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Tornadoes Theme for Preschool

Areas in the United States have state regulations regarding safety drills that must be practiced with children if the preschool is in an area prone to this type of weather.

This Tornadoes Theme page will help your preschoolers to understand more about tornadoes and tornado safety through preschool activities and lesson plans.


Tornado Planning

If you are in this type of weather zone, it is important to do 3 things:  

1.  Have a safety procedure in place that all staff are trained in.

2.  Notify the parents of what your procedure is and that that you will practice it with the children.

3.  Practice it with the children just prior to tornado season and at least once during the season (I recommend once a month during the season).

This theme page includes preschool lesson plans, activities and Interest Learning Center ideas for your Preschool Classroom!

Let the Theme planning begin!

You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for your theme or click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.



Tornadoes Theme Art


Fingerpaint Storms

Provide black and white fingerpaint for the children to paint onto fingerpaint paper with.


Can Wind Chimes

In advance, ask families to donate tin cans.  Sterilize them and then tape the edges (using masking tape).  

Punch a hole in the top edges.

Let the children paint two or more cans.

Tie them with fishing wire by stringing the wire through the 2 holes in the top and then hang the can from a clothes hangar.  Hang the two cans next to teach other so that they hit each other when it is windy out.

You can also hang different sizes slightly inside each other for the same sound effect (see my Pinterest page for pictures!  Link to my Pinterest board is at the bottom of this page.  From there, click on Tornado Theme).


Spin It

Materials needed:  salad spinners, paper precut to fit in the spinners, a variety of tempera paint colors

Place the paper in the spinner.  Drop a few drops of different colors of paint.  Close spinner and spin!


Here Comes The Rain

Materials needed:  Spray bottles with water, powdered tempera paint, shakers (old salt and pepper shakers or others with small holes), white paper

The children sprinkle powdered paint on the paper and spray with water bottles.


Storm Clouds

Materials needed:  shaving cream (non-menthol scented), green paint

Spray shaving cream directly on your tables!  Add a few drops of green paint. Provide brushes and craft sticks if desired, but hands work best!

This goes along with telling children that when the sky is green, it's time to go inside (in means severe weather).


Stormy Day

Materials needed:  precut lightening bolts from yellow paper, precut cloud shapes in white, gray and black, crayons, gluesticks, blue paper

The children put together their own storm pictures by gluing the precut items onto their blue paper and then embellish them with their own crayon drawings.


Cloud Painting

Materials needed:  cotton balls, pinch style clothes pins, white, black and green paint, white paper

The children paint using the cotton balls pinched onto clothes pins.

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Tornadoes Theme Block Center Ideas


Add a dollhouse, people and cars and trucks to you block area.

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Tornadoes Theme Circle Time Ideas


Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your theme!

What Is It?

Ask the students if they have ever heard of a tornado.  Let them discuss--ask open ended questions and list their answers on a chart paper.

Ask questions such as:

What are they?

How are they made?

What are they made of?

What do they do?

Show pictures of tornadoes to the children.

Explain that when warm air from the south meets with cold air from the north, it can create these twisters.  Many of them are weak and harmless.  Some are much bigger.

If you are not in this type of weather zone, let the children know that.

If you are in this type of weather zone, tell the children that there are ways to stay safe during one and that you will be learning about that during this week.


Safety Procedure

If you have a procedure in place, discuss it with the children one day and practice it another.  Be sure to send a note home in advance to let families know that you will be discussing it with the children.  Suggest ways for families to support the drills and practice them as well.


What would we do?

If you do not live in this type of weather zone, tell the children what others do to stay safe.  The steps for safety are:

1.  Go to a chosen area.  This safe area would have no windows, be on the bottom floor and be a room closest to the middle of the house or structure.

2.  Go to a wall.  Kneel down, facing wall.

3.  Place arms over head, and rest arms and head on floor (see picture below) to protect head and face from any items the wind may

4.  Most tornado areas have Warning Systems.  They are extremely loud and let people know that a tornado is near.  This is the sign to go to the safe storm area.



Clouds

Read the following poem to the children:

What's fluffy and white and floats up high,

Like piles of ice cream in the sky?

When I look up in the big blue sky,

I see lots of things floating by.

What are they???

Discuss clouds--white on good days, gray on rainy days, black with some green on severe weather days.  Discuss your tornado safety drill if you are in a tornado zone.


Storm Sounds

Many CDs are available that have nature sounds.  Pick one of these up that have different storm and weather sounds on it. 

Play each track and have the children guess what the sounds are from.


You can click here to purchase the Ultimate Sound Effects Collection - Weather CD from Amazon. It has many weather sounds including lightening, rain, ice, hail, etc.


Create Your Own Weather Sounds

Make different storm sounds for the children to copy.

Some suggestions:

Slowly rub hands together.

Snap fingers.

Slap your legs.

Stomp feet and slap legs

Add others that you can think of.

Have the children add their ideas!

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Snack Recipe Ideas to Cook Up for Your Tornadoes Theme!

Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific themed questions while making these fun snacks!


Edible Clouds

Needed:  heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract powdered sugar, large clear jar with cover, fresh fruit, plastic knives

Have the children help to wash and slice fresh fruit.

Pour cream into jar.  Add about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Sprinkle some sugar in.

Cover jar and take turns shaking!  It will become you own whipped cream! 

Use on fresh fruit for snack!


Twister Drinks

Watching a blender is fun for children!  They can see the funnel form inside.

Make some healthy smoothies using your own favorite recipes!

Here are a few:

Fruit Milkshake

Combine 5 strawberries, 1/2 banana and 1 cup of milk.  Blend

Yogurt Whirls

Combine 2 cups of plain (though I prefer vanilla flavored) yogurt.  Add fresh fruit (or a small frozen bag of berries), 1/2 cup milk and a banana. Blend.

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Tornadoes Theme Ideas to Transform Your Dramatic Play Area


Weather Station

Create your own weather station!  Hang pictures and/or posters of different types of weather.  Hang a weather chart that is usually used for circle time.  Provide a keyboard, desk, paper, pencils, etc.

Hang a map of your country, county or state.

Provide thermometers, barometers.

Provide a microphone (you can make one by adding a wadded up piece of aluminum foil to a ruler).

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Tornadoes Theme Ideas for your Easel


More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!)

Sky Pictures

Provide white, yellow, black and green paint to the easel for some clear and stormy sky pictures.

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Tornadoes Theme Large Group Games 

that help build their muscles while they have fun together


Things Are 'A Flyin'!

Materials needed:  10-12 inch balloons, nylon stockings (just the leg portion) or knee highs, water.

In advance, place the balloon in the knee high.  Put balloon end on faucet and fill balloons with just a few tablespoons of water.

Blow up the balloon about half way and tie off.

Push the balloon down into the toe area of the knee high.

Tie the end of the knee high.

Use these outside for throwing contests, tossing into bins, etc.


Puddle Hopping

Make different colored puddle shapes from paper and tape to the floor of a large area.

The children will make up their own hopping games!


Parachute Weather

Act out wind, rain, thunder, quiet rain, etc. using your parachute.


Clothing Sort

Provide 4 laundry baskets and a huge pile of mixed clothes.  Include clothing used in nice weather, rainy, snowy, etc.  The children sort by season!

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Tornadoes Theme Ideas for Your Library and Literacy Activities for your Preschool Classroom


Book Suggestions for the Library


The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

How Do Tornadoes Form?: And Other Questions Kids Have About Weather (Kids' Questions) by Suzanne Slade

It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Green Shaw

PETER SPIER'S RAIN (Reading Rainbow Book) by Peter Spier

Tornadoes! by Gail Gibbons

Twisters: A Book About Tornadoes (Amazing Science: Weather) by Rick Thomas

The books above may be found at your local library.  You may also find them at Amazon by clicking the title links.  Do not limit yourself to those on the list.  Look for other stories and books that will help your children understand this weather at a preschool understanding level.

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Tornadoes Theme Activities to help your Preschoolers develop math skills and those small muscles in their hands!


Wind Socks

Materials needed:  large construction paper, different colored streamers, tape, hole puncher, yarn, crayons

Encourage the children to tape streamers in a pattern on the bottom long end of paper.

When done, encourage them to decorate the paper.

Tape into a cylinder shape.  Hole punch 2 hole on the top part (the streamers should be on the bottom) and string yarn through the holes and tie.

Hang in your classroom!


Jar Clouds

Materials needed:  clear jars, water in  each jar (have one or each child), shaving cream, pipettes and liquid watercolors

Fill jars 3/4 full with water.

Put shaving cream on the top so it is higher than the edge of the jar.

The children use pipettes to drop color on the clouds (shaving cream) to show how water (the paint) collects in the clouds and when it gets heavy, it creates rain!

Though this is also a science activity, it is a great fine motor skill activity as well!

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Tornadoes Theme Music and Movement Activities and Ideas to get your Preschoolers Movin' and Groovin'!


Spin Dance--Preschool Style

Play upbeat music.  Encourage the children to move like a tornado by spinning in circles; slowing down ; standing up and spinning as they squat to the ground.


Scarf Dancing

Do the activity above using dancing scarves or colored streamers.


Look at Me...I'm a.....

Have the children act out different types of weather to music.

They can move like white, puffy clouds in a blue sky; the wind on a slightly windy day and then a VERY windy day; soft rain falling; etc.

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Tornadoes Theme Activities for the Senses!


Clouds

Fill your table with lots of colors and sizes of cotton balls and pom poms.

Add magnetic letters, tweezers and spoons.

The children hunt for letters in the clouds.

Can the find all the letters of their name?

EXTENSION:  Provide a magnetic board next to this table where they can place what they find, spell out names, etc.


Water Wheels

Just add colored water, cotton balls and a few water wheels for some weather exploration.

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Tornadoes Theme Science Activities--for your Preschool Scientists in Training!


Storm Bottles

There are SO many ways to make these!  Many are made in 2 liter bottles.  I find that these are too large for preschoolers to handle.  I recomend smaller (1 liter or smaller) plastic bottles to make these.

#1.  Help the children fill bottle about 2/3 full.  (add food coloring--this is optional, you don't need to use food coloring).

The children then add dish detergent by squirting it into their bottles.  (About a 1/2 inch to an inch will do).

Cover their bottles and then spin in circular motions.

#2   Purchase a "tornado tube".  Fill one plastic bottle with water and a few drops of food coloring.  Twist tube onto the bottle.  Twist a second (empty) bottle into the other end of the tube.

Hold with water in bottle on top and spin in circular motions or shake from left to right many times.  Stop and watch the water spin into the lower, empty bottle (this is the same effect as water going down a drain)

#3   Add glitter to these bottles!


Upside Down Tornado

This is an outside activity!

Materials needed:  many 2 liter bottles of soda (not opened), Wintergreen Lifesavers (other brands/types do not work like Breathsavers..stick with the Wintergreen Lifesavers!), straw

Open a bottle of soda.

Open the Lifesavers and line them up on a straw (you will need to drop them all in the soda at once).

Have everyone stand back (I drew a chalk line that they had to stand behind).

Drop in the lifesavers and back off!

Very cool explosions!  The bubbles from the soda attach to the candy and make more holes and bubbles until it erupts!


Warm and Cool Air Combining

This is what can cause tornadoes in the air.  Show the children how air collects in these conditions.

Materials needed:  glass bottle, round balloon, pie tin, warm water

Place the bottle in the freezer for a few hours before this activity.

Blow up your balloon and then let the air out of it (to stretch the balloon out).

Take the bottle out of the freezer.

Stretch the end of the balloon over the mouth of the bottle.

Sit bottle in the pie tin.

Add warm water to the pie tin.

The combination of the warm and cool air will blow up the balloon.


Tornado in a Jar

I saw this on Pinterest and have not tried it, but it looks GREAT!

Materials Needed:  clear jars with covers (plastic jelly containers work great), water, dish soap

Fill bottle 3/4 full with water.  Add a few squirts of dish soap.

Cover bottle.

Spin in circular motions!

There is a picture of this and other activities from this page on my Pinterest page under Tornado Safety Theme.  My Pinterest Link is at the bottom of this page.


Wind Table

On a table or other flat area, provide cotton balls, pom poms and straws.

The children use the straws to blow the "clouds" across the surface.

It is more difficult for preschoolers than they think!  They will practice a lot with where to place the straw (how close or how far from the pom pom, etc.)

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Writing Activity Ideas for Your Tornadoes Theme!


Draw It!

After discussing twisters with the children, provide the children with white paper and a variety of drawing mediums (crayons, markers, chalk, colored pencils) to draw a tornado.

This is an open ended project.  Simply have book and/or pictures avaiable around the classroom for them to see!


Circles

This activity provides practice using small and large motor skills, very important pre-writing skills.

Encourage the children to draw circles.  Provide plain paper, papers with pre-drawn circles for them to trace and circle stencils!

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Miscellaneous Activities for Your Tornadoes Theme!


Meteorologist

Invite a meteorologist to your classroom!

or

Watch a taped weather report in your classroom and let them act it out in your Weather Station Dramatic Play Area.

or

Visit a Weather Station in your area if possible.

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