ARTSEDGE Lessons for Elementary School

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Discover characteristics of the wind through pantomime, painting, and systems of measurement


Key Staff

This lesson may be taught by a general classroom teacher or science teacher. Input from an art or theater teacher may be helpful.

Key Skills

Making Art: Producing, Executing and Performing
Developing Arts Literacies: Analyzing and Evaluating - Critique


In this lesson students are introduced to and encouraged to explore characteristics of the wind through poetry and van Gogh’s paintings. Students will utilize this information by learning how to classify and measure the wind by studying the Beaufort Scale and building an anemometer. Then, they will reinterpret characteristics of the wind by representing them through pantomime and painting.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Discuss how the wind is employed in selected poems and van Gogh’s paintings
  • Use the Beaufort Scale to classify the wind
  • Study and build an anemometer
  • Utilize pantomime to demonstrate Beaufort Scale ratings
  • Create ‘wind’ paintings and relate them to the Beaufort Scale

Teaching Approach

Arts Enhanced

Teaching Methods

  • Hands-On Learning
  • Reflection
  • Discussion
  • Experiential Learning
  • Simulations and Games

Assessment Type

Informal Assessment


What You'll Need

Required Technology
  • 1 Computer per Classroom
  • Projector
  • Speakers
Required Plugins
Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

You should be familiar with the principles of wind and wind measurement.

  • Background information on the wind
  • Information about the Beaufort Scale
  • Information about the history and purpose of anemometers

You should be familiar with van Gogh and his landscape paintings.

Prior Student Knowledge

Students should be familiar with different weather types and patterns. To help familiarize students with the principles of weather, you may wish to use the following resources:

  • Games to help learn about the weather
  • Students may look up the weather for their area
  • Practice reporting and predicting the weather

Physical Space

  • Classroom
  • Auditorium


  • Individualized Instruction
  • Small Group Instruction


The video in step #2 of the Bauild Knowledge section may take a few moments to upload. It may help to pause the video to allow time for it to upload before playing it.

Prior to teaching this lesson, follow the video instructions (from the Build Knowledge section) to build an anemometer to make sure it works. All the corrugated cardboard strips should be of the same size (suggested size: 1.5” x 12”). Teachers may wish to cut the tops off of the Styrofoam cups ahead of time.

For the pantomime activity in the Apply section, print out another set of the Beaufort Scale to hand out to the groups. Assign a different rating (Force 0-12) to each group by highlighting one of the rows on the scale.

If using tempera paint to make the wind paintings in the Apply section mix it with water so that the consistency is less thick and the paint will move when blown.

Accessibility Notes

Students with physical disabilities may need modified movements.


Resources in Reach

Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.



1. Describe the wind. Ask students to think of words or phrases that describe the wind. Explain that there are ‘degrees’ of wind. For example, describe the difference between a gentle breeze and a gale force wind. Explain to students that it might be hard to describe the wind because we can’t actually see it. Since we cannot see it, we must look at its effects in order to describe it.

2. Read poems about the wind. Distribute copies of and read Who Has Seen the Wind? by Christina Rossetti and read or play The Wind by Robert Louis Stevenson. Afterwards discuss them with the class using these questions as prompts:

  • How do the authors show that the wind is present? (possible answers: trembling leaves, bowed trees, flying kites, strong and cold feeling)
  • Do we need to feel the wind or observe its effects to know it is there? (answers will vary; ask students to explain their answer)
  • How does the author feel about the wind? (possible answers: the wind is mysterious, frightening, powerful)

3. View paintings by van Gogh. Display landscape paintings by van Gogh that include representations of the wind:

For each painting ask students the following questions:

  • How can they ‘see’ the wind in the paintings? (possible answers: movement in the wheat fields, clouds, water, sails, etc.)
  • How did the painter achieve the feeling of wind in the painting? (possible answers: swirling the paint, thick brushstrokes, strong colors, wavy lines)

What would it feel like to be inside the painting? (answers will vary; ask students to explain their answer)

Build Knowledge

1. Learn about the Beaufort Scale. Explain to students that since you can’t see the wind itself, scientists describe it by measuring wind speed and observing its effects. Hand out the Beaufort scale and discuss each of the ratings (Forces 0-12) and view sea images to illustrate them. (Teachers will need to click on each sea state photo found in the Beaufort Scale chart.)

2. Observe an anemometer. Tell students that scientists have developed many ways to measure the wind. One way is an anemometer, which can measure wind speed and direction. Play the video (pausing to clarify vocabulary and concepts) and ask the students how they think the anemometer would respond to different Beaufort Scale ratings. For example, the anemometer might turn very quickly and be whipped back and forth during a Force 10 wind.

3. Build an anemometer. Follow and/or show the video instructions to build an anemometer. Display the finished product beforehand and demonstrate and verbally explain each step during the process. If the day is windy test the anemometers outside or create wind in the classroom using a fan.


Students will participate in two activities to help them conceptualize the wind.

1. Pantomime the wind. Explain that pantomime is acting without talking and then tell students that they will pretend to be trees and act out what the trees would look like based on the Beaufort Scale rating they are assigned. Follow the steps below:

  • Divide students into pairs or small groups (13 groups total).
  • Provide each group with a Beaufort Scale (every group will have a different rating highlighted).
  • Allow groups time to discuss their pantomime. Answers questions and clarify information about assigned ratings.
  • Allow each group 30 seconds to perform their pantomime.
  • Ask the audience to identify the rating that is being represented.
  • After all the groups have completed their pantomime, discuss with the class how this helped them to understand what the Beaufort Scale ratings mean.

2. Create ‘wind’ paintings. Tell students they will create wind paintings using their own breath. Demonstrate and provide verbal instructions for the below steps:

  • Hand out paper and straws and place two blobs of paint in the center of the paper. (Teachers may wish to allow students to choose their colors.)
  • Blow through a straw to move the paint around the paper. Vary the strength of the breath and the direction of movement to create different effects.
  • Optional: If time allows, students may use a paintbrush to add scenery, which reflects the effects of the wind, to their painting. For example, if a student adds a tall field of grass, the grass might be bent to show movement by the wind.
  • After the paintings are completed, post them around the classroom. Ask students to observe the paintings and see if they can assign a Beaufort Scale rating to wind in the painting.

Discuss with the class how changing the strength of the breath and their movements affected the paintings and how this relates to the Beaufort Scale. Ask them if their choice of color made their wind look more or less intense.


1. Journal about wind activities. Have students respond to the pantomime and painting activities by journaling about the following questions:

  • How did the activities help you understand the wind?
  • Which activity most helped you to understand the wind and its effects? Why?

2. Class discussion about journal entries. After students have finished journaling, reconvene the class and ask student to share their responses. Make sure that students understand how the strength and movement of the wind has different effects on objects and that the Beaufort Scale helps us to categorize this.


Assess your student's work using the Assessment Rubric located within the Resource Carousel.


Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.

The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the National Core Arts Standards (http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.

ArtsEdge Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.

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Karen Smith
Original Writer

Jill Gerlman

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