Tornadoes and Extreme Storms

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Students learn what causes a tornado by creating a tornado in a bottle.

Big Idea

Kindergarteners gather evidence from investigating a tornado model to use in an explanation!


10 minutes

I ask students to sit at their seats to watch a video about extreme weather and storms.

I choose to do this lesson and fun activity as the last one to wrap up the unit. Students tend to get excited and little wound up with this lesson. There are a lot of "oohs and aahs" while watching the video.

There are many videos available to show students about extreme weather and storms. The video that I choose to show my students is not a cartoon. I show them real footage but it is from Bill Nye the Science Guy. I think that it is important when teaching science to show students the real thing.  Especially, since we live in an area that does not have these types of storms and many of these students will never experience these extreme weather situations.  


15 minutes

After watching the video, I explain to students that we are going to make a tornado in a bottle. It may be necessary to go back to the tornado in the video to remind them of what a tornado is.

On each table, I place a tornado bottle. 

Tornado bottles are made using two, 2-liter empty soda bottles, a tube connector, and water.  They are very easy to make. See the directions here:


I model for the students how to make the tornado work. It will be tough for some but I encourage each student to try. They take turns and have fun with the tornado for several minutes. During this time, I walk around to help those who have a hard time swirling the bottle.

This is an example of a model that students can manipulate to help them understand what happens during a tornado. 


10 minutes

After allowing the students to have several turns making the tornado, I pass out the science journals to the tables.

I ask students to open to the next blank page and to begin drawing a picture of a tornado or another "extreme storm" that they saw in the video. I ask them to explain how the tornado is formed to a partner when they have completed their picture. I remind them to use evidence from the video and the model that explored during the investigation.