Our Little Explorers spend much of their imaginative playtime as a merry band of pirates sailing on the high seas in search of treasure. For this they need wind, and maps! We realised that they didn’t really understand why or how to use them. So we made this easy weather vane to explain how to work out which way the wind is blowing and what the N-S-E-W is all about on maps.
This is a dead simple activity and you should be able to lay your hands on all the props without any extra trips to the shops or online purchases! It can be a spur of the moment time-filler with the added bonus of learning about the weather and directions.
You will need:-
- Old flowerpot – plastic or terracotta
- Pencil with eraser
We made the weather vane arrow by cutting out a point and a tail from an old plastic flowerpot. Any sturdy, flat plastic will do. We then taped these to either end of the straw.
To find the balanced centre of the straw, the Little Explorers had fun balancing it on their fingertips. They found it interesting to realise that it didn’t balance in the middle because the tail end was heavier than the arrow end. We then stuck a pin through the straw’s balance point and in to the eraser at the top of the pencil. This is so it can spin on the pencil top.
We painted N-E-S-W (Never Eat Shredded Wheat – except do, really!) to mark the directions on the edge and sides of the flower pot. The Little Explorers filled it with sand borrowed from the sandpit, stuck the pencil in the middle, and decorated the surface with shells, stones and feathers.
The Little Explorers found a spot in the garden which they thought would catch a few breezes. We then used the compass to find North and lined up the flowerpot’s North side with this.
Remember if the arrow is pointing to the north, the wind is coming from the north. This is because the tail is larger than the point, which means it gets pushed more by the wind.
The Littlest Explorer was happy to see the arrow moving around in the wind, while the slightly larger Explorer is now fascinated by the concept of directions, mapping and navigation! Not bad for a quick early summer activity!
Expert Explorers: You could chart your findings in a weather log to discover where the wind usually blows from in your area. Next time, we’ll make a rain gauge so you can monitor rainfall too. It could be an excellent school project and we’d love to see pictures of your own homemade weather stations so please post them to our page!