Weather activities with Night of the Twisters
While reading the novel Night of the Twisters, students will complete activities related to weather concepts described in the story. Students will complete activities which explore the key concepts of cloud formation, air pressure, and local weather patterns.
A lesson plan for grade 5 Science
- identify the characteristics of cumulus, stratus, and cirrus clouds. They will also identify the type of weather that each type of cloud indicates. They will display this information on a cloud chart.
- create a simple barometer to measure air pressure and predict fair and stormy weather.
- measure and graph daily temperatures and rainfall for one month.
Time required for lesson
- Student copies of the novel Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman
- Cotton balls
- Blue construction paper
- Quart-size Mason jars (one for each student is preferable, but students may share if necessary)
- Plastic straws
- 4″ x 6″ index cards
- Outdoor rain gauge
- Outdoor thermometer
- Graph paper
A computer with Internet access would be nice for extending the activities or researching related topics, but it is not a necessity.
- Students will read the novel Night of the Twisters (as these activities will integrate science with reading, the science activities and novel reading will run concurrently).
- Students will relate and discuss prior experience with weather phenomena.
Students will create depictions of cumulus, cirrus, and stratus clouds. They will use cotton balls to make each type of cloud and glue the clouds onto a sheet of blue construction paper. Students will label each type of cloud, and list the weather that each type of cloud indicates.
Making a Barometer
Students will create a simple barometer with a Mason jar.
- Cut the balloon just above where the neck ends. Stretch the balloon tightly over the lid of the jar.
- Lay the straw on top of the balloon so that about two-thirds of the straw sticks out beyond the edge of the jar. Attach the straw to the balloon with tape.
- Tape a toothpick to the end of the straw to serve as a “pointer.”
- Turn the index card vertically; write “HIGHER” at the top and “LOWER” at the bottom. Tape the card to the wall beside the jar.
- As air pressure increases, the straw will point up. As pressure decreases, the straw will point down. Students should monitor their barometers each day and predict which type of weather the air pressure indicates (fair or stormy). Higher pressure typically indicates fair weather, while low pressure typically indicates stormy or inclement weather.
Measuring and Graphing Daily Temperatures
Students will measure daily morning (8:00 am) and afternoon (1:00 pm) temperatures, and graph them on either a double bar graph or double line graph.
Measuring and Graphing Daily Rainfall
Students will measure and graph rainfall each day. Students may create a bar graph, line graph, or pictograph to display this information.
Teacher will assess each activity according to the following criteria:
- Activity 1:
- have correct representions cumulus, cirrus, and stratus clouds, which are neatly labeled.
- include correct information on the type of weather that each cloud indicates (cumulus clouds which do not grow indicate a fine, sunny day; however, cumulus clouds that grow and begin to fill the sky may indicate rain; cirrus clouds often indicate cool, dry weather when high in the sky; stratus clouds indicate wet or possibly stormy weather).
- Activity 2:
- Student-made barometers must be able to show air pressure changes as pressure rises and falls.
- Activity 3:
- Student temperature graphs must correctly display daily temperature changes for each school day over the course of the month. Either a double bar graph or double line graph must be used to show this information.
- Activity 4:
- Student rainfall graphs must correctly display daily rainfall amounts for each school day over the course of the month. This information must be displayed in either a bar graph, line graph, or pictograph.
The cloud depictions must:
Ruckman, Ivy. Night of the Twisters. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1986.
North Carolina curriculum alignment
- Goal 3: The learner will conduct investigations and use appropriate technology to build an understanding of weather and climate.
- North Carolina Essential Standards
- Science (2010)
- 5.E.1 Understand weather patterns and phenomena, making connections to the weather in a particular place and time. 5.E.1.1 Compare daily and seasonal changes in weather conditions (including wind speed and direction, precipitation, and temperature) and patterns....
- Science (2010)