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Updated Apr 13, 2023
Goal: To introduce the concept of wind as not only a force of nature, but also a source of energy.
Enjoy your unit’s usual Opening and explain some basic facts about wind and how it can be used by humans to make our lives easier and more enjoyable.
Answers: Wind is moving air. People have been putting wind to work for thousands of years. Sailboats are the original example of vehicles powered by wind and windmills are the oldest machinery. Most recently, wind turbines (modern windmills) have been invented to use wind to create electricity to power our world. Electricity is what makes lights and TVs turn on when we flick the switch or click the remote. Wind turbines are most effective at producing energy when they are grouped together. Groups of them are called wind farms and they do the same job as power plants. Additionally, there are many fun recreational activities involving wind power such as kite flying, wind surfing, parasailing, hot air ballooning, and parachuting etc.
Pinwheels are fun toys and decorations. They operate using the same principles as wind turbines: the energy of the wind’s movement turns the spokes in a circular motion. At home, place the pinwheel in an outdoor flower pot on a sunny day to watch it spin in the breeze.
Air is invisible. We can only see how it moves other objects. For example, when you look out the window you can tell that it is a windy day when you see the leaves on a tree blowing. Windy days are perfect for flying kites!
For the most part, the production of electricity involves burning coal, oil or natural gas, which is bad for the Earth. Wind turbines are now helping to create electricity in a cleaner way. Ask the group to think about everything they use in a day that runs on electricity. (The easiest way might be to imagine one room of a house at a time.) Can any of the children remember a time that the power went out in a storm? What changed?
Answers: Light bulbs, clock radios, electric heat, air conditioning, refrigerators, freezers, ovens, microwaves, toasters, blenders, televisions, computers, hair dryers, etc. all rely on electricity.
The first thing you immediately notice when the power goes out is that all the lights turn off. Your family may have to use flashlights or candles to see. It is also harder to cook food and to keep it properly chilled; don’t open the fridge for long! Without TV, movies, video games or computers you may have to play a board game or read a book for fun instead.
Explain to the children how wind can be unpredictable; it can change in strength and direction very suddenly. The good news is that we will never run out of wind and it doesn’t cause pollution or health damage. In this game the participants will act out the different types of wind. It should be played in an open space, such as en empty room, gymnasium or field.
Each child holds on to the parachute and waits for the leader’s instructions. If using a sheet instead it may be better to break into two smaller groups. The leader calls out directions to the kids at random such as “light, ocean breeze” (make slow ripples in the parachute), “blustery day” (wave the parachute steadily), “gale-force winds” (shake energetically), “hurricane” (hold and shake with one hand and run in a counter clockwise circle) and “cyclone” (hold and shake with one hand and run in a clockwise circle).
Read a windy day story such as Curious George Flies a Kite by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey, Millicent and the Wind by Robert N. Munsch and Suzanne Duranceau, or Whoosh Went the Wind! by Sally Derby.
Enjoy your regular Closing and commend the group for learning about how wind can be both fun and useful.
Caduto, Michael J. Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing,
Fitzgerald, Stephanie. Wind Power. New York, NY: Chelsea Clubhouse, 2010.
Woelfle, Gretchen. The Wind At Work: An Activity guide to Windmills. Chicago, IL: Chicago
Review Press, 1997.