Measuring aspects of the weather is a fun and exciting way to teach children about scientific tools, temperature, precipitation, and wind. By using items available around the house or at a supermarket, kids can create their own weather instruments to gauge temperature, rainfall, and wind direction. Building and using these instruments will help them feel confident in their own abilities to create ways to investigate the world around them.
Make a thermometer. A thermometer measures the temperature of the air. To create a thermometer, pour 1/8 cup of rubbing alcohol and 1/8 cup of water into a plastic bottle. Select a colour of food colouring, and squeeze three to four drops into the bottle. Insert a clear straw into the bottle, keeping it one inch above the bottom of the bottle. Use an oil-based clay to close up the top of the bottle, while securing the straw in place at the same time. When the temperature rises, the coloured mixture will rise up inside the straw. When the temperature lowers, the mixture will go back down.
Make a rain gauge. A rain gauge measures how much rainfall there is in a particular area. Locate an area along a fence post that is out in the open. Nail a piece of wood to the fence post so that it rests parallel to the ground. Place a glass beaker onto the piece of wood, securing it to the fence by tying it down with a piece of yarn. Mark the side of the beaker using a waterproof marker every 1/4 inch. Once the rain falls, it will fill the beaker, marking how much rain has fallen during a period of time.
Make a weather vane. A weather vane measures which way the wind is blowing. Using a ruler, draw perpendicular lines on two different paper plates. On one plate, write the cardinal direction at each point draw: "N" for North, "E" for East, "S" for South, and "W" for West. Push a pencil into the middle of the plate. On the other plate, push a piece of oil-based clay into the middle of the plate. Surround the clay with a few stones, then place the first plate on top of the second. Tape them together. Stick a blunt pencil down into the plates, eraser side up, making sure that it is secure in the clay. Using scissors, cut into each end of a plastic straw. Use the scissors to cut out two triangles from construction paper, and slide one into each end of the straw. Attach the middle of the straw to the eraser of the pencil using a straight pin. Use a compass to determine which way North is, and face the place so that the "N" is facing North. When the wind blows, it will face the direction in which it is blowing.