Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tis the Season... wait, which season?

Weather and seasons are usually a big part of Kindergarten learning. Teachers don’t talk about the ins and outs of how and why, of course, but acknowledging the (usually) ever-changing conditions outside the window and dressing a little bear in appropriate clothes for the weather during calendar time are essential.

The typical Kindergartener will sit on their carpet square listening to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and talk about how, while we don’t have food falling from the sky, we do have lots of kinds of weather.

The End.
This routine works really well when kids are living in one country and staying there. But this term, with 2 American students and 1 Australian/American planning to return to Australia, all living near the Equator, it gets a bit more tricky. I never bothered doing a dress-the-weather-bear bulletin board - he'd wear the same thing every day! The big question of the day during calendar time is whether it's sunny, cloudy, or partly cloudy - and we've had to add on to our weather chart this term thanks to the abundance of sunny days! (We opted to use the "snowy" category, with "warm" colors, to catch all the extra days...)

But then, last week, we came to the calendar/seasons unit in our math books. I could have had each kid do one set of seasons, but after a unit on the Solar System and talking about hemispheres anyway, I wanted to bring in the various dimensions of the world’s weather. These kids know more about time zones (we talk to grandma as she goes to bed and we wake up) than many middle schoolers in the States, so I figured we may as well keep going with our world-view-perspective!

I pulled out the A3 Paper (big pieces, for those of you Americans who don’t know what it is) and taped two together. We got to practice capitalizing names of months and using rulers (quite a feat for 6 year olds!) as we set up the posters...

...and then, we read some books.

The Year at Maple Hill Farm isn’t my favourite for describing seasons in America, but it does give some great descriptive words for what the weather is like on a farm. Thankfully, my colleague Lyndy has collected some books from other hemispheres along the way, so I also had All Through the Year available, which looks at the seasons in Australia. And as we live in Northern Tanzania much of the time, I thought we might just be able to pull off an equatorial perspective as well.

As we read, I had the kids draw pictures of the weather in that hemisphere country for each month. The first two were easier, but Tanzania was tougher. For one, the seasons in Musoma aren't clearly defined - a long and short rainy season, with dry in-between, and sometimes it's warmer and sometimes it's cooler. But no one ever really seems to know if rainy season has arrived, or if it's just a random afternoon shower!

I'm pretty sure no one has written a book about equatorial seasons, as it would be almost the same picture on most pages. A bit of rain here, a bit of dry season here, maybe 10 degrees warmer or cooler - if you're lucky, you might get to wear a jacket once or thrice! But if anyone out there knows such a book, I'd love to add it to the library!
Our Masterpieces: Northern Hemisphere on top,
Equatorial in the middle, and Southern Hemisphere on the bottom!
So as it warms up in America, cools down in Australia, and stays about the same here in Tanzania, we'd like to wish you all a...


Photo Credits to... myself, Amazon, and

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