Cloud Naming Lesson: 3 Types of Clouds

› Clouds

What could be more fun when finishing up a unit on clouds than painting them with puffy paint? This cloud naming lesson is so much fun, and really shows if the students have developed a strong metacognition about the topic. 

lesson on naming the different types of cloudsTypes of Clouds Poster
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One of our content strands is the atmosphere.  It's huge, so by necessity we have to break it down into manageable chunks.  

Although it isn't necessary for younger students to know the exact names for the different types of clouds, they do have to recognize and predict the type of weather that is associated with certain clouds.  Kids should be able to look up in the sky and understand when a storm may be coming or why there aren't any clouds in the atmosphere.

It is actually a natural extension to go ahead and introduce the names of the three basic types of formations when talking about clouds:

  • stratus
  • cumulus
  • cirrus

We also did the usual cloud in a bottle experiment to help them understand how they are formed.

Puffy Paint Cloud Naming Lesson  - A Summative Assessment

Below is a short slide show of our cloud lesson.  The first frame is of the poster we wrote about what we THOUGHT we knew about clouds.  If you look carefully, you can read some very funny insights into the children's thinking!

It then moves on to how we finished up our cloud naming lesson unit - simple yet incredibly effective!

Click the speaker icon in the top left corner to start the music and slide show, and click it again to turn off the music when it is finished.  

The directions for this cloud naming lesson are below.

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Teacher Tip:  Make the puffy paint in advance.  It will keep for an hour or so.

  1. Hand out white construction paper rectangles, the same size as 1/4 of a large blue piece of construction paper.  Instruct the students to illustrate their neighborhood, including houses and trees, but NO clouds.
  2. Hand each student a blue sheet of construction paper.  Show them how to fold it into four equal sections.
  3. Their illustrations need to be glued on the the bottom rectangle.
  4. Write the three main cloud types on the board, but not in the order they appear in the sky (for example: cumulus, stratus, cirrus)
  5. Instruct the students to label each rectangle with one of the cloud types.  They must write the correct type in the place where it would occur in the atmosphere relative to the earth (stratus clouds are closer to the ground, cumulus clouds are mid-level clouds, and cirrus clouds are very high)
  6. After labeling, the children need to use their pencils to draw an outline of each type of cloud.
  7. Hand out paintbrushes and cups of puffy paint.  The students are to paint their clouds.  You may want to give some tips for cloud painting, such as how to make feathery strokes or use a dabbing motion to make bigger puffs
  8. After they have finished their puffy cloud pictures, allow the children some time to use the rest of the paint to simply be creative.  They absolutely love this and will spend hours with it if you let them (painting spelling words maybe?)

Oh, why is it called Puffy Paint?  It is so cool - when it dries, it is puffy!  You can push it in with your finger and it feels like a marshmallow and bounces back.  

Serious fun for young kids (and adults).

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