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Spontaneous Learning: Tornadoes


The boys have been talking about tornadoes for the entire month of January, so I had planned on introducing the tornado bottles, quietly, to see what kind of conversation they started.  The boys literally dropped everything that they had been playing with to watch the tornadoes in the bottles.

We had some amazing conversations too.  After each child had gotten a turn to make a tornado, I asked them if they thought that real tornadoes were like the one in the bottle, They all said no, and Aiden told me that real tornadoes are made of clouds, not water.  Xavier noticed that the water in the bottle was spinning, just like the air spins in a real tornado.  After a little discussion, we decided that for a real tornado to form, the air has to make the clouds spin.

I also asked the boys if we should put some glitter in the bottle to see what happened, Gage said that glitter was a good idea, “but not beads, because they would be too heavy”.  We put some blue glitter in the bottle and they boys shook it up to make a tornado, we noticed that the glitter was spinning on the outside, but not going in the middle of the tornado.  Then I reminded the boys that real tornados can pick up really heavy things, so they decided that we should put some beads in the bottle and see what happened. 

Sure enough, the beads got sucked right up in the middle of the tornado.  We watched as the beads flew to the top, dropped to the bottom, and then got picked up by the tornado over and over again.

I was surprised by how long the boys worked with the tornado tube (over an hour) and that they were able to make real connections between what was happening in the bottle, and real tornadoes.