Storm in the Night


“In the dark, with smells and sounds and lighting-lit sights of the storm all around them, Grandfather tells Thomas a very special story about when he was a boy.”

I must admit I am rather fond of this story.  I love storms, so I was excited to do this “row”.  Plus I just love the relationship between Thomas and his grandfather, and the way they talk about the past.  I had planned on having the boys interview their grandparents as part of this unit study, but we never got to it.  There are plenty of Five in a Row “rows” having to do with grandparents, though, so I’ll save that idea for the future.  We talked a little bit about fears and anxiety, but most of our studies revolved around weather.

Of course we put our story disk on the map…


The book didn’t specify the location, so I just told the boys to pick somewhere in the middle of the country because they get lots of storms.

We read several books about weather and storms…


Water Cycle:

And learned about the water cycle…




(Daddy is typically our main science instructor, whenever he is available.)

Science Center:

We went with our friends to the Science Center.  They have a whole floor/section dedicated to Earth and weather science.

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We did a fun science experiment with daddy that demonstrates how thunderstorms work…

We prepared ahead of time by making blue ice cubes.  Then we filled a clear shoe bin with warm water.

Add a few drops of red food coloring to one side of the warm water (this represents the warm air).

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Add one of the blue ice cubes to the other side of the tub (this represents the cold front).


You can see from the side how the cold water (or air) moves down and pushes the warm water (or air) up and away.

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And here’s a little video of our Thunderstorm experiment…


Inspired by one of our go-along stories, Thundercake by Patricia Polacco, Miss Becky and I decided to get the group together and make our own thundercake!


First we read the story as a group, some of us listening more intently than others.


Then we (and by “we” I mean Becky, her daughter Grace, and I…the other kids had wandered off) made the cake.

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Then we decorated the cake.

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Ta da!  Not only did it look pretty, but it was actually delicious!  This is a big deal because I have a bit of a reputation for totally bombing desserts.  Becky said she had the same reputation, so we were quite pleased with ourselves!



Other than just getting to eat cake, this book also helped to teach the kids how to count the seconds between lighting and thunder to see how far away the storm is.


We also read the book Little Cloud by Eric Carle, and took the opportunity to learn more about clouds.


I found this neat guide that had pictures, along with descriptions, and we used it to determine what kinds of clouds were lingering over our house that day…


It turned out to be a great day for cloud-gazing because the sky was filled in all directions with different types.  We don’t see many cloudy days around here, so this was unique!




The boys painted some sky backgrounds…







And then we added cotton ball clouds…





And last but not least, we did a little experiment that showed how electricity/lightning is formed.



Go into a dark closet with a balloon and a fluorescent lightbulb.


Rub the balloon on your hair while touching it to the lightbulb and the lightbulb will light up just a little bit.


You can’t really see it in the picture above.  That white line in the picture is actually the crack in the door where the hinges are.

The lightbulb does light up a little bit, but you have to get your face away from your camera for 5 seconds in order to see it.  Raphael kept rubbing the balloon on his hair while I watched through my camera waiting for some brilliant light to appear.  I kept waiting and waiting until he finally said “Can you see it yet?”.  Apparently it was there all along I just had to be watching.  🙂

Fun Video:

Magic School Bus Kicks Up A Storm:

Storm Safety:

A lot of people use this unit study as an opportunity to talk about safety during natural disasters or severe weather.  Since we don’t have hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or floods where we live, we didn’t really do those things.  Although we did spin off on a tangent of other safety issues.  To be continued…

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