A Lesson for Kids on Predicting Weather Through Weather Folklore

Updated on March 8, 2017
Teaching children what folklore tells us about weather is a great way to be prepared when on the hiking trail or outdoor camping.
Teaching children what folklore tells us about weather is a great way to be prepared when on the hiking trail or outdoor camping. | Source

A Children's Guide to Predicting Weather Through Weather Signs and Sayings

The Folklore of Weather

In our modern world, we rely on scientists who specialize in reading expensive and technical weather devices to let us know what to expect from the natural world around us. These Meteorologists, or weather scientists, use Doppler radar, weather balloons, satellites, and weather-smart computers to give fairly accurate predictions of what the weather will be like for the day. But, what did we do before all of this super technical equipment became the standard for weather predictions? Who was talking to Mother Nature when computers weren't around? Follow along while we take a look at the folklore of weather signs and sayings to see just how great our ancestors could read Mother Nature before the technical stuff was created.

Weather Handed Down Through the Generations

Generations ago, people would pass down what they knew about the signs of weather by using rhymes and sayings. These rhythmic poems would teach their children a purely "natural way to read the weather." As it turns out, those weather poems and sayings were based on the observations and wisdom of sailors, farmers, and other outdoors-people who used their experiences, which also had grounds in true weather science.

So, if you're out camping, or hiking, or traveling on foot in nature, far away from all the scientific weather technology and computers, you can use some of that "weather know-how" to help you make some fairly reliable predictions about the weather. Here are some really familiar weather rhymes that have been handed down through the generations, but also have been founded in good old fashioned weather science:

Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning.

Weather and the Rainbow

Every time you see a rainbow, it is going to be located in the sky opposite from where the sun is.

Because most weather systems move from the west to the east, the rainbow found in the western sky (which would occur in the morning), is telling you that rain is on its way—it's giving you "fair warning" about the rainstorm that usually follows. (This means that a rainbow in the eastern sky, tells you that the rain has already been-and-gone.)

A double rainbow can excite the soul...

Clear moon, frost soon.

Weather and the Moon

Whenever the moon is found in a clear, cloudless sky, the folklore says that frost is on its way. The natural weather science behind this saying explains that in a clear atmosphere, with no clouds to keep the heat on earth from rising into space, a low-temperature night without any wind helps frost to form. When the clouds come back and cover the sky, it's like putting a blanket above the earth, which keeps all of the sun's heat nearer to earth during the daytime.

This cloud blanket makes the earth's surface just warm enough to keep the frost from forming.

A year of snow, a year of plenty.

Weather and the Snow

This one may seem like it doesn't make much sense, or even any sense, but it's true. A season of continuous snow is better for the farmers crops, farmland, and trees than a season of weather that switches back-and-forth from warm to cold. When there's snow all through the the winter, it stops or slows down the trees from blossoming until the cold part of the season is completely over. New blooms won't be strong enough to take the cold and will freeze off of the plant and die. Plants will blossom if a short warm spell causes them to think the cold weather is over before the snowy season has truly ended. This means alternating thawing and freezing that can come with less stable winter weather destroys the fruit-bearing trees and the much needed winter grain fields.

Keep this card handy. These are the official symbols for determining cloud cover. Cloud cover symbols are used by weather scientist and school systems in harsh weather areas.
Keep this card handy. These are the official symbols for determining cloud cover. Cloud cover symbols are used by weather scientist and school systems in harsh weather areas. | Source

Ring around the moon, rain or snow soon.

Weather and Moon Rings

Have you ever looked up at night and noticed a halo or ring that looks like it's been placed around the moon? That halo, which can also form around the sun (just harder to see and dangerous to look at), is a layer of cirrus clouds that has been made from ice crystals that reflect the moon's light like prisms. This layer of clouds are not snow or rain-producing clouds. But, they sometimes show up when a warm front and low pressure area approaches, which can mean that bad weather is coming. The brighter the ring, the bigger the chance for rain or snow.

"Red sky at night, sailor's delight"
"Red sky at night, sailor's delight" | Source

Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailor's warning.

Weather and Red Skies

The many colors of the sky are made when rays of sunlight that get split into colors of the spectrum as they bounce off water vapor and dust particles in our atmosphere (sky). When the sky is filled with a whole lot of dust and moisture, the sunlight coming through it makes the sky look reddish in color. This high concentration of particles usually means that high pressure and stable air are coming from the west. Since weather systems usually move from west to east, that means you will have good weather for the night. When the sun rises in the eastern sky looking all red and angry, that indicates a high water and dust content in the sky. This basically means that a storm system may be moving in your direction. So if you notice a red sky in the morning, you should probably zip-up your tent, and put on your waterproof hiking boots!

Weather Quiz - How much did you learn about Weather Folklore?

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A Weather Project for Kids

A weather project for kids-- learning to predict the weather the old fashion way!
A weather project for kids-- learning to predict the weather the old fashion way! | Source

How to Complete the Weather Project for Kids Below

Learning to understand the weather and how to predict it from the way the sky looks is a great way to stay prepared when camping, hiking, or being outdoors in general. Observe your world and find the many ways to know if you will need to wear a rain jacket, or if shorts will be just fine!

Here's what you do:

  1. Print out the colorful sheet below
  2. Fill in today's date and the day of the week
  3. Look to see what the weather is doing right now, and write it down under "weather."
  4. Check an outdoors thermometer to see what the hottest temperature of the day is, and then what the coolest temperature of the day is, write the information under "temperature - low and high."
  5. Make a note if it is raining under the section that is titled "rain fall."
  6. What time did the sun rise?
  7. What time did the sun set?
  8. Complete this information for the entire 15 days.
  9. Discuss what you noticed about the natural weather activity and how it was the same or different from the weather the scientist predicted.
  10. Talk about how you learned to predict the natural weather conditions by using the folklore and personal observations within this lesson.

Concluding this Children's Weather Guide

When you set out to hike or camp remember to check the weather so you have a good idea how to properly prepare. But in those instances where the weather channel has made a miscalculation, you may just find the correct answer to your weather questions among the pretty reliable weather folklore passed down through the generations. What we didn't know about our skies then, may not be much less than what we know today. So be safe and check the weather channel for their weather predictions, but keep your eyes and instincts alert. You never know when a ring around the moon can change your outdoor plans. By simply paying attention to the clues of natural weather predicting, you can always be ready for whatever Mother Nature tosses your way.

Questions & Answers

    Comments for "Predicting Weather - Children's Guide to Weather Signs and Sayings for the Great Outdoors"

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    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      TENKAY~ Wouldn't have it any other way! ;)

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      wavegirl22~ Oh, it is so nice to see you in the hubhood!My dad is a sailor as well and he can tell if a storm is coming every time! BTW, you may want to check out a little hub I did about a few of my favorite hubbers....hmmm...wonder why?

      HubHugs Shari! (Go Saints!)

      K9

    • wavegirl22 profile image

      Shari 6 years ago from New York, NY

      K9 - Brilliant! Ah if we only knew then what we know now! This is one Hub I am surely bookmarking. It is so basic that it is brilliant! My Dad a true sailior at heart always told me this one. ."Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailor's warning." I see a while series of this type of Hub in your future! Next stop The Moon! Thumbs up my friend!

    • TENKAY profile image

      TENKAY 6 years ago from Philippines

      am grinning silly. This is my first hubhug. thanks K9 for making me feel good.

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      TENKAY~ What a cool bit of advice about ants and weather! I bet your grandma had a ton of knowledge, a hundred years brings much adventure I would imagine. Thanks for sharing some of your wisdom!

      HubHugs~

      K9

    • TENKAY profile image

      TENKAY 6 years ago from Philippines

      Watch the ants, if you see ants inside the house, rain is coming. If they build houses/colonies on walls of buildings, flood will occur. That's according to grandma who lived up to 100 years old.

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Flora~ Thanks!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Congratulations, K9!

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      WannaB Writer~ I agree with you 100%, it is very important that older generations share the folklore of their past with our younger generations. Weather seems to be one of those vital subjects that can prove to be a survival lesson more than most folklore. I believe family history should be passed along in this manner as well.

      I am honored that you enjoyed the hub and I certainly appreciate your well wishes for the Fan Faves contest.

      HubHugs~

      K9

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 6 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I"ve always had a lot of faith in weather predictions based on long-time observations. I can usually know when it's going to rain in spite of what the weather man says by just having watched the sky myself all these years. Thaks for sharing these old sayings with yiounger generation. Congrats on being chosen for the Fab Favs this week.

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      DzyMsLizzy~ I absolutely agree with you about the weathermen needing to poke their heads out a window once in a while! We may get find a more accurate weather reading! Sure am glad you made it by today, and you know I am looking forward to seeing you at the HubMeet in San Francisco on August 18Th! I hope you can work it out my friend.

      Thanks for the votes and comments--

      HubHugs~

      K9

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Happyboomernurse~ Thank you for the very nice comments. You know, the second I heard the guy on the rainbow video I knew it was the right one for the hub. He is just so amazed at the splendor of this double rainbow!

      Thank you for the congrats on the Fan-Faves this week!

      I really appreciate you stopping by today--

      Cheers~

      K9

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      akirchner~ Thank you for the comments Audry. I really appreciate the well-wishes for the Fan-Faves contest; coming from a Fan-Fave champion as yourself, it means the world! Glad you like the series my friend--

      HubHugs~

      K9

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Great job! I've known, "Red sky at night, sailor's delithg; red sky at morning, sailors take warning" ever since childhood.

      In earth science class in college, I picked up the bits about rings around the moon and cloud types.

      Our "weathermen" or meteorologists on TV these days are often right when you wish they were wrong, and wrong when you need them to be right! It is my considered opinion that they should spend less time wrapped up in their computer models and look out the window now and then! ;-)

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Wow! This was such a unique and fun hub. I remember a lot of those sayings from childhood and it's cool knowing they have some merit.

      I particularly enjoyed the rainbow video. You could just hear the exhilerating joy in the gentleman's voice as he watched the spectacular double rainbow show that nature was putting on.

      Voted this hub up across the board.

      BTW- Congrats on being nominated for this week's Fab 14 in the Fave contest. Good luck.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Cool ideas - and I love your weather "series" - congrats on making it again~! Good luck to you!!

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      cardelean~ Thanks so much for the comments! I hope your kids enjoy learning about weather as much as I enjoyed creating this little lesson plan. Weather folklore has always been an interest, so doing the research was a blast!

      Cheers~

      K9

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Loved this hub! I wish that teaching weather was a part of our fourth grade curriculum. I'm still bookmarking it for use with my own children, thanks for a great job!

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Simone~ You are too cool...thank you for the outstanding comments. I had so much fun creating this hub, that I wish I had an opportunity to teach this particular weather class myself; how fun it would be! It really brings a smile to know you have enjoyed this weather folklore lesson. Appreciate your time!

      Cheers~

      K9

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Just Ask Susan~ Thank you so much for your comments, they mean the world! Thrilled you find the hub interesting-- I found the "cloud cover symbols" fascinating so I had to make a chart for the kids!

      hubHugs~

      K9

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      ChatKath~ I am so flattered that you feel this hub is something your "Teacher" daughter-in-law would like to use. Teachers are the best! Thank you for the read and the votes. Big HubHugs!

      K9

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      This is so incredible, K9keystrokes. I love the way you presented the different prediction methods through their traditional sayings! And I really enjoyed reading your explanations for each, especially since I didn't know them all! The quiz and activity sheet are awesome. Wow. Just... wow.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great weather project for children and awesome hub. I will reference your cloud cover symbols as I find this very interesting.

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Love it K9 - I learned quite a bit here, not just for children although most would find it fascinating! My daughter in law teaches elementary school, I bet she would love to use something like this, Up, awesome, useful!

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Robin~ I really appreciate your comments. It would be an honor to have teachers use this as a part of weather (science)curriculum! My hope would be that they have fun using it right along with those cute little students!

      Thank you for stopping by today!

      Cheers~

      K9

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I believe weather is part of the curriculum for kindergarten in California. This would be a great reference Hub for kinder teachers! Wonderful job! Thanks for sharing and putting it all together so well!

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Nellieanna! I am so very happy to see here today. Thank you for swinging by to read about a little weather folklore. It makes since that you say knowing the weather conditions where you reside is important; some people put their lives on the line around accurate weather predicting. Before all of our brilliant technology, these folklore rhymes were the best and most accurate way to protect life and property from Mother Natures mood swings.

      Thank you for your comments, your words hold a great-deal of water with me! ;)

      PS: Good job on the quiz...I think looking back at the hub was a brilliant way to score that 100%!

      HubHugs~

      K9

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Sandyksk~ You make a very good point; folklore weather prediction techniques seem much easier to recall when staring at a red sky or ring around the moon! Thanks for your comments, good stuff!

      Cheers~

      K9

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Gordon Hamilton~ So glad to see you today Gordon, your approval means the world! I adore that you share your grandfather's saying,

      "Mist in the hills, water for the mills; mist in the hollow, good weather to follow."

      It is a worthy addition to those within this Predicting Weather article!

      Thank you so much for your comments.

      Cheers~

      K9

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      What a delightful hub! I'm always fascinated with weather and its lore, and have been and am around others who also love it. Coming from a semi-arid part of the country where weather is the difference between major life issues, probably tended me to notice.

      Thanks for a great one. I scored 100% on the quiz and only had to look back to find the correct answers a time or two! hehe

      Voting up and valuable in many ways!

    • Sandyksk profile image

      Sandy Jauregui 6 years ago from Sanger

      Very informative...I still enjoy these 'folklore' takes on the weather...easier to remember...:))

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image

      Gordon Hamilton 6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      A great idea for entertaining children and also for keeping some of these very reliable old sayings and methods of reading the weather alive. My great-grandfather worked the land in the Southern Uplands of Scotland and apparently (I never knew him) one of his favourite sayings of this type was, "Mist in the hills, water for the mills; mist in the hollow, good weather to follow."

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Denise~ I am thrilled that you enjoyed the hub! Teaching kids about weather folklore seemed like it would be a fun topic, and I was right! I had a blast with this. Thank you for your comments DH!

      Super-big HubHugs~

      K9

    • K9keystrokes profile image
      Author

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      Flora~ Great comments you offer here, thank you. You are absolutely right, no human can beat the animal kingdom when it comes to the secrets of Mother Nature. Dogs are particularly aware of earthquakes well before we humans have a clue.

      Thanks for the input--you rock!

      Cheers~

      K9

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Oh, I love this hub and hit the 'up' button. Awesome! What about the saying: red sky in morning, sailors take warning?

      You are so clever-great hub topic! :)

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I'm familiar with the Red sky at Night Sailors' Delight, Red Sky at Morning, Sailors take warning. It reminds me that with all this need for computers, people on the water still need to learn morse code.

      'Another thing that can tell you when bad weather is coming-the wild animals. People think they're so clever and smarter than other animals. But when it comes to Mother Nature and weather, people don't know anything before birds, aligators, wild cats, etc. If they dissappear and go into hiding, watch out.

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