Clouds are groups of tiny
droplets of water, or sometimes ice, that form around dust in the atmosphere.
Water remains suspended in the air, because the drops are so tiny, Clouds
are usually described by technical names (i.e., cumulus), but they can
also be described by what they look like (i.e., puffy). Usually learning
the technical names is not difficult for children, as long as they have
an associated image. Do not give the children these terms unless
you have pictures associated with them.
A system for naming clouds was developed
by Luke Howard, an English pharmacist in 1803. He identified
ten distinct categories of cloud, all of which are variations on three
basic cloud forms including puffy cumulus clouds, stratus clouds forming
in layers, and feathery cirrus clouds. This system proved so simple
and effective that it is basically used by meteorologists today.
Cirrus are high clouds which are
wispy, icy clouds which are often called "mare's tails." Cumulus
or puffy clouds are mid-level clouds that are packed close together which
are often called "cat's paw". Low clouds that are puffy but
gray means that there may be rain soon. Very low clouds are called
- Read the poem "Clouds" to
students. Go over the 3 major types of forms, cumulus, stratus,
and cirrus. Make sure they understand that "nimbus"
means a dark cloud, usually on the bottom portion of the cloud.
- The object
of this lab is for students to make a cloud chart. Give them the
lab sheet and have them make a "cloud chart," after you discuss the different
types of clouds. Show them the example of the different drawings
to help guide them. You can give them a blank piece of paper
and have them divide the paper into quarters.
- Take the students outside
to observe the clouds. Let them look at the clouds for a while and
have them come back and make the type of clouds they see on the lab sheet.
Note: you may have to wait for clouds in the sky to do this lab.
There is no right or wrong answer here. Just let them figure out
the next day or so if their guess was right, and let them know that weather
people are often wrong, too! If there are no clouds out, use the Cloud
Chart and have students look at the pictures.
- Have them describe the picture
orally what it looks like to the rest of the class. Give them cotton
balls and glue and tell them to construct the different clouds. The
next page is a sketch to guide your students to arrange the cotton