This homemade weather station is a great way to get children observing & exploring the weather in their local area. Made from mostly recycled items it's also simple enough for children to put together themselves. Recently Minnie has shown a real interest in the weather & has been eager to discover just how much rain we've had, so to build on this interest & encourage her exploration we decided we'd create a rain gauge, weathervane, & something which would help us observe the strength of the wind.
A cylindrical container with a plastic lid (we used an old coffee tin)
A couple of handfuls of gravel
The plastic outer casing of a biro pen
Strong card, pens & laminator to make an arrow
Optional - Ribbon/material to cover container
Minnie started by wrapping the ribbon around the container & securing with tape. Taking the gravel she filled the container until it was heavy enough not to be knocked over by a strong wind.
She designed the arrow herself & once she had cut it out & laminated it she attached it to the wooden skewer with sticky tape. To make a hole in the lid of our coffee jar I used a bradawl & pushed it through the centre, moving it from side to side to make the hole slightly bigger. Minnie then pushed the plastic biro case through the hole so it touched the base of the pot, & threaded the skewer through. (The biro case enabled the skewer/arrow to rotate easily.) She then put the lid onto the pot before adding more decoration.
To keep the weathervane & rain gauge neatly together we gently pushed them into a large flowerpot with soil. Our weathervane needed compass points so to mark these as accurately as we could we used a handheld compass & then marked the directions on the ground with pebbles, each labelled with a N (North), E (East) ,S (South), or W (West).
To make our rain gauge we used:
A large plastic bottle
Tippex / white acrylic paint
Optional - Washi tape
Using scissors I cut the upper section off the bottle & Minnie decorated both sections with tape. (She loves using washi tape on everything at the moment, so it was no surprise it was added to the bottle.) To mark the measurements along the side she placed the ruler next to the bottle & marked off the centimetres using a permanent marker. She added the numerals, & to make the measurements clearer she painted small white lines over her initial markings using tippex.
To make the funnel for the rain gauge Minnie placed the top of the bottle into the base & we were ready for the rain!
She decided to design & laminate a sign for the weather station & attached to a wooden skewer with more washi tape, before staking it into the ground beside the flowerpot.
We were nearly ready, all that was left to create was our rainbow wind gauge. To make this I pushed a garden cane into the ground & we tied together a selection of brightly coloured florist ribbons that we then hooked over the top of the cane to secure. These not only looked pretty & brightened up our outdoor space, they also indicate so clearly for children the direction in which the wind is blowing, & how strong it is. A really strong wind for example will cause the ribbons to fly high & straight, whereas in a light breeze they will just gently sway.
Our weather station has been in the garden for the past couple of weeks & my mini meteorologist has been eagerly checking the rain gauge, which hasn't disappointed recently! She's loved discovering which way the wind has been blowing in, & this has been great for exploring directions & recalling the four compass points. It's also been a wonderful way to observe the subtle changes & natural patterns in the weather; for example she's been able to observe how the wind has increased in strength just before the heavy rain begins.
So simple to create & made largely from recycled items, this little weather station has been a big hit!
If you're looking for more weather themed activities you might also like our 20 Ways to Play in the Rain, 10 Ways to Play Outdoors on a Windy Day, Homemade Wind Chimes, Painting in the Rain.