Objective: Students will do a series of activities to learn about clouds and weather.
Materials: paper, pencils, cloud maker (20 oz plastic soda bottle) and matches, water,
"A Guide To The Sky" poster (for display)
Background: Clouds are water. Either small liquid water drops or tiny pieces of ice.
Meteorologists rank clouds according to their height and whether or not they are flat or
Clouds form when the air rises. As a blob of air rises it expands and gets colder, the
colder air cannot hold as much water as warm air. As the temperature and air pressure
continue to drop, tiny water droplets group together into clumps called cloud droplets. At
this point, the blob of air becomes a visible cloud.
This activity is designed to help students become familiar with 3 basic types of clouds.
Make a list of words on the board that could be used to describe the shapes of clouds.
Students may suggest cotton balls, cauliflower, blanket, cotton candy, horestails, etc.
Make a diagram of the 3 basic cloud shapes: stratus (flat clouds); cumulus (heaped or
puffy clouds); cirrus (thin or wispy clouds).
Ask students to copy the words onto a sheet of paper, using columns to form 3 groups.
Ask them to group the words according to similar forms. Example: the words blanket,
layer, and frosting might all be put together because they all describe flattened cloud
shapes. Similarly, the words cotton balls, cauliflower, and mashed potatoes, might all be
grouped together because they all describe "heaped" or "puffy" cloud shapes.
Next, have the students share their results.
Complete the Rainmakers Activity in "Arty Facts, Weather & Art Activities", pages 6 and
7. This activity will help students understand the connection between clouds and storms.
It will also introduce another type of cloud, "Cumulonimbus" - storm clouds.
AN ADULT MUST DO THIS ACTIVITY. FIRE IS INVOLVED!
Put a small amount of warm water into the bottle - enough to cover the bottom.
Light the match, then blow it out.
Hold the match near the nozzle of the bottle, letting the smoke from the match fill the
bottle. After a few seconds, the smoke will seem to disappear, but the invisible particles
are still floating around in the bottle.
Screw the cap on the bottle being careful not to let too much smoke out.
Squeeze the sides of the bottle really hard 6 or 7 times (more squeezing may be
necessary). Squeeze the bottle again and hold for a few seconds then quickly release
the squeeze. When you release the squeeze, a cloud should form in the bottle.
Visual Arts, Science, Reading
SD Standards for 4th grade:
4.E.1.1; 4.E.1.2; Nature of Science
Indicator 2; 4.P.1.3
Prior Preparation: Watch "Weather
For Children, All About Wind and
Clouds". This DVD gives a good
explanation about teh make up of
clouds. Hang the "A Guide To The
Sky" poster up in your classroom and
do the Weather Tracker activities each