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Learning Resource Type

Lesson Plan

Forecasting Severe Weather

Subject Area

English Language Arts




This lesson increases student knowledge of severe weather and weather forecasting. It emphasizes the importance of student questioning to obtain information. After the introduction to severe weather is made, students will create their own Tornado in a Bottle, and use this exploration to make further connections.

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): KG


    Ask questions to obtain information about the purpose of weather forecasts in planning for, preparing for, and responding to severe weather.*

    Unpacked Content



    • Weather
    • Forecasting
    • Severe
    • Purpose
    • Obtain Information


    Students know:
    • There are patterns related to local severe weather that can be observed (e.g., certain types of severe weather happen more in certain places).
    • Weather patterns (e.g., some events are more likely to occur in certain regions) help scientist predict severe weather before it happens.
    • Severe weather warnings are used to communicate predictions about severe weather.
    • Weather forecasting can help people plan for, and respond to, specific local weather (e.g., responses: stay indoors during severe weather, go to cooling centers during heat waves; preparations: evacuate coastal areas before a hurricane, cover windows before storms).


    Students are able to:
    • Ask questions based on observations to find more information about the world.
    • Obtain, evaluate and communicate information from observations and grade appropriate text or media.
    • Obtain information to describe patterns in the natural world.


    Students understand that:
    • Severe weather has causes that generate observable patterns.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Asking Questions and Defining Problems

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Cause and Effect

    Primary Learning Objectives

    Students will construct a K-W-L chart to generate questions about severe weather and weather forecasting.

    Students will answers questions related to a connected text to a text.

    Students will construct a Tornado in a Bottle and use it to make observations about a tornado's characteristics.

    Students will utilize knowledge gained during the read-aloud and experiment to describe the purpose of weather forecasts in planning for, preparing for, and responding to severe weather.


    Before Activity

    Students will construct a class K-W-L chart about the chosen severe weather.

    Students will discuss the questions recorded on the chart.

    The teacher will present the chosen text (select one: Freddy the Frogcaster books by Janice Dean: Freddy the Frogcaster, Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard, Freddy the Frogcaster and the Huge Hurricane, Freddy the Frogcaster and the Terrible Tornado)

    Students will examine the K-W-L chart to reevaluate the questions, identifying questions that have been answered.

    Students will create a journal entry, using a starter from the journal prompt list as needed.

    During Activity

    Students and teacher will review safety rules and introduce experiment directions before breaking into small groups and/or passing out materials.

    Students will fill their bottles about 2/3 full of water.

    Students will add a teaspoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of liquid soap to their bottle.

    Students will add a spoonful of confetti to their bottle.

    Students will place the top on their bottle and close it tightly.

    Students will shake or move bottle in a vigorous circular motion to observe movement of the water and confetti.

    Students and teacher will connect this movement to the movement of wind during a tornado.

    After Activity

    Students will add a second entry to their science journal; describing the experiment, relating it to the previously read text and connected questions/answers, and applying it to world and self.

    Students and teacher will discuss their journal entries, with the teacher recording entries in class chart form.

    Assessment Strategies

    • Observe discussion and record anecdotes of student questions and responses during both the reading and exploration activities.
    • Have students write a journal entry for both the reading and exploration activities.
    • Students' journal entries should demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of weather forecasts in planning for, preparing for, and responding to severe weather


    • Students will compose a letter to a local weatherman, requesting a visit or video conference with the class.
    • Students will pick a type of severe weather, research it, and prepare a slideshow presentation to share the information.
    • Students will pick a type of severe weather and create a related safety plan or set of safety rules for the classroom.


    • Students will be given a word bank or picture cards for written activities.
    • Students will be allowed to use words, phrases, and pictures to record their thinking.
    • Students will be allowed to complete their journal with a partner or in small group with the teacher.

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    31 to 60 Minutes

    Background and Preparation


    • Students should have basic weather knowledge.
    • Classroom routines for listening, speaking, and asking questions should be in place.
    • If more background knowledge is needed, the teacher should use the background links listed in technology and have students create a class list of weather words.
    • The teacher will choose a type of severe weather before the lesson. This can be done using local weather patterns or the chosen text.
    • The teacher should have the bottles already filled 1/2 - 2/3 full of water before the lesson or should draw a fill line on the bottles for the students.

    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources

    • chart paper
    • Post-its
    • pencils, crayons, markers
    • student journals
    • Freddy the Frogcaster books by Janice Dean: Freddy the Frogcaster, Freddy the Frogcaster and the Big Blizzard, Freddy the Frogcaster and the Huge Hurricane, Freddy the Frogcaster and the Terrible Tornado
    • Journal Prompt List

    Each student/group will need: 

    • plastic water bottle (empty with label removed)
    • teaspoon of liquid soap
    • teaspoon of vinegar
    • spoonful of metallic confetti (optional: represents debris)
    • water
    • funnel

    Technology Resources Needed

    A computer with internet connection, along with a viewing screen and document camera will be needed.

    Link for read aloud: Freddy the Frogcaster and the Huge Hurricane
    Background Links:

    Weather Wiz Kids

    Sky Diary: Kidstorm

    National Geographic Kids: Weather Video Playlist