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How Weather Impacts Farms

Grade Levels

3 - 5

Purpose

Students explore different types of weather and discover how weather conditions can impact farms. Grades 3-5

Estimated Time

2 hours

Materials Needed

Interest Approach — Engagement:

  • Thunderstorm by Arthur Geisert

Activity 1: Meteorology

Activity 2: Weather Station

Activity 3: How Weather Impacts Farms

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
Vocabulary Words

atmosphere: a layer of gas or layers of gases that surround the Earth or another planet

climate: the prevailing weather conditions in a specific area over a long period of time

forecast: a prediction or estimate of future events

meteorologist: scientist who studies weather patterns and forecasts the weather

weather: the state of the atmosphere at a given place and time in regards to heat, dryness, sunshine, wind, rain, etc.

Did You Know? (Ag Facts)
  • The largest hailstone ever measured in the United States was 8 inches in diameter and was found in Vivian, South Dakota on July 23, 2010. It was also the nation's heaviest at 1.94 pounds.1
  • The highest temperature ever registered on earth is 134.1°F, recorded on July 10, 1913 at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley, California.2 
  • On May 11, 1894 in Borina, Mississippi, an 8-inch gopher turtle was found encased in a hailstone. Scientists believe the winds and whirls carried heavy objects from the earth's surface up to the clouds, where they were encased in successive layers of snow and ice.3
Background Agricultural Connections

Weather describes the state of the atmosphere, the thick blanket of air surrounding the Earth, at a certain place and time.4 Weather is caused by heat, water, and air. Temperature, the amount and type of moisture in the air, and the strength of the wind are different components of the weather. The average weather pattern in a location over several decades is called climate. Climates differ depending on the region of the world.

Severe weather events such as floods, extreme cold or heat, intense winds, hail, or tornadoes can negatively impact farms and ranches. The USDA estimates that 90% of crop losses are relate to extreme weather.5 Weather forecasts predict what the weather will be on a particular day and can help farmers and ranchers know what to expect and plan for extreme weather. Severe weather warnings can help farmers prevent damage to crops, animals, and properties. 

Meteorologists are scientists who study weather patterns and forecast the weather by observing air temperature, wind direction, humidity, wind speeds, clouds, precipitation, visibility, and atmospheric pressure. Weather instruments, such as thermometers, weather vanes, wind socks, rain gauges, barometers, hygrometers, radars, satellites, and weather balloons, are used to record the weather.

Interest Approach - Engagement
  1. Show the class the pages of Thunderstorm by Arthur Geisert. Because this book does not have text, have the students discuss their observations and interpretations of the illustrations.
  2. Ask the students, "How did weather affect the farming community in the book?"
  3. Explain to the students that they will be exploring different types of weather and how weather conditions can affect farms.
Procedures

Activity 1: Meteorology

  1. Show the Kindergarten Weather Report video. 
  2. Ask the students if they have ever watched a real weather report. Ask, "What information is needed to forecast the weather? How do we get that information?"
  3. Use the Meteorology Slideshow to explain the jobs of meteorologists and weather reporters and explore the tools used to record the weather.
  4. Ask the students, "Why is it important to forecast weather?" (It helps people to be prepared and know what to expect.)
  5. Have the students create a class list of different types of weather (rain, snow, thunder, lightning, etc.). Write their ideas on chart paper.
  6. Read the book Weather Words and What They Mean by Gail Gibbons. Add additional types of weather to the class list.

Activity 2: Weather Station

  1. Explain to the students that they will create a school weather station and document the daily weather conditions.
  2. Organize the students into six groups. Assign each group a weather instrument and provide them with the NOAA Weather Station Instruction Sheet and materials needed to make their instrument:
    • Anemometer: An anemometer measures wind speed.
    • Weather vane: A weather vane determines wind direction
    • Barometer: A barometer measures atmospheric pressure.
    • Thermometer: A thermometer measures air temperature.
    • Hygrometer: A hygrometer measures humidity.
    • Rain Gauge: A rain gauge measures rainfall.  
  3. After setting up the weather station, have the students make daily weather observations in their Weather Journal.

Activity 3: How Weather Impacts Farms

  1. Using the weather list from Activity 1, ask the students, "Which are examples of severe weather?" 
  2. Have the students consider how weather conditions can affect farms.
  3. Organize the students into six groups. Assign each group a type of severe weather and provide them with a Severe Weather Information Sheet that correlates with their assigned type of weather. Have the groups go through the reading, watch the weather video, and create a weather report to warn farmers and ranchers about the weather event. 
  4. Weather reports can be performed live for the class or recorded. The report should describe the weather event, what to expect, and how farmers can prepare.
  5. Allow time for the groups to share their weather reports with the class.
  6. Discuss the impacts of weather to farms and how detailed forecasting can help farmers know what to expect and prepare for severe weather. 
Enriching Activities
  • Compare the weather at your school to weather in different regions of the country or world. 

  • Have the students research severe weather safety tips and make posters to hang up around the school to address severe weather events that could occur in their area. Refer to the following websites for information:

Author

Lynn Wallin

Organization Affiliation

National Center for Agricultural Literacy

Powered by the National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix (agclassroom.org)