Saturday, June 7, 2014

How to explain thunderstorms to your kids

We were just ready to leave the library on Thursday when the wind picked up and the lights went out.  We spent an hour getting to know some new friends in the dark while we waited for things to calm down.  

Living on the edge of the Great Plains, we're treated to some rather violent weather this time of year, and it raises lots of questions from my children. Will we be safe? How do we know? Why are we sitting here in the dark instead of heading home?

Tonight, things were rumbling again.  As I was tucking him in, T-Rex asked, "So Mom, what is thunder anyway?"   I told him that thunder is energy.  The energy moves through the air, making waves and causing them to rumble.  Our ears receive that chaos as the sound "thunder."

Energy is the most basic thing in the natural world.   So, I push myself to explain things to my children in terms of energy.  This is debated, but enough people with doctorates agree with me that I am going to go ahead and just make it a statement: energy is the most basic thing in the natural world.

You might want to explain to your child that lightening happens because electrons build up in the clouds during storms.  When the charge gets strong enough, the electrons jump to the ground. This jump releases a huge amount of energy.  Some of that energy is light, or "lightning".  Some of the energy physically moves out through the air.  That is thunder.

A little later, Pony Artist was out of bed. That happens on stormy nights, right? As she headed back to her room, she turned to me and said, "I think thunder and lightening must be friends." It's amazing how children can intuitively grasp science concepts. The interplay between thunder and lightning can be described in highly complex terms, but it's also true to say "they're friends". 

As you might imagine all that energy switching places can be very disruptive, and not just to preschoolers' sleep. The energy released in the wind can be very damaging. However, it takes alot of energy to move a library, which is why we opted to hang out there rather than heading to our relatively tiny car the other night.

Stay safe and sweet dreams.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I can't wait to hear what you have to say! Thanks for sharing.