Weather Wonders: A Book-Based STEAM Adventure!

Our STEAM-focused summer and out-of-school-time program is all about weather and climate, in your community and around the world.

How does a tornado form? What makes lightning? How do people predict the weather? What can kids do to prepare for extreme weather and fight climate change?

Dive deep into weather! Make your own weather station, explore extreme weather, make weather-inspired art, celebrate weather and community! Understand how climate impacts your community and the world and make a plan to help.

Collage of images related to weather and climate studies with kids

Weather Wonders gives kids a chance to learn all about weather — how clouds form, why we have seasons, how we measure rain and wind, why we have tornadoes, blizzards, and hurricanes by taking weather walks, making meteorological instruments, keeping a journal to track weather changes, focusing on weather and climate in their own community, and even doing weather yoga! The Weather Wonders toolkit also lets kids deepen their understanding of climate change and take action to stop it.

Weather Wonders combines hands-on activities with great fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and picture book biographies — books such as Thunder Cake, The Tornado Scientist, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, Weather: Poems for All Seasons, Science Comics: Wild Weather, and Al Roker’s Extreme Weather — inspiring kids to read about weather, how it happens, how we study it, and how it impacts our lives — whether in their own neighborhoods or in countries far away.

Our free, 5-day toolkit for educators, summer program leaders, and parents includes dozens of carefully chosen fiction and nonfiction books, hands-on activities, writing ideas, and apps and websites to deepen a child's learning.

Join us ... to explore, read, write, play, invent, and learn — all about weather and climate.

Here’s what kids will learn about, day by day

  • Day 1: Weather, Seasons, and Climate
  • Day 2: Atmospheric Science
  • Day 3: Extreme Weather
  • Day 4: STEAM-y Weather
  • Day 5: Weather Brings Us Together

A 5-day program that fits your schedule!

Weather Wonders is adaptable! Use the materials each day for five days in a row, or once a week for five weeks (or any other way you like) to add hands-on learning to your summer programming. The materials are designed for elementary-aged children, but can be adapted for older or younger kids.

Get your free Weather Wonders toolkit

The toolkit includes 5 topics for exploration through fiction and nonfiction books, hands-on activities, new vocabulary, and fun writing prompts. Each topic also includes recommendations for kid-friendly digital media — websites, podcasts, apps, and video. In the Appendix you'll find a list of weather words, and printable templates for Weather Wonders name tags, journal covers, and certificates.

Complete Toolkit

Download and print the PDF.

Day by day

If you want to choose individual sections of the Weather Wonders toolkit, just select any of the links below to download and print a PDF.

Note: Be sure to view and print from Adobe Reader (or an alternative PDF reader), not your web browser.

Getting ready: tips for using the Weather Wonders toolkit

  • You’ll find an introduction to the concepts covered and recommended books for each day, as well as a list of questions to guide explorations and experiments, and a list of weather words that kids might not be familiar with.
  • Start by gathering books from the list provided from your library.
  • Choose fiction and nonfiction books from the list provided.
  • Read them through before you read them to the kids so you know what happens, and can spot any unfamiliar words or concepts you’ll need to explain. Also, look for places to ask questions while you're reading to engage listeners.
  • Think about which other parts of the program you’d like to do after reading the book(s).
  • An activity is always a good idea, but you may also want to include writing, exploring related websites and apps, and going on a field trip, too.

Learning with the kids

  • Introduce the theme for the day and ask kids what they know about it.
  • Read one or more of the books aloud and ask questions. Listen carefully to the kids’ answers. By reading to them and asking questions, you’ll get them thinking about the topic, and what they want to learn. You’ll also increase their understanding and excitement. Read another book and repeat.
  • Choose a hands-on activity to let kids explore theme. By doing an activity, the kids get to use the concepts and new words they have learned.
  • Look for a local connection. How can you connect the ideas in the books or the activities with the kids’ personal experience?
  • Keep asking questions throughout and listening carefully to the kids’ answers.
  • Encourage kids to write about what they are learning or curious about by using one of the writing prompts in the toolkit.
  • Provide access to books about the topic for kids to look at on their own.
  • Show kids websites and apps that they can use to learn more about the topic and give kids time to try them out.
  • Take a field trip to further explore your topic for the day or theme for the week.

You can choose any of the components, all of them, or just one or two, but we recommend that you always Start With a Book!

Weather Wonders toolkit authors

Rachael Walker
Rachael has more than 30 years of experience developing partnerships with nonprofit organizations, corporations, and public agencies to benefit children and families. She launches national campaigns, coordinates special events, and develops original content for the National Education Association, Random House Children’s Books, PBS, and WETA’s Learning Media initiatives (Reading Rockets, Colorín Colorado, and Visit Rachael at Belle of the Book.

Eileen Hanning
Eileen Hanning, M.Ed., has more than 20 years of experience designing reading curriculum for underserved kids and training for their parents and social service providers about reading and child development. Her passion for children’s books and hands-on learning has lead her to review children’s books, learn, research and write about education, child development and toxic stress, and to create her own consulting company, ReadLearnReach, where she serves a variety of clients with their curriculum, training, children’s book, and writing needs. She has developed curriculum for Random House, WETA, Reading Is Fundamental, the Girl Scouts of America, and Red Comet Press, and researched and written white papers for Tales2Go and Girls on the Run of Northern Virginia.

Ron Gird (expert reviewer)
Ron is a retired Meteorologist and Outreach Program Manager with the National Weather Service. He has served as a consultant to Plan!TNOW, Time/Life Books, the American Meteorological Society, the National Geographic Society, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Previous assignments included work with the NOAA Satellite Program, NWS Satellite and Spaceflight Programs, the NWS Storms Prediction Center, and The Analytical Sciences Corporation (TASC). He currently serves on the STEM Advisory Council for the Children’s Science Center. Ron received his B.S. in meteorology from the Pennsylvania State University and he continues to support Penn State by serving on several advisory committees.