Cruel summers

12th July 2013 at 01:00
Why meteorologists expect summertime in the British Isles to be wet for the next 10 years

Despite the recent spell of sunshine, weather experts say that the British Isles face a decade of wet summers, blaming the natural warming of the Atlantic Ocean for pushing the jet stream further south.

Scientists believe that the phenomenon may have begun in 2007. Since then, each summer has been blighted by higher than average rainfall. The British Isles experienced a similar series of wet summers in the 1880s, 1950s and early 1960s.

Forecasters met in Exeter, in the South West of England, last month to discuss the reasons for 2010's icy winter, the coldest on record, and for this spring, the coldest in more than 50 years.

Stephen Belcher, head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, which investigates climate change, said: "The key question is: what is causing the jet stream to shift in this way? There is some research to say some parts of the natural system load the dice to influence certain states of the jet stream but this loading may be further amplified by climate change."

Ask your students to interview their parents and grandparents about their recollections of holiday activities during very hot summers of their youth, or very wet ones. This will highlight the different holiday activities - and expectations - of children of previous generations. Do your students still want to play outside when it is wet? What would they do instead?

In Britain, the summer of 1976 was the hottest since records began. The average temperature during June, July and August was 17.77 degsC, compared with an average during 2001-08 of 16.3 degsC, according to the Met Office.

Expand the discussion in your classroom to include the weather in Middle Eastern countries and in Australia, where it is sometimes too hot to play outside. Or introduce students to countries that experience light summer nights on which the sun scarcely sets.

Younger students may think that this sounds like great fun but point out that they may have trouble getting to sleep. And explain to children that, in contrast, the citizens of these countries may see very little daylight in the winter months. Perhaps your students won't then feel so bad about facing a wet summer in Britain.

CLASS QUESTIONS

Which country has the driest summers and which the wettest?

Where in the world does the summer sun last almost all night? How would you get to sleep in those conditions?

What is the best weather for a holiday? What are your favourite holiday activities?

How does it affect the planet when we use air conditioning to keep cool or burn fuel to keep warm?

PERSONAL, SOCIAL AND HEALTH EDUCATION

MAKE A PLAY DATE

Most children need little encouragement to play outdoors but creating the right environment for them to play safely, while teaching them basic key skills that will help them to learn throughout their lives, takes a little more thought from teachers.

The National Children's Bureau has launched a campaign to coincide with Britain's national day for play, Playday, on 7 August, to help teachers, schools and communities make all outdoor areas safe and healthy places to play.

Playday 2013: Playful Places is encouraging schools and communities to hold events that celebrate children's right and freedom to play. The campaign is aiming to build children's self-confidence and imagination by teaching them skills such as analysing risk and making decisions for themselves.

One of the simplest ideas involves kitting children out with blankets and chairs, and allocating a playground area where they can make a den. Hold a picnic or introduce bags of sand and buckets to create a beach environment.

Weather permitting, you might choose to take some of your classes outdoors, incorporating nature and play in your lessons.

Playday is coordinated by Play England, Play Wales, Play Scotland and PlayBoard Northern Ireland.

For information about events in your region, or for ideas on how to set up an event, go to www.playday.org.uk

ENGLISH

THE SECRET OF BLYTON'S SUCCESS

Enid Blyton (1897-1968) was the best-selling English author of the 20th century and her books still captivate young people today. These were often serialised and, responding to the adoration of her young readers, Blyton set up the Famous Five Club and Enid Blyton's Magazine.

Now Seven Stories, a national centre for children's books in the North of England, has launched Mystery, Magic and Midnight Feasts - the first exhibition to celebrate Blyton's life. The show includes typescripts and rare artefacts, such as the original hand-corrected notes for Five Have Plenty of Fun (1955), Look Out, Secret Seven (1962) and Cheer Up Little Noddy (1960).

Also included in the exhibition are Harmsen van der Beek's first Noddy illustration (1949), Blyton's typewriter and photographs of the author as a child.

Blyton's books still inspire children to read. For those who are unable to visit the exhibition, a digital version will be soon be available from the Seven Stories website.

For more information, visit www.sevenstories.org.uk

FURTHER RESOURCES

Use this comprehensive workbook from ladysarahC to navigate your way through Enid Blyton's Five on a Treasure Island. bit.lyblytonworkbook

Matilda Maxwell's worksheets help students to make observations about local habitats in outdoor science lessons. bit.lyoutdoorscience

Record temperature, rainfall, wind speed and cloud cover in this week-long diary from naturedetectives. bit.lyweatherdiary

Prepare for all seasons with cal22's resource, which offers activities and resources for different types of weather. bit.lyweatherboxes

Where in the world am I? In this lesson from alext1985, students guess the identities of six countries based on temperature and rainfall data. bit.lyWorldWeather

SCIENCE

KEEPING A WEATHER EYE ON THE SKY

How do forecasters predict whether the weather will be cold, wet or hot? Try a quick, fun and easily digestible way for children in key stages 1-2 (aged 5-11) to learn about forecasting the weather.

Rain or Shine is a daily weather forecast prepared and presented by the UK's Met Office. A daily resource for teachers is also available, with lesson plans designed to support the national curriculum.

The forecasts are available via the Met Office Education YouTube channel, which also offers simple weather experiments that can be carried out in the classroom and videos to help children understand climate.

Mat Richardson, education manager of the Met Office, said: "Our education pages provide teachers with a variety of resources that cover key stages 1-4 of the national curriculum. Rain or Shine offers teachers another fun, interactive way to support their lesson plans."

The experiments offer practical ways to study thermal winds, precipitation and surface friction. But lesson plans are also available on climate change, weather fronts and even Captain Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the Antarctic during 1910-12.

RELATED RESOURCES

Try a meteorological exploration with this web quest from nationalmuseums. bit.lyweatherwebquest

Explore the world of the Secret Seven with teachers' notes from hodderchildrens. bit.lyblytonnotes

Investigate ways of measuring the playground in this outdoor mathematics activity from carrie4. bit.lyoutdoormaths

Discuss extreme weather in Britain, then forecast the weather in 2050. bit.lyfutureweather.

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