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Nampa kindergarten teacher helps students become mini-meteorologists

Jennifer Craine teaches at Park Ridge Elementary School in Nampa.

NAMPA, Idaho — Rain or shine, hot or cold, studying the weather can be tricky business, but that's what meteorologists do.

Bri Eggers shows us a kindergarten class in Nampa, becoming mini-meteorologists. And Bri says, thanks to this week's Innovative Educator, the forecast for their future is bright.

These kids at Park Ridge Elementary School in Nampa are becoming mini meteorologists.

"I liked it because, it was all about rain."

"I learned about the colors and how they go in order of the rainbow."

Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Craine says it's called expeditionary learning.

"Instead of counting bears today, here's some plastic raindrops."

In a module called "Weather Wonders."

"Our unit actually started with showing some of Channel 7's weather forecast. By the end of the unit, you will know those words and you will be able to do them," she said.

In this classroom, all of the learning is happening under one big weather umbrella.

"Weather was our main topic, but it wasn't just through our reading block, it was throughout the day," Craine said.

"So, with the math, we learned how to graph weather. We learned how to do simple bar graphs, and which ones were bigger and lower. We were able to do trends in our weather journals for a good three-week period."

Math, reading, science...

"We made rainbows using prisms, and clouds using shaving foam."

The kids crafted their own globes and maps to learn about geography.

“Oh no, we're in Nampa, Idaho. Our weather today is sunny and 50 degrees out," Craine said. "It was just amazing to see, not only the weather they've actually learned, but just general knowledge that isn't really in our standards, but it's things that they needed to know anyway."

Craine says often times, just reading a book about the weather would lead to other clouds of thought.

"Every day they were so engaged that if we did not talk specifically about weather that day, oh well! They want to learn about that, let's go on that tangent and learn!"

The students were also charged with the task of writing, and revising their own stories about weather.

"Witherspoon felt cold from playing in the pool all day."

"Revision, even with kindergartners, is powerful," Craine said.

"Playing in the sun all day."

At the end of the three-month weather unit, they showed off their new "skills of the skies" at a "weather expo."

"And they were so proud of themselves. 'That's what I started with, but now, look at my finished product!'"

Jennifer Craine is igniting "storms of thought" in her students.

"It's the empowerment of studying a topic and really becoming experts."

She's an innovative educator.

Craine says she sent off all of her students' stories to a publisher, so the class will soon have all of their hard work from the weather unit preserved in a hard-bound book.

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