Clouds have their own names and places in the sky. The highest clouds are called cirrus and are thin, feathery type clouds. Cumulus clouds are
the big fluffy clouds that children and adults find pretend figures. Last are the stratus clouds, which are like large blankets that wrap around the bottom of the sky. If possible, take a walk with the children and look for these clouds in the sky.
Clouds are a visible collection of a large number of tiny water droplets or ice particles being carried by currents in the air. Some clouds promise fair weather and others warn of storms. When the clouds hold too much water, it will rain.
Make a Cloud
In the classroom, teachers can make a homemade cloud and rain. Heat some water in a teakettle (if a cooking surface is available) and when the water boils the children can see steam or a “cloud" appear. Hold an aluminum pie pan in the steam. The pan will cool the cloud and drops of “rain" will fall from the cloud. (Be sure to supervise the children and keep a distance away from the boiling water and steam.) Another appliance that makes steam is a vaporizer.
Children may ask, “How did the water get into the cloud?" Use this simple experiment to try to answer this question. Place water in a jar and place a piece of masking tape at the water line. Leave the jar uncovered overnight. Check the jar in the morning to see where the water is compared to the line. Tell the children that the water has evaporated or in a simpler form, the water has been pulled up into the air and formed into a cloud.
The children can show where each of the three main types of clouds can be found. Fold a sheet of blue construction paper into thirds horizontally. Label each section as follows: the top section – cirrus, the middle section – cumulus, and the bottom section – stratus.
To make cirrus clouds, invite the children to dip a feather into white paint to make wispy-type prints in the top section. Have them dip cotton balls into the paint to make cluster-type prints that look like cumulus clouds in the center section. And last, use a sponge dipped in paint and pulled across the bottom section to look like low stratus clouds in the sky.
Looking up at the clouds, what do I see? (look upward)
A lion in a cage staring at me. (make claws with hands)
It seems if I stretch with all my might, (stretch)
I could touch the cloud all right.
Looking up again, what do I see?
The cage is gone and the lion is free.
The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola
Little Cloud by Eric Carle
It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw
Little Cloud and Lady Wind by Toni Morrison
Access and Conclusion
Show pictures of clouds to the children and ask them to tell you what part of the sky they can be found. Some children may be able to name the type of cloud. Ask the children which cloud they like the best and why.
Spark the children’s imaginations as they watch clouds float in the sky. They are interesting to watch and fun to find pretend animals, faces, and shapes. Clouds can also reinforce and build upon your lesson plans on weather.