Whatever the Weather

Whatever the Weather Science Experiments and Art Activities That Explore the Wonders of Weather by Annie Riechmann and Dawn Suzette Smith

Weather is a part of our everyday. It dictates our daily schedules and natural rhythms and continues to be a timeless source of fuel to promote open-ended play in children. Annie Riechmann and Dawn Suzette Smith, the popular nature bloggers of Mud Puddles to Meteors draw from this inspiration to bring us their very first book of weather related fun for kids and their families, Whatever the Weather: Science Experiments and Art Activities That Explore the Wonders of Weather (public library)*.

Whatever the Weather book ice scupltures promt

“Basic discussions of the weather are common in the average elementary classroom, but often the discussions start and stop at the “what” of weather, leaving out the much more interesting “why”.”

Whatever the Weather aims to address the whys of weather with information and prompts that can be modified for preschoolers to middle school age children. This delightful resource is broken up into four categories:  Cold weather, rain and the water cycle, sun, and the wind. All highlighted activities in these categories are part science and part art complete with answers about the why’s of the weather around us,  like-minded alternative project options to explore, and fun side notes labeled “Wondering About the World” highlighting interesting stories or facts that relate to the activity.

Whatever the Weather frost painting prompt

Whatever the Weater evaporation prompt

What I enjoy most about this book is how extremely easy it is to follow along– The activities don’t need a long list of supplies or set up, there aren’t pages of prescriptions, or projects with a lengthy step-by-step explanation with a zillion materials required. You can literally look outside at what the day holds, flip to a prompt that fits the weather, and customize that prompt to your child’s age and interests. There are also many modifications to each project that may not need supplies at all, but still delve into investigating and questioning the state of the seasonal changes in the atmosphere. Whatever the Weather promotes scientific, motor, and creative experiences.

Whatever the Weather learning about wind and clouds

Out of the activities we’ve explored in Whatever the Weather, my 2 and 5-year old recently enjoyed leaf painting and leaf vein science.  To provide an example of what this wonderful book has to offer, here’s a look at this project prompt from the book!


Leaf printing with watercolors


After a morning rain yesterday, using Annie Riechmann and Dawn Suzette Smith’s book as our guide, the girls explored cohesion and followed leaf veins with their paintbrushes. Veins that mimic our own human veins, life force pathways that carry nutrients and water. Instead of doing this project outside while it was raining, we decided to enjoy it during an afternoon when it had rained earlier in the morning. Droplets of water still clung to tree leaves and tips of the grass while the sidewalks were already dry. We collected leaves in our yard including a couple of these enormous, beautiful Catalpa leaves. I set out a variety of liquid watercolors including the girls’ favorite metallic mixing agents, silver and gold, as well as several paintbrushes and they enthusiastically went straight to playing and painting their found leaves.

Leaf painting nature activity for kids

Leaf painting with watercolors to learn about leaf veins and cohesion

Watercolor leaf painting

With each underside of the leaves facing up, my 2-year old rubbed paint freely on her leaf canvas while my oldest carefully followed the branches of lines on her leaf. The metallic watercolors shimmered on the leaves and looked a little like morning dew.

Leaf painting with liquid watercolors is a fun and simple summer nature project for children to investigate leaf veins and cohesion

Leaf painting and printing nature activity for kids

One of the alternate suggestions in Whatever the Weather to further explore this project was to preserve the leaf painting by making leaf prints. By placing a sheet of paper on top of a recently painted leaf, and gently pressing the paper into the leaf, carefully peel the sheet of paper from the leaf, and you’re left with a spectacular expression of art and nature. We had fun holding our prints up to the sunlight, since the light seeps through the places where watercolors made the paper thin to create a stained glass effect. We noticed the same happens when you hold up a leaf to the sun– The light illuminates the green margins between the leaf veins.

Watercolor leaf printing summer nature project for kids

Learning about leaf veins and cohesion from leaf painting and leaf printing

Exploring the nature of weather doesn’t have to stop with the end of this book. You can follow along on Annie and Dawn’s adventures through their blog, where you can also sign up for a monthly newsletter and seasonal Nature Labs. Get social about your nature findings by connecting with other nature nuts on the Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook group for follow along on Dawn’s adventures through the terrain of Nova Scotia.

Leaf printing with watercolors - Art and Nature Activity for Kids

And if you’re looking for more weather related reads, hop on over to this massive weather themed booklist for kids!


*Source of book reviewed was provided by the good folks at Roost Books.


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