Marzo … arriva come un leone, esce come un agnello.
It’s officially March, and here in the North East, that means one thing. The weather gets a little crazy. This time of year, us New Englanders tend to experience all the seasons at once. We can bounce from block buster snow storms to a freak seventy degree day in all in one week. There’s rain, of course. Sometimes of the frozen variety. Or hard and pelting. And with it usually comes plenty of wind. The wild changes keep us constantly guessing as to how to dress each day, and because of all this, my car ends up looking like a mobile closet, with jackets and sweatshirts thrown everywhere, along with abandoned gloves and hats, maybe even a stray snow boot ...
Back in my teaching days, I always made sure to save our weather unit for March. Every day, our chosen meteorologist would check outside and report what was happening. As the month wore on, our calendar would fill up with weather symbols. Did we have more sunny days in March? More rainy days? How often did it snow? And what about the temperature? It was so much more exciting when each day was unpredictable.
These variations make weather tracking in March the perfect opportunity for foreign language learning. For those of you who live in a climate that’s more temperate, then maybe this blog won’t be as useful for you. And also, please know, that I’m trying really hard not to be jealous. Winter and I had a falling out some time ago, and now I find myself dreaming of heading west for year-round warm, sunny days on the beach. For those of us limping along with me as we finish out these last few weeks of winter, please read on.
One tool that is useful for weather tracking in Italian is a homemade weather wheel. You can find one online and adapt it with Italian words, or you can make your own. Simply cut out a circle using cardstock or construction paper. Divide it up like a pie into four to six sections, depending on how simple you’d like to keep it. Then, label each segment with an Italian weather term (sunny, rainy, snowing, windy, etc.) and include a colorful picture to go with it. Poke a hole in the center and use a brass paper fastener or paper clip as your pointer. Each day, ask your child Che tempo fa, and let him point to the appropriate space on the wheel. Over time, your child will easily become familiar with these weather terms.
For the budding artists out there, how about drawing a colorful outdoor scene using markers, and then making a rain storm using a spray bottle full of water, or a few flicks of a wet paintbrush. Below is a project I did with my students last spring – an umbrella made with markers and a coffee filter. The kids had so much fun singing the Piove, piove song (the Italian version of It’s Raining, It’s Pouring…) as they watched what happens to the colors on their umbrellas.
For kids who love movement and sensory activities (and what preschooler doesn’t?), you can fill up a bin with a selection of plastic toys, making sure to name each one in Italian. Then poke some holes in the bottom of a plastic cup, fill it with water and let your child pour some “rain” over the toys. She’ll love splashing around in the water while you reinforce her Italian. Oh no! Sta piovendo! La barchetta si sta bagnando! Oh no! It’s raining! The boat is getting wet! Another idea is to make puddles out of poster board, or use pillows if you’d like, and let your child jump over them. You can practice counting the puddles in Italian as he plays. With my students, I like to make the puddles in different sizes, then have the kids put them in order from la più piccola alla più grande, or littlest to biggest.
While you’re on the topic of weather, it’s very easy to tie in other sets of vocabulary for your child to practice. One fun idea is to pull out different items of clothing and ask your child what she would wear on a hot day, on a cold day, on a snowy day, and so forth. Weather also goes hand in hand with the seasons. With March comes the end of winter and the beginning of spring. (Well, in our neck of the woods, the calendar might say spring, but the weather doesn’t always agree.) In any case, why not celebrate the arrival of spring with a special project. Plant a seed with your child and talk about how the seed will need water and sun to grow.
There really are no limits to what you can do around the topic of weather. Follow your child’s lead and try incorporating some of these activities into their day. And for those of you toughing it out with me during these ups and downs of March weather, hang in there! La primavera è alle porte! Spring is around the corner! Sort of. Maybe? We’ll see!