Hurricane Dramatic Play

Dramatic play is a wonderful way for young children to act out roles and express themselves. Providing dress up costumes and pretend real life items encourages them to get into character, express their feelings, and gain mastery over new concepts.  20140827_111123

When your child continues to play a new role and theme over and over again, it is a sign that they are applying and processing the concepts that may be too complicated for them to integrate from a book. In this activity, we prepared our “house” for an upcoming hurricane.


We packed emergency kits, boarded up our windows, and crouched as Miss Carrie used instruments to recreate the sounds of a hurricane outside.



Hurricane Emergency Kits

Young children are constantly exploring their environments. They enlist the help of other children and adults to give them the language to describe what they see. Because hurricanes are not a part of their everyday experience, your child may have a difficult time truly understanding what they are, and what happens when they strike. By creating emergency kits,  your little one was able to integrate concepts from this portion of our theme.


Initially, your little one learned  that for those living in areas frequented by hurricanes, it makes sense to be familiar with emergency procedures put in place by local and national governments. It was then explained to your children that emergency kits are necessary during any natural disaster.


For this component, we had bins and bowls filled with band-aids, plastic food, bottled water, toys, and flashlights. Your little one was given a wooden crate to use as their “kit”, to place their necessary items inside. Before the “hurricane” commenced, your little one was urged to check on their friends, and as a group, go into the playhouse with their kits.20140827_110239

As you may know, dramatic play invites learning and promotes all different kinds of development. By providing a few interesting tools to our classroom, we had writing, communication, social development, fine motor development, cooperation, organization, and the exploration of new material to enjoy.

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Cyclone in a Bottle

Your little scientists had a blast with this hands-on experiment. They used jars, bottles, water, a funnel, and dish soap to create a cyclone in a jar! To initiate this activity, your little one learned that tornadoes form when cold and hot air combine and spin very quickly.


They also learned that the swirling winds of a tornado are called a vortex. Following this brief introduction, they poured water into containers until they were about ¾ full.


This component of the activity required teamwork. One of the students would hold the bottle, while the other one poured the liquid in. Then we added a few squirts of dish soap.


It really did not take much and we took the funnel off for this part so we would not have to wait for it to drip through the funnel. Then we added two drops of food coloring.


Next, we put the funnel back on to add in some glitter. This made the tornado easier to see. We talked about debris and how tornadoes have high winds that can break things and carry debris to other places.


To view our tornadoes, the kids turned their bottles upside down and held them by the neck. Then they quickly spun the bottle in circular motion for a few seconds.


When they stopped, they were able to see a mini tornado forming in the water!As a result of this activity, your budding meteorologist experimented with the physical properties of water: density, volume, polarity, and cause and effect.


Students also participated in inquiry-based science, which enabled them to formulate explanations based on evidence, and then connect those explanations to the topic at hand.





Waterspout Tornadoes

Waterspout tornadoes fall into two categories: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts. Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado, are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning. Fair weather waterspouts usually form along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds. This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms.


To help your little one grasp the idea of the waterspout tornado, we created our very own at the water table. Using pre-made funnels, constructed of paper and plastic bags, we produced whirlpools, watching with glee as our “tornadoes” sloshed the water around the water table, sucking up fish and other debris. This activity enabled your little one to explore the physical properties of water: density, volume, polarity, and cause and effect. Young children are naturally curious. To help foster their understanding of how the world works, it is essential that they learn about the various weather patterns that exist, and the interactions between them. This activity also cultivated their observation skills.



Tornado Watch

The Storm Prediction Center is one of nine National Centers for Environmental Prediction. Their mission is to provide timely and accurate forecasts and watches for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes over the contiguous United States.  A tornado watch specifically includes the large hail and damaging wind threats, as well as the possibility of multiple tornadoes.


Typical watches cover about 25,000 square miles. To convey this knowledge to our students, we had a circle time discussion regarding the function of the Storm Prediction Center, followed by a period of dramatic play. Using toy computers, phones, and a variety of other implements, we ventured into the world of meteorologists, call centers, and tornado chasers!

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Dramatic play poses as a host for a variety of skill sets. One is that of role playing. This is where your little one imitates behaviors and verbal expressions of someone they are pretending to be. This enables them to practice their social and interaction skills.


As your child climbs the social skill ladder of development through play, they will go from pretending at the same time without any actual interaction, to pretending that involves several children playing different roles and relating to each other from the perspective of their assigned roles.





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Electricity and Earthquakes

Your little one learned that if you are outside during an earthquake, it is important to get away from buildings, overpasses and power lines. To help convey this concept to our class, we created little villages with power lines, and structures that we used to protect our people. Your little one began this activity by spreading dirt onto a tray. They then used sticks and yarn to create electric poles. Next, we used small branches to simulate trees, and blocks to represent houses.



We then placed plastic people underneath the power lines and then underneath the blocks. Next, we shook the trays, and observed what happened. Lastly, each student was then asked what they saw, and then where they thought their people would be safest.


This activity targeted several learning objectives. First, your little one simulated safe behavior during an earthquake simulation. Secondly, students executed new language skills, as they discussed hazards, used and applied action verbs, and shared information.  And finally, each child accessed their critical thinking skills as they experimented with cause and effect, observation and evaluation, and creative problem solving.



Quake Challenge

Waves of energy moving through the earth in an earthquake can be a difficult concept for young children to understand. Pictures of the aftereffects of earthquakes do not clearly show how damage to buildings happen. A pan of Jello can be a simple and engaging classroom model for demonstrating wave motion and explaining how earthquake damage occurs.


To begin with, your little one held a pan of Jello, as it was explained to them that it represents the ground, which moves during an earthquake. They were then directed to gently tap the pan to show the waves moving through the Jello “ground”. We then talked about what we thought would happen to buildings when the ground shakes. Using marshmallows and toothpicks, we created buildings to place on the Jello ground.


We then shook our pans again to observe what happened. We began by shaking gently, and then created a larger earthquake. After the students tested their structures, they redesigned and rebuilt them to test again. As they did this, they were encouraged to discuss how to make them stronger, how long they stood up, and the different shapes they saw. Using paper and markers, they then drew and labeled the shapes in their “designs”.



As a result of this activity, students explored a variety of concepts related to geology and number systems. Students additionally experimented with the physical properties of rocks, seismic events, and steps of the engineering practice. Lastly, your little ones conducted a scientific approach to creative problem solving, finding ways to meet society’s needs.