Friday, November 11, 2011

Times: They are a’ Changin (The Seasons)

Observing weather in the fall season.

I will easily admit that today’s preschool scientist activity isn’t quite as fun as eating a chocolate “rock”.  It is, however, something that is very much on the mind of my preschoolers.  Especially since the time change last week they have been quite curious about why it is now dark by dinner time, when in the summer they went to bed while it was still light outside.  I came up with the following printable to be very child friendly and allow preschoolers to record their observations about how the temperatures and weather are changing.  I also had my kids tell me when they first thought it was dark outside and I wrote that down for them.  For those of you who have kids who never stop asking why, I am also including a link to an easy demonstration for the “Why” of the seasonal change.  This activity would be most effective if you keep your child’s season observation record to compare throughout the year.  (You can easily scan it and keep a digital copy if you don’t want to keep the papers for the entire year). 

Parent Background Guide

The seasons are a very complicated topic, confusing for both children and adults.  Many people incorrectly believe that because the Earth rotates around the sun in an eclipse (or oval) shaped orbit, that our summer is when we are closer to the sun and winter is when we are further away.  The truth is actually the opposite for the Northern Hemisphere which is closest to the sun in the beginning of January.  Earth’s tilt on is axis is the true reason that we have seasons.  Because we are tilted towards or away from the sun we have days that vary in length throughout the year.  The simplest way of understanding the seasons is that when we are tilted towards the sun in the summer the Northern Hemisphere receives more hours of light and is therefore warmer than in the winter when it has a shorter daylight period.  It is actually much more complicated and you can read more about it here.

This week’s activity

Weather Observation Printable

Download full size at
1.       Pick a time each day for your child to observe the weather (we chose lunchtime).
2.      Have your child choose which weather symbol (or symbols) to circle and which clothing most represents what they would want to wear outside. 
3.      When your child first notices that it is dark write down the time.  This will probably be a bit inaccurate, but will show the major trend throughout the seasons.
4.      Help your child record their observations for 1-2 weeks.
5.      Scan or keep the record for comparing in the Winter, Spring, and Summer.

Seasons Demonstration
Round Object or Globe
Light Source

This activity may or may not make sense to your preschool kids.  I have not yet used it with mine although I can see myself doing it in the near future.    A full understanding will likely not be reached until middle school where abstract learning becomes more achievable.  However, introducing the idea of earth’s tilt is something that can help our little enquiring minds get some ideas about how the seasons work.


  1. I would have loved this when I taught Kindergarten but my 5 year old will love it too. Would you link it up to my party?

  2. Absolutely, anything for a blog involving chocolate. I am a serious chocoholic. It will take a couple of days for me to figure out a link back - that's on my to do list for later this week.

    I hope you and your 5 year old will enjoy the activity. My kids liked that they could fill it out on their own - even my non-writer. Thanks for visiting!