In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb


Weather folklore is the source of many cool sayings. This one tells us that, though March begins with rough weather, it will be mild and pleasant by the end of the month. This seems like an encouraging reminder that spring is on the way.

Some reverse the saying, though, to mean that if March starts with mild weather, there will be more bad weather before the end of the month. That is, whichever type of weather March begins with, it will end with the opposite. This sounds more like Murphy’s Law than like meteorological wisdom.

Find out whether there’s any virtue to the saying,and practice science process skills at the same time.

Use lion and lamb stickers on your calendar chart to keep track. Here where I live, we’ve had several lamb-like days and a lion-ish one, so we would put lamb stickers on those nice spring days and have a lion sticker for that stormy day. Keep track all month and then use the math skills you’re working on (counting, adding, percents, ratios…) to analyze the weather and decide whether the saying was true for your area.

Use the saying to study similes, too. Have students draw pictures of weather that is like a lion, and weather that is like a lamb. What if March came in like a deer or a giraffe or a whale? What would that look like?

This saying may have its origins in constellations, not weather. Here is a cartoon that explains the saying in terms of the positions of stars in the sky. I’m not convinced (this explanation doesn’t work with the similes, nor does it seem to me to match up geographically), but I haven’t been able to find a definitive earliest citation for the saying, either. If it fits your plans for this semester’s science lessons, use it as a springboard for a study of constellations.

Perhaps you don’t want to take the saying seriously, but would prefer just to enjoy the lions and lambs. Here are some links for the purpose:

  • The Agreeable Sheep is a tour de force of paper engineering, suited to lessons in physical science or very detail-oriented people.It’s a fairly large PDF file.
  • Here is Jan Brett’s lion coloring page.
  • Make lion headdresses with Pacon’s directionsHere is the lamb, too. Divide the class into lions and lambs for a spelling or ciphering bee.
  • Make paper bag puppets. Use cotton balls for the sheep and paper shreds or yarn for the lion’s mane.
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