Start Them Young: Teaching Toddlers About Weather

At-home learning has become the new normal this year.

And even though my three-year-old and one-and-a-half-year-old aren’t in school yet, every parent knows that learning starts well before that time comes.


What You Need To Know

  • I started teaching both of my children about weather at the age of one
  • This was prompted after seeing a waterspout while on a walk with my son
  • I’ve relied on sensory play and experiences to teach the basics

I’ve been working from home since the spring, which means I’ve been spending A LOT more time with my kids. We’ve been working on the basics like colors, numbers, and the alphabet.

However, as long as I’m the teacher, there’s an extra emphasis on learning about weather.

I suppose my desire to teach weather to my children stemmed from an experience two years ago.

At the time, I only had my son who was only a year old at the time. I took him and my dog for a walk down to the lake, which is about a quarter-mile from our house.

There were storms around that morning as a cold front moved through and to my surprise, one of those storms had produced a waterspout!

I was in awe as we sat there and watched the waterspout from a safe distance. As a self-proclaimed weather dork, I was beyond ecstatic!

Foolishly, I tried pointing it out to my son and dog, expecting a reaction and for them to share in my excitement. They were less than enthused.

I looked for neighbors to point it out to. No one.

As happy as I was in that moment, I had wanted someone to share it with or at least have someone else show mild interest.

This was the catalyst for me to start teaching my children about the weather. Maybe if they had an understanding of it, it would be something we could enjoy together.

My initial weather lessons weren’t so much lessons as they were experiences.

For instance, on a warm, rainy day, I let my one-year-old son run around in his diaper on the back deck. By his reaction alone, you would have thought that I had given him a candy bar!

I’m not what you would call a “snow enthusiast” so instead of going out in the snow while I was seven months pregnant, I brought the snow inside for him to play with.

On a windy day, I would make it a point to spin my son around and say “breezy!” We also bought a kite to take advantage of those breezy days.

There has been less of a focus on learning and more of an emphasis in fostering their curiosity and creating experiences for them to enjoy.

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen our first frost of the season. My son instantly recognized it and proclaimed “snow!” I explained that it was frost and that the grass was cold and frozen.

His response was “touch it?” How could I say no? Out we went in our pajamas, boots and jackets to touch the frost.

Sometimes, my explanations are less than scientific. Growing up, my mom always said that thunder was the noise made from angels bowling in heaven.

I now tell my son the same, which seems to make him not afraid.

This past week, my one-year-old discovered clouds. She reached up and made a grabbing gesture at them. I did the same back and repeated “clouds”.

That got a good belly laugh from her (did I mention I’m a part-time comedian?), so I continued to do it.

Obviously that stuck with her because days later I said “clouds” to her and she looked up and started making the same grabbing gesture again.

My son’s knowledge of clouds has expanded to understanding that the “darky” clouds make rain. Speaking of which, rainbows have also been a big hit with both kids!

I’m no teacher, but I’ve taken great pride in being able to share my not-so-scientific weather knowledge with my children. I’ve loved watching their interest in weather grow.

Teaching them the basics has also renewed my own enthusiasm for something as benign as a “darky” cloud.

Did I ever care about the first frost? No. I was more inconvenienced by it than anything else. But now, I get to see it through the eyes of my curious toddlers and actually enjoy it.

I’m not one for the snow, but I’m looking forward to seeing the first snowflakes of the season: Touching it, catching it on our tongues, watching it melt.

I suppose in my quest to teach them about weather, they’ve taught me something too: To find joy in the simple things.