Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Musings: Let It Rain!

I was thinking about the weather yesterday.  It was hot but not humid and I didn’t turn the air conditioner on.  It’s also been thundering a lot late at night, with frequent flashes of lightning.  Here in Arizona, it’s the monsoon season.  But a colleague from back East said she didn’t realize Arizona got heavy rainstorms.

That got me thinking: How many words are there to describe a rainstorm and related weather?  I thought of a list and then I thought of an activity I once did about weather, and I’d like to share both with you, along with a freebie I created.

Here’s the list of words I brainstormed: Monsoon, thunderstorm, hurricane, cyclone, typhoon, flash flood, doldrums.  I also found tempest, squall, and gale in my thesaurus.  Can you think of any others?  Since hurricane, cyclone, and typhoon all describe the same thing and just occur in different parts of the world, one activity for students learning about weather and climate would be to discuss why there are so many words for the same type of weather—what does that tell us about the importance of rain in societies around the world?  Everyone always talks about the weather and students should, too!
Synonyms for the word "rain" & a freebie for a weather activity
Desert rain; source: The ESL Nexus
I then remembered an activity I once did in a seventh grade ESL Social Studies class.  The students were learning about weather in Asia and I wanted them to make a connection to the weather in their town.  So I created a chart and asked them to fill it out for two weeks.  Every day at the beginning of the class period, I used Google Earth to show them the weather in a few cities in Asia and they recorded the temperature and a few other details on their charts, too.  They subsequently used their charts to write a compare and contrast composition about the weather in both areas. 

I don’t have the chart I created for my students but I made a new one for this blog post that I'd like to offer as a freebie to my readers.  It's pretty self-explanatory; students record the weather data each day for a week or more (just copy the chart for additional weeks).  Where it says "One Weather Word Description," students write a word that describes what the weather was like that day.  Where it says "How I Felt This Day," students write a word or phrase about their reaction to the weather.  By including these two categories, students get the chance to use more weather-related vocabulary as well as practice in using describing words.  Please let me know in the Comments section if you use this chart.
Freebie weather chart offered by The ESL Nexus
Freebie weather chart by The ESL Nexus; find it HERE
The desert really needs the monsoon rains that come in the summer but what I like most are the rainbows that often appear afterwards.  There frequently are double rainbows but it's not often that I see a complete rainbow like this one:
Synonyms for the word "rain" & a freebie for a weather activity
Desert rainbow; source: The ESL Nexus
Now that I live in the desert, I agree with Langston Hughes' sentiments about rain!