1. Working in groups to explore the weather
There are many beliefs, poems and rhymes about the weather in different parts of the world, including Africa. Using these as a starting point to explore weather will stimulate your pupils’ interest in observing the local weather and encourage them to be more sensitive and responsive to the changes in their natural environment. For example, in Nigeria, the Yoruba people are said to have believed that lightning was a storm spirit who carried powerful magic. That spirit scolded them with fiery bolts of light shot from his mouth. Case Study 1 shows one way of using local sayings with your pupils.
When teaching about the weather, you have a rich resource outside the classroom. By asking your pupils to collect weather data and look for patterns in the data in Activity 1, you will be encouraging them to develop their skills of observation.
Case Study 1: Using folklore to discuss the weather
Mrs Ogun from Abeokuta in Nigeria wanted to teach her pupils about the weather and decided to begin by asking them to tell her what they already knew. The day before she started the topic, she asked her pupils to ask their families and carers for any rhymes and poems they knew about the weather and bring them to school.
The next day, she asked two or three pupils to recite or sing the rhymes they had found. She also wrote on the chalkboard a few folklores about the weather from other parts of Africa (see Resource 1: African folklore relating to weather, which includes the scientific explanation) and discussed the meaning of them, but not the scientific explanation.
Next, she asked why they thought there were so many different folklores about the weather. Her pupils suggested that people long ago did not understand why the weather changed and so created folklores to explain them;
Mrs Ogun asked the class why they thought it was necessary to understand weather patterns. They suggested the following ideas, which she wrote on the board:
- To know what clothes to wear.
- For farmers to know weather patterns, so they could plant their seeds, and harvest at the right times of the year.
- To plan for any disasters that might occur as a result of bad weather.
She asked the class to work in groups of six and, using any one of the ideas on the chalkboard, to create a little story or folklore about the weather. Some pupils wrote their stories and others decided to act them for the rest of the class.
Activity 1: Weather charts, forecasting and change
- Ask each pupil to record daily (twice a day) weather observations for five consecutive days for temperature, sky conditions, rainfall and wind speed. (See Resource 2: A weather observation chart.) Pupils will need to spend between five and ten minutes at the same time each day outside making these observations on their charts. With younger pupils, you may want to give them some words to help them describe the weather e.g. strong wind, breeze, calm.
- Show your pupils how to read a thermometer to record temperature. (If you do not have a thermometer, ask them to estimate the weather, e.g. very hot, warm, etc.)
- At the end of the week, ask them to work in groups of six and compare the data collected. How much do they agree? Are there any variations? If so, why do they think this is? (See Key Resource: Using group work in your classroom.)
- Next, ask them to predict the weather for the following week and record their predictions for display in the classroom. Ask them to include reasons for their predictions.
- Record the next week’s weather as before.
- At the end of the week, review the actual weather against their predictions. Discuss with them how accurate they were and how they could make their predictions more accurate.