here is a simple hands-on experience from NASA to clarify this. Here is a more complicated one.
- Background information for the teacher so you can refresh your memory on Hadley Cells and the Coriolis Effect before providing any misinformation during these experiments.
Wind isn’t just for play. Here are some lessons focusing on other, more serious aspects of our relationship with the wind:
- The wind carries seeds. Here is a PDF file with photographs illustrating the various shapes of seeds and the mechanisms they use for wind travel. This is a great lesson on adaptations. Here is an experiment on the subject.
- The wind also carries disease, including tuberculosis, chickenpox, flu, and other airborne diseases. From the point of view of the bacteria, this is the same as the wind carrying seeds: reproduction and survival being helped along by wind power. For us, it is a different topic entirely. Give one student a bubble pipe and have him or her blow bubbles into the classroom. Each student touched by a bubble gets a bubble pipe and continues the dramatization. This shows how quickly and easily airborne disease can spread. Follow the experience with a group handwashing and a good scrubdown of the desks or tables. With older students, learn about the miasma theory of disease, and the difference between a miasma and airborne disease. There is an Arkansas history connection here — not realizing that mosquitoes were the disease vector for malaria (literally, “bad air”), early European residents of Arkansas believed that the air in the delta was unwholesome and caused diseases. Discuss how this might have affected the process of colonization in Arkansas. Did your state face this or similar problems?
- Wind is a source of energy. From very early times, people have used wind power for travel. The Junkyard Wars lesson uses “land yachts” to explore some of the concepts involved in using wind in this way. We like the fact that the assessment rubric includes how cooperatively groups work, and whether they sought help when they needed it.
- A PBS lesson on wind power includes building model turbines.
- Wind can be useful to us, but it can also be very destructive. A Discovery Education lesson on hurricanes gives hands-on experience with the mechanism leading to hurricanes.
- A National Geographic Xpeditions lesson plan combines critical thinking with research skills and creative writing — an excellent culminating activity for upper elementary or middle school students.
Wind has long inspired literature. Depending on grade level, you might want to set out some of these windy tales for reading time:
- The Wind Blew, by Pat Hutchins
- Like a Windy Day, by Frank Asch
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind , by Suzanne Fisher Staples
- A Wind in the Door, by Madeleine L’Engle
- Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
- The North Wind and the Sun a fable from Aesop, makes an interesting point. Try it as Reader’s Theater.
- Weather Watch: Wind from TCR has lots for young students.
Here is the Rossetti poem referenced at the beginning of this post, with comprehension questions that will fit nicely with your science lessons.