Now That's Extreme!

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SWBAT identify the extreme weather conditions of: tsunami, hurricane, tornado and Arizona monsoons.

Big Idea

Some kids like those in Phoenix experience an occasional monsoon. This lesson exposes them to extreme weather conditions from all over the globe.


10 minutes

To begin this lesson, I call the kids one table at a time to come sit on the floor like scientists. This means that they are sitting quietly with their hands in their laps ready to listen and learn. 

Since we live in a desert, I begin by asking the kids to raise their hands if they know what a monsoon is. I ask this because that is the form of extreme weather that we experience here in the Sonoran desert. About half of my students raise their hand. I ask three of the kids to share their monsoon experience with the whole class so other kids can get an understanding or so they can have the term "monsoon" linked to a concept they know, but don't know the name for.

After the kids have shared, I have the kids think silently of a time that experienced a monsoon or a really bad thunderstorm. After 20 seconds of silent thinking, I have them turn to their talking partners and share their most vivid memory of a thunderstorm/monsoon. This requires every child to participate and allows every student to be heard while respecting class time. 

Once the kids have shared with their floor partners, I pull three names from the name stick can and ask those kids to share their memories with the whole class. By this time, the kids are starting to understand and connect to the concept of a monsoon.


15 minutes

The kids remain seated on the floor. The exploration for this lesson is done through Youtube video. I show the kids a video of a variety of extreme weather conditions. We stop at each one to have a quick discussion of what they see. I restrict the discussions to two or three kids commenting or asking a question encourage curiosity, yet respect class time.

This video is live footage of recent extreme weather conditions around the world. The type of weather system is labeled on each clip:

Once we have finished viewing and discussing the video, I hold up cards that picture weather systems and ask them which weather system they think each picture represents. This builds visual literacy as well as scientific understanding of weather concepts.


10 minutes

The kids remain seated on the floor as I explain and demonstrate the evaluation of this lesson. It is a cut and paste matching using the same illustrations that I showed the kids in the previous section. I use the exact same illustrations, although shrunken down to fit the cut and paste page, because kids this young are very concrete thinkers. They can get thrown off by one simple variation, and believe me, they notice them all!

After the demonstration and explanation, I call the table leaders up one at a time to take enough pages to their tables for everyone. I then dismiss one team at a time to go sit at their tables and get to work.

I roam the room and ask kids to explain where they are placing the illustrations and how they know that is the correct place. Most of the kids can explain that a monsoon comes down, a tornado is like a tunnel and a hurricane is like a giant blender. 

Once all the kids are finished with their work, we gather back on the floor to share our completed pages with our floor partners. To close this part of the lesson, I pull three random name sticks from the name stick can and have one at time come up to sit in the teacher chair to share their finished work with the whole class. This allows everyone to share out, but respects class time by having only three kids share with the whole class to close the lesson.


10 minutes

The extension of this lesson is a mini take-home reader. We gather on the carpet and go over it together. The reader is written in the same pattern as our reading core take home readers so they support the reading targets in our district. 

Procedure to introduce readers:

  1. The kids track with their finger as the I read the text. They only use their eyes to connect to the text; they do not read yet.
  2. The kids read with me as I read the text and they track the words with their finger.
  3. The kids read out loud as they track the words with their finger.
  4. The kids turn to their floor partner and take turns reading the pages of the mini-book.

By the time the kids have heard and read the mini-book four times, they are prepared to take them home and read them with their families.