03 August 2011


Oliver has recently become obsessed with tornadoes.  It started a few months ago when we had to wake him out of bed to go sit in our bathtub, all while the tornado sirens sounded.  Then, this happened again during the night the Joplin tornado hit the Missouri area.  And now, it has become a daily series of questions about how and why tornadoes hit.  Oliver is fascinated.

"Why do tornadoes hit houses?"  "Why does the tornado go fast?"  "Does it sometimes not hit houses?"  "Does it hit the cars?"  "If a tornado comes to my house, it will not come because we have a fence."  "Will the tornado suck me up?"  These are just some of the questions we get pegged with on a daily basis.

So, in an effort to satisfy Oliver's curiosity and teach him about how things work, I promptly went to the store and bought a $2 plastic "twister piece" that allows us to make tornadoes all day long.

Bennett has loved it as much as Oliver.

Bennett is saying, "ooooh!" in this picture.  He doesn't know what we're doing but he thinks it's fun.

Oliver was mesmerized by this little tornado.  He kept asking if it would hurt him and if it would hurt other people.  We kept trying to explain it was a pretend tornado.  He seems to understand the word "pretend" fairly well.

Oliver tries to make it work, with Dad's help.

I have to admit.  Brian and I have loved this tornado too.  I caught Brian playing with it this morning.  It's pretty fun to watch.

We watch it again...

and again...

and again...

...all the way down.

And when we're bored with our own tornado, we often turn to YouTube instead.

But before we started making our own tornadoes and watching tornado videos on the computer, we went to the bookstore (faster than the library when you're on a time-sensitive feeding schedule) to find some books on tornadoes.  The only book we could find was one that was most appropriate for a 12 year old.

But Oliver has LOVED it.  I wasn't going to buy it for him at first because it was too advance.  But we sat in the bookstore for 15 minutes with me reading what sounded like the encyclopedia...and he ate it up!  He probably knew every third word but he listened as intently as if I was reading a children's story book.

Oliver wants to know what every picture is about.  He thought the colored graphic detailing tornado alley on the US map was showing him where the tornadoes currently are (as in the present moment).  So, we are also learning about the concept of maps and what they tell us.  Each night, we watch the news and are currently following the path of Tropical Storm Emily (which we call the "tornado on water").  It's as though we were watching the movie Cars.  He can't get enough.

It's been fun to see our little guy start to try to make sense of his world.  We're in the stage of 100 questions.  (Today's biggest question was "Did you come from God?" and "Why does God make us have night time and go to sleep?")  My father had one of the best pieces of advice for this time in little kids' lives.  He recommended that any time we are being pegged with a million questions, we should make time to sit down with Oliver and just explain information on the subject as complete as possible, giving him more information than what he might be asking for, an effort to satisfy his intense curiosity and questions on the topic.  My father reminded us that children are sponges soaking up how the world around them works and they need lots of information during this time.  This has been wonderful advice and we are seeing Oliver learn tons from these experiences.

I'm so glad we can satisfy Oliver's interest on tornadoes.    (Let's hope he never wants to actually chase one of these things!)


  1. Love this post, Breck! I am excited for Daniel to start having questions about the world.

    I've been afraid of tornadoes for ten years and have really bad dreams about them. I nearly drove into one when I was 18, which is probably why. I wonder when children get the concept of fearing a tornado, if its before or after they understand the concept of death.

    Note: where did you find that twister piece?

  2. That's so cool Breck! Maybe you have a budding scientist! I have a cousin who's about 12 who's been obsessed with reading science fact kind of books from a young age. It's so fun to see them excited to learn.

  3. Love Oliver's face in these photos! Maybe a future meterologist???

  4. I love the looks on Oliver's face. I bet you could find a Magic School Bus episode on tornadoes. It might be a little old for him but it might help answer some of his questions. What an inquisitive little scientist! I love it.

    Where did you find the connector piece?
    Mrs. Laura


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