Children experience the weather day by day. They respond to the weather. They hear adults referring to the weather. Some will be familiar with daily weather forecasts. The subject of geography can help children to reach a deeper understanding about these experiences by understanding how place, location and environment help us to explain our daily weather patterns. Daily weather is connected to seasonal weather patterns. Within the UK we experience the four main seasons, and children are required to be familiar with these. Again the location of the UK helps us to explain why we experience our seasons in the way that we do and when we do. This is why it is also important that the children become familiar with the location of hot and cold areas of the world in relation to the equator and North and South Poles. Where the UK is relative to the equator, North and South Poles matters in understanding our weather as well as the weather in other locations (including your non-European contrasting locality)
The term ‘weather’ describes the state of the atmosphere at a given point in time and at a specific geographic location. Weather forecasts provide an estimate of the conditions we expect to experience in the near future. The term weather includes our measurement of temperature, precipitation cloudiness, and strength of wind. In many primary schools children are regularly asked to talk about the weather, perhaps from their observations and by making simple recordings – this can be extended beyond being a speaking and listening exercise into one that is fully geographical by looking at the weather on the same day in different parts of the UK. They will be locating the weather, and noticing similarities and differences to the weather they experience. Some of the differences in weather patterns will be to do with location and what the features of the part of the country are like, such as the coast or mountains.
Locating with your children on a world map, and using globes – real and electronic, maps and atlases – the North and South Poles and the Equator introduce them to these features which we superimpose on the globe. You may wish to teach the children about small scale localities near to the North and South Pole and the Equator, though you need to locate these in their continents and oceans (Arctic Ocean; Antarctica; Africa, Indian Ocean, Asia, Pacific Ocean, South America, Atlantic Ocean). Such studies could have powerful links with literacy – there are some great texts set in these places. However, you must check these texts for geographical accuracy – some authors take creative liberties with where penguins (Antarctic coast, some parts of the coast of South Africa) and Polar bears live (northern North America and Asia and on the edges of the Arctic Ocean) for example; they do not live at the South Pole or the North Pole. Exploring with them these places and why where they are makes a difference to their weather (day to day) and climate (annual seasonal variation) may help children to engage with, even be fascinated by, this aspect of geography. You may wish to make appropriate links with the National Curriculum Science Framework here too. Again our teaching about the environment, mapwork and developing locational knowledge guidance might be helpful here.