Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weather-themed play: November (the wrap up)

'Mummy, come and rain on my head!'

Dear Boy seems to have enjoyed our month of weather-themed play. He finally discovered a love of craft glue when we made the umbrella and cloud, sticking in a frenzy of crepe paper and cotton balls. Since then, he's dragged out the little cloud and asked me to rain on his head so he can hold up his little umbrella to 'stay dry'. The rain cloud is blown away by the wind and our weird little stylised rainbow comes out.

I had thought we'd do more rainy walks and puddle jumping this month but rain's been a little scarce (or scarily intense); so instead we checked the bureau of metreology website to see if it's going to be sunny or cloudy or cold or hot before getting out our clothes for the day or packing a bag for childcare.

'There's raindrops, Mummy. Where's my blue jacket? Don't forget your umbrella.'

We've had a far richer time this month with songs than in other months - more universal theme, I'm guessing. Our list included:

  • Rain is falling down
  • It's raining, it's pouring
  • Rain, rain go away
  • I hear thunder
  • I can sing a rainbow
  • Rainbow connection - The Muppets
  • You are my sunshine
  • Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
  • Singin' in the rain
  • Meteorology - The Wiggles (yeah, I know, go figure... but awesome nonetheless)
  • It's starting to rain - Justine Clarke
And sanitised, non-euphamistic versions/belted out choruses of:
  • Rain - Madonna
  • Umbrella - Rhianna
  • Good day sunshine - The Beatles
  • You are the sunshine of my life - Stevie Wonder
  • Walkin' on sunshine - Katrina and the Waves
  • Riders on the storm - The Doors
  • Have you ever seen the rain? - Creedance Clearwater Revival
  • Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen ('thunder and lightning, very, very frightening...')
  • I can't stand the rain - Tina Turner
  • Here comes the rain again - Eurythmics
  • Only happy when it rains - Garbage
  • Love is like a heatwave -  Martha and the Vendellas
  • Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers
  • Steal my sunshine - Len
  • Blowin' in the wind - Bob Dylan
  • Fog on the Tyne - Lindisfarne
  • Summer rain - Belinda Carlisle
  • Thunderstruck - AC/DC (although this is mostly because Dear Boy is digging on Planes 2 at the moment)
There are so, so many weather themed songs out there and it was fun trying to throw in as many as I could remember in various conversations and moments of play.

We weren't all that successful in finding weather-themed books. The real star of this month for me was this pair of books by Jackie French with the sublimely heart-rending illustrations of Bruce Whatley. Amazing and distressing, and probably far beyond where Dear Boy is at in terms of picture books, but he was thoughful and empathetic while we worked our way throug these. The fire book in particular was visceral.

They were really good opportunities to talk about extreme weather and their consequences: baking temperatures and hot winds; prolonged, heavy rain; blizzards (polar vortex?); tornados; drought. They're often difficult topics for kids (and parents) but introducing them early and taking a causes and consequences route helped us here. It's also been reassuring to me to start building that weather-watching culture that we know saves lives.

After covering the Boxing Day Tsunami in a tiny little newsbooth all by myself and getting closer to the graphic detail of that than I would have ever wanted - I know that a weather-watching culture is important. Where that isn't in place, where there is no system of weather/snow/surf reports with the news or people watching the horizon, the waves roll in or thinking about the drift of the clouds - then people get caught unawares and lives are lost when big weather happens.

It's so easy to do with kids - setting up a rain guage or a weather vane in the backyard, sitting them down on the sand for a few minutes before swimming and watching how the waves break, gazing at clouds, watching the direction the wind is blowing the leaves in the trees or the clothes on the line. All of those things build an awareness of weather and their environment that sticks.

Are you a weather-watcher? Can yourkids tell a Cumulonimbus from a Nimbus 2000?

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