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As a small addition to your childcare centre or school’s outdoor space, a wind vane can be an excellent prop for an outdoor lesson! Children can begin to explore and encounter the concepts of weather and what wind is, as well as the directions of North, East, South and West.
This year, Standards Australia defined Nature Play, and the key concept is the child’s ability to directly “experience weather”. And why is this so important? Experiencing weather defines that you are outside eg that a child can feel a breeze.
If your child care centre has pet chickens (another great feature), their hutch’s roof could be the perfect location for a wind vane that has a ro0ster pointing in the direction of the wind. A discussion of weather could expand to the natural environment and the rooster’s role of heralding the day, and now heralding the wind! Having a wind vane on a chicken hutch or cubby rather than a school building will also enable your students to see it more closely.
Of course fun lessons are the best lessons! Your students can interact with wind through the activity of kite or paper plane flying – this will also engage their co-ordination, strength, communication and turn-taking skills. The Disney film Mary Poppins includes the motif of wind through a wind vane, and flying kites! Asking your students about their involvement in the film could be part of your lesson.
Alternatives to kites include pinwheels, paper plane, batons with ribbons or crepe paper, balloons, bubbles or even a paper bag! With each of these items children can see and feel the pull and push of wind. For a more permanent reminder of the power of wind your school could have some wind chimes!
There are many ways you can engage your students when teaching them about wind, weather and compass directions.