Our world is whirling as we begin a tornado unit study! We happen to live in “tornado alley,” and even occasionally have to retreat to the basement during city-wide tornado warnings! So it was good to learn a little more about them–and maybe ease a few fears.
When we begin a unit, we always start the new subject with a “KWL” discussion on what we already Know, and what we Wonder. (After the unit we also discuss what we Learned.) I’ll probably say this over and over again, but I’m sure I get the most out of these units. Kind of embarrassing to admit until I read these primary-level science books, I didn’t know how a tornado was created! But that’s part of the reason I LOVE learning with my kids. Learning together
Learning the Facts About Tornadoes
Brainpop is one of our favorite science resources and the easy-to-understand introduction video and activities kicked off the exploration into our tornado unit.
A stack of books from the library or our personal collection furthered the learning. Here are some non-fiction books we recommend:
The TV show, Beakman’s World is a bit dated (hello again, 90’s!), but my kids think it’s hilarious, and the science information is still in-style. Watching it got them excited to create their own whirling tornado in a bottle. (At the time I’m writing this post, Beakman’s World can be found on Netflix.)
Including Fiction in the Tornado Unit
The Magic Treehouse series is another one of our favorite resources to use during an elementary unit study since there are so many coordinating books on history or science subjects. Twister on Tuesday had us traveling to the prairie during pioneer times and hiding with Jack and Annie in a dirt dugout during an angry funnel storm.
Before, during, and/or after each chapter reading we completed a comprehension activity. My goal, when creating the book study packet, was to have a variety of activities and graphic organizers to keep things fresh. Nothing more boring than doing the same worksheet over and over!
Tornado was another sweet fiction tornado-themed chapter book we read-aloud. It’s about a family who gathers in the storm cellar during a tornado. While they wait out the storm, Pete, the farmhand, tells stories of “Tornado” the dog–his beloved childhood pet who appeared after a tornado.
We enjoyed the book as a bedtime read, and then took a comprehension “test” on Book Adventure. We don’t always test on what we read, but the kids think it’s fun to collect “points” and it’s a good reading incentive for books they might not regularly pick up.
The Tornado Unit Project
Beakman’s tornado in a bottle experiment (see above) seemed a little complicated to me, so we opted to recreate the funnel-effect by making a “Tornado in a Jar.” Ours didn’t turn out quite as whirly as Pinterest promised, but we had fun anyway. I’m reminding myself that projects don’t need to be award-winning as long as they’re educational and fun.
Concluding Tornado Unit Assessment
Lastly we finished up the tornado learning with a cut-and-paste tornado True or False page, as well as finishing our KWL chart by filling in our Learning. Now Ryan is anxious to know which “natural disaster” we’re learning about next! Something about destruction is quite fascinating to this 8-year old!
Interested in giving these tornado unit activities a whirl? Find the printables here.