Clouds are an essential part of the weather monitoring unit, they can be incorporated throughout the whole project. In our 3rd grade classroom as part of our weather monitoring project we did a project called "Cloud Types", which looked at the different types of clouds. We looked at 10 different clouds, with the class split into pairs, each pair was assigned a certain cloud, The class made their own fun powerpoints on the information they found on their cloud. The students were able to use technology and improve their skills on Safari, Word and Powerpoint.  

Since clouds are very easy to observe,the student will be able to gain more experience observing, since there are many types of clouds. The students did a second project called "Cloud Observation". The students were to look at the clouds and predicted what type of weather might happen in the area. As part of the project, the students were to look at the data their epals collected in Australia, since the students did the same project, and also predict what type of weather might happen in the area. 

A great activity would be to create a portable cloud. The students will be able to observe, up close, how moisture, cooling temperatures and condensation play a role in cloud formation. We also looked at the how each type of cloud can bring different types weather. 

Here are a few websites that I found helpful for myself and also that can be helpful for your students. This lesson planing website is great, it has great creative ideas for cloud lesson plans but you can use it for other subjects as well. We found a helpful website about clouds, its very easy to understand. The Weather Channel has a great website just for kids, its is a very fun website for students to use. A great interactive website called Tree House Weather Kids was put together by the University of Illinois Extension. It is a very informational it involves different aspects of weather, there are also activities students can play.

What is a Cloud??

Clouds are a large collection of very small droplets of water. (It can also be very small droplets of ice crystals) These droplets are so small and so light that they float in the air. All air contains water, near the ground it is in the form of water vapor, invisible gas. When warm air rises, it expands and cools. Cool air can't hold the same amount of water vapor as warm air, so some of the vapor condenses onto tiny pieces of dust that are floating in the air and forms tiny droplets around each dust particle. When billions of these droplets come together they become visible, in the form of a cloud. There are four categories of clouds: Low Clouds, Middle Clouds, High Clouds and Vertical Growth Clouds.

Cloud Group Cloud Types
High Clouds
  • There are three types of high clouds: Cirrocumulus, Cirrus, and Cirrostratus clouds. They stay above 18,000 feet. 
    • Cirrus are the most common of the High Clouds. They are entirely of ice and consist of long, thin, wispy streamers. Cirrus clouds are usually white and are associated with fair weather. 
    • Cirrocumulus appear as small, rounded white puffs that usually appear in long rows. Cirrocumulus are usually white, but sometimes are gray. Usually seen in the winter time and indicate fair, but cold weather. 
    • Cirrostratus seem sheetlike thin clouds that usually cover the entire sky. There clouds are associated with rain or snow storms and usually come 12-24 hours before. 

Middle Clouds
  • There are two types of middle clouds that stay between 6,000 to 20,000 feet: Altocumulus and Altostratus Clouds
    • Altocumulus are puffy masses, sometimes rolled out in parallel waves or bands. These clouds are associated with warm humid morning, then expect thunderstorms by late afternoon. 
    • Altostratus usually covers the whole sky and has a gray or blue-gray appearance. They usually form ahead of storms with continuous rain or snow. 

Low Clouds
  • There are three types of low clouds: Stratus, Cumulus, and Stratocumulus clouds. They stay below 6,000 feet.
    •  Stratus Clouds are uniform gray and can cover most or all of the sky. Stratus clouds can look like a fog that doesn't reach the ground. Light mist or drizzle are sometimes associated with the stratus clouds.
    • Stratocumulus Clouds are low, lumpy, and gray. They look like cells under a microscope, sometimes they line up in rows and other times they are spread out. only light precipitation, generally drizzle, occurs with these clouds
    • Nimbostratus Clouds are dark gray and associated with continuous rain or snow. Sometimes they cover the whole sky and you can't see the edges of the clouds 
Clouds with Vertical Growth
  • There are two types of clouds with Vertical Growth: Cumulus and Cumulonimbus Clouds.
    • Cumulu are puffy white or a light gray that look like floating cotton balls. Can be associated with good or bad weather. There are two types of Cumulu clouds: Cumulus humilis clouds, which are associated with fair weather and Cumulus congestus clouds, which are associated with bad weather. 
    • Cumulonimbus are known as thunderstorm clouds. Can grow up 6.2 miles and at this hight, high winds flatten the top of the cloud out into an anvil-like shape. These clouds are associated with heavy rain, snow, hail, lightning, and tornadoes. 

  • These clouds grow high up into the atmosphere rather than spreading across the sky. These clouds are usually associated with the most interesting and severe weather on Earth. 

Amber Parker