Parts of a Thunderstorm, Alison’s Montessori

Physical Science, Earth Science, Chemistry 6-12

Parts of a Thunderstorm is a unique puzzle from Alison’s Montessori. Besides being a high-interest topic for many young learners who are fascinated with natural disasters, this puzzle brings together chemistry and real-life experience. No natural phenomena seem to occur for no reason. For instance, lightning affects the nitrogen cycle by breaking the bonds of nitrogen molecules in the air. When these nitrogen atoms combine with oxygen, they become nitrate, which is used by plants as a nutrient. In addition, the electrical charges circulating in thunderstorms help the distribution and equilibrium of electrons and protons in the atmosphere. Learning about Parts of a Thunderstorm is a natural way to introduce these processes in context. How are classified thunderstorms?

There are four main types of thunderstorms exist; some fade quickly while others require protective actions: single-cell, muti-cell, squall line, and supercell. Our puzzle, Parts of a Thunderstorm, depicts a supercell thunderstorm since it covers the formation of a tornado. 

As we know, a thunderstorm is made of distinctive parts which are carefully monitored by meteorologists to predict the severity of a storm.  Our complete set, Parts of a Thunderstorm, describes 21 physical parts of a thunderstorm and scientific processes: Storm motion, wall cloud, overshooting top, cumulonimbus cloud, negative-charged particles, positively-charged particles, updraft, rear-flank downdraft, condensation funnel, wind, heavy rain, light rain, anvil cloud, tropopause, Mammatus clouds, shelf cloud, front-flank downdraft, mesocyclone, flanking line, gust front, and hail. 

Materials

How to use the Materials

Learners approaching this topic should be familiar with Types of Clouds, Layers of the Earth and its Atmosphere, and Parts of an Atom. First, introduce the puzzle with labels and control chart.  It is the entry point of the lesson, the concrete part of the learning.  You may ask children questions about their personal experiences with thunderstorms.  You may let the children deconstruct the puzzle and put it back together to get familiar with the layout. The booklet from the Parts of a Thunderstorm can then describe each part of the puzzle.  As you read the descriptions aloud, have children label the parts of the puzzle using the wooden labels.  If you are working with a small group of children, have other children organize the nomenclature cards from top to bottom on a mat (control card to the left, matching picture and label to the right).  

To pick the children’s interest even further, you may share some interactive online simulators such as the ones from scijinks.gov where it is possible to use different factors to affect natural phenomena.

Finally, you want to leave on the science shelf copies of the reproducible materials such as the Nomenclature Cards Workbook, and the Blackline Master Chart.  Both will provide a copy of the information, and have children further interact and integrate the newly acquired knowledge.  While the Blackline Master Chart helps children reconstitute the whole concept with all its parts, the Workbook helps children isolate each part and tie them with scientific descriptions.  The descriptions not only provide vocabulary enrichment but also create interdisciplinary connections with the rest of the Montessori curriculum. 

In addition to this material, which is a repeatable and permanent experience for the learners, you may want to suggest creating a diorama of a thunderstorm using cotton balls.  Many excellent exemplars can be found on the Internet!

I believe you can get any child excited about thunderstorms! They will forever be diligent observers capable of predicting a thunderstorm! But the beauty of it, beyond observing a thunderstorm (from afar!), they will understand the process and importance of such a phenomenon. Subscribe below to receive an email when I post about new Montessori materials!

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