13 Mar 2001,
Everyone talks about the weather but you can help the children do something about it. Kymm Strelley explains how she did
While studying for my Diploma in Nursery Nursing, I designed and made a weather board as part of my coursework. The end result was a real hit with both the teacher and children and was used daily at my placement school.
I made the board while at Borrow Wood Infant School in Derby. The teacher there had wanted a weather board for some time but, at about 30, had found them too expensive to buy. So, with a budget of 12, magazine cuttings, scraps of felt, a cork board and lots of ingenuity, I set about my task. It took three weeks to complete.
I started by painting the board bright blue, then creating a thick border of pictures from magazines, old books and greeting cards, covered with sticky-backed plastic to make them more durable. Each side represented a different season.
Next I stapled into place an inner border of Velcro and stuck to it umbrellas, snowmen, clouds and other seasonal symbols, each with a piece of Velcro stitched on the back.
I then made information cards such as 'Today is', 'Yesterday was', 'The date is', 'The weather is', which I attached to the board with Velcro, and I made a fabric pocket to hold the symbols that were not in use for that day. When I produced the finished article, the teacher was delighted and immediately pressed it in to service with her Year 1 class.
The board was used in a weather project and was linked to four areas of play - manipulative play, imaginative play, physical play and constructive play. For example, the class built weather machines, re-enacted a windy day in PE and helped make some of the weather symbols, copied from newspaper reports.
The symbols encouraged the children to become more observant of their surroundings and made them more aware of TV weather reports because they could now understand what different kinds of weather the symbols represented.
Every morning, after registration, while the children were sitting together, the class discussed the date, day and weather and took turns to change the information. This daily routine encouraged all the children to participate and to draw conclusions as a group as opposed to individually. Children like to know everything, so they tended to ask a lot of questions, which led to further discussions.
It was interesting to see which symbols they associated with the seasons. For example, they associated a caterpillar with the summer because that is what they had seen while outside.
Weather boards are a valuable educational aid which the children can use every day, as is evident in Borrow Wood Infant School. They are fun and cheap to produce, bright, durable, unique to the setting and can be adapted to suit any age group and ability. I would definitely recommend them.
Kymm Strelley, now an education care officer in a Derbyshire primary school, spoke to Mahrukh Choughtai