The weather lesson plan focuses on types of clouds.
Instructional Procedures for Clouds
- The Man Who Named the Clouds
- Cloud Key Wheel
- Cloud Finder
- Paper plates
- Metal fasteners
- Cloud Droplet Estimation
- Large Cotton Balls
- Blue construction paper
- Pictures of clouds
- It Looked Like Spilt Milk
- Now I Know What Makes the Weather
- A Drop Around the World
- White packing peanuts
- Clear boondoggle
- Clear glass jar
- Hot plate
- Pie tin
- Ice cubes
- Science journal
- Thunder Cake
- Cloud Droplet Estimation Page
Now I Know What Makes the Weather, by Janet Palazzo; ISBN 0-89375-655-5
The Kids' Book of Clouds and Sky, by Frank Staub; ISBN 1-4027-2806-9
The Man Who Named the Clouds, by Julie Hannah and John Holub; ISBN-13: 978-0-8075-
A Drop Around the World, by Barbara Shaw McKinney; ISBN 1-883220-72-6
The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story, by Neil Waldman; ISBN 0-7613-2347-3
Clouds, by Marion Dane Bauer; ISBN 0-689-85441-2
Rain, by Marion Dane Bauer; ISBN 0-689-85439-0
The Cloud Book, by Tomie dePaola; ISBN-10: 0823405311
The Rain Came Down, by David Shannon; ISBN 13: 9780439050210
It Looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles G. Shaw; ISBN 0-06-443159-2
Wacky Weather, by John Malam and Steve Fricker; ISBN 0689811896
Puddles, by Jonathan London; ISBN 9780140561753
The Water Cycle, by Helen Frost; ISBN 0-7368-0409-9
Clouds, by, Ted O'Hare; ISBN 1-58952-570-1
Down Comes the Rain, by Franklyn M. Branley; ISBN 0-613-04877-6
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatball, by Judi Barrett; ISBN 0-590-30384-8
Thunder Cake, by Patricia Palocco; ISBN 0-698-11581-3
Background for Teachers
Students should know that rain and snow come from the sky and/
or clouds. Teachers should know the different types of clouds: fair
weather clouds (cumulus), rain clouds (cirrus and stratus), and storm
(cumulonimbus) and what weather comes from each cloud. Cumulus
means "heap" in Latin; they are dark gray, low-level clouds forming at
2,000-4,000 feet and are mostly made of water droplets. Stratus means
"layer" in Latin; they are also low-level clouds forming up to 6,500 feet
and are a low, lumpy layer that can produce weak precipitation. Cirrus
means "curl" in Latin; they are high-level clouds forming above 20,000
feet and are primarily formed of ice crystals. Cumulonimbus means
"curl" in Latin; they are mid-level clouds forming at 1,600-39,000 feet,
and are large, vertical storm clouds. The tops of the cumulonimbus
clouds can reach 39,000 feet. They can develop into large, powerful
Intended Learning Outcomes
1. Demonstrate a positive learning attitude.
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.
Invitation to Learn
Have pictures of the different type of clouds--fair weather, rain
and storm (cumulus, cirrus, stratus, and cumulonimbus)--hanging
randomly around the room. Ask students to sit under the cloud that
matches their mood right then. Ask how students decided where to
sit. This is a good pre-assessment to see how much the students know
about the different cloud types.
Instructional Procedures for Clouds
- Pull out the pictures of storm clouds, rain clouds, and fair
weather clouds. Ask students to share what they know about
one or all clouds. Read parts of the book The Man Who Named
the Clouds, by Julie Hannah and John Holub, to your students.
- Ask students to write down the names of the different cloud
types in their science journals. Have them take notes as you
discuss the characteristics of each cloud type. A good way to
organize the cloud notes in their science journals is to have
your students make a T-chart. Students can write information
about the clouds on one side of the T-chart and on the other
side students can draw a picture of the clouds next to the
written information. Fair weather clouds (Cumulus) are made
of tiny water droplets, tall, puffy, and bright white in color with
sun shining on it. Rain clouds (Cirrus)--water collects to form
the curves, no clear shape, looks like curls of hair or string,
high in the sky, most water droplets turn to tiny ice drops.
Weak rain clouds (Stratus)--Lumpy layered clouds, holds little
water moisture, and produces weak rain storms. Thunder
storm clouds (Cumulonimbus)--can't hold all water droplets,
tall, puffy and gray. Rain, hail, and snow fall when heavy in the
cloud. (Use the background information to describe each cloud
- Cloud in a Bottle--Fill a two-liter bottle one-third full of warm
water and put on the cap. As the water evaporates, it adds
water vapor to the bottle. Shake the bottle to get rid of the
condensation on the sides. Remove the cap, light a match and
drop it in the bottle and quickly put the cap back on. Slowly
squeeze the bottle, then release. (The squeezing represents the
warming in the atmosphere and the releasing represents the
cooling.) A cloud will appear as you release, and disappear
as you squeeze. Explanation: Water vapor can be made to
condense into the form of small cloud droplets. By adding
particles such as smoke, it enhances the process of water
condensation; by squeezing the bottle, it causes the air pressure
- Ask your students if they have ever seen their breath when they
are outside. Tell them that when they blow out the warm air
from their mouth they make a cloud. A cloud is when warm air
hits cold air and forms water droplets.
- Make a cloud wheel for students to identify the different clouds
in the sky. Each student will receive the Cloud Key Wheel and
Cloud Finder handouts. Have students cut out the Cloud Key
Wheel and two window parts of the wheel. Next, have the
students cut out the Cloud Finder circle. Have students glue the
Cloud Finder circle to a paper plate for stability. Use a fastener
to fasten the two circles together with the Cloud Finder on the
bottom and the Cloud Key Wheel on the top with a fastener.
Invite students to go outside and search for different cloud
types. Ask them to identify a cloud type in the sky and find it
on their Cloud Wheel. Come back into the classroom and have
students share what cloud types they found. Are they all the
same? This is a great way to enhance discussion on clouds and
check for understanding.
- Pass out one piece of blue construction paper and one large
cotton ball to each student. Students are to make the different
cloud types on their blue paper using only one cotton ball
and glue. Have students place the clouds in order from high-
level clouds to surface clouds. Students may use their science
journals to help them with this task.
- After reading It Looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles G. Shaw,
students will create a page in a class book. Materials: blue
construction paper, white paint and white crayons. Have
students fold their paper horizontally, (hamburger), then open
their papers to lay flat. The teacher will put some paint in the
middle of the students' paper. The student will fold their paper
and smooth out the paint. The student will open their paper
and describe what they see. Have your students get out their
science journals and write down what they see. Let the paint
dry over night. The next day, students will write 'It looks like...'
on their paper. The teacher will bind the book and display it in
- After each student has made a cloud for the class book, have
your students make a cloud poem about their cloud they made.
Cloud Poems: title-name of cloud, first line--three adjectives
that describe the cloud, second line--three verbs related to
the cloud, third line-a phrase that tells about the cloud, fourth
line--name of the cloud or synonym.
- Read Now I Know What Makes the Weather, by Janet Palazzo, to
- Ask where weather comes from. List the weather words and
pictures on the board. This will create a discussion about
clouds and the weather that comes from clouds.
- Before starting the Weather Demonstration, talk about
how weather is always changing, and by doing the weather
demonstration you will show students how clouds pick up and
drop moisture (water). For the Weather Demonstration; ask for
two volunteers. Student One will act as the cloud and Student
Two will be the rain. Lay packing peanuts on the ground and
tell Student Two to pick up the peanuts and start to fill Student
One's cupped hands with them. Student One waits until his/
her hands are over flowing with packing peanuts before he/she
separates his/her hands and lets the packing peanuts fall to the
ground. Student Two starts all over by picking up the packing
peanuts and placing them in Student One's hands again.
- A Recipe for Weather Activity: Have your students pull out
their science journals. Tell your students that they will be
making a recipe of weather for a nice day, rainy day, or stormy
day. Brainstorm some possible ingredients on the board to
get students thinking. Some possible ingredients for fair day
weather are: blue skies, puffy white clouds, song birds, people
outside, sunshine, light breeze and warmer air. Stormy days:
dark skies, colder air, dark clouds, heavy wind (2 cups wind),
little to no people outside, sound of distant thunder. Rainy
days: dark skies, gray clouds, little wind (1 cup wind), cool
air, fewer people outside, sound of distant thunder. Go over
the format of a recipe. All ingredients are at the top with the
desired amounts. Instructions/directions are down below,
written in complete sentences.
- Make weather bracelets. Start with white for clouds, blue for
rain, clear for wind, yellow for sun, red for temperature, gold
for thunder/lightning. Each bead represents a type of weather.
- Read the book, A Drop Around the World, by Barbara Shaw
McKinney, to your class.
- Make rain in a jar. Heat up water to a boil using a hot plate
(check with building coordinator to okay the use of a hot plate
in classroom). Place boiling water in a clear glass jar. Take a
metal pie tin and place on top of the opening of the jar. Fill the
pie tin with ice cubes. Watch what happens as the ice cubes
begin to melt and cool down the jar of hot water. Explain that
rain is formed when warm air from Earth (our jar) meets cold
air from the sky (our ice cube in the pie tin).
- What makes a drop of rain? Have students tell you what a
raindrop is made of. Lead them into a discussion that tells
them that every raindrop is made of water droplets. Ask your
students to estimate how many water droplets are in one drop
of rain. Hand out the Cloud Droplet Estimation Page to your
students. Have your students estimate how many droplets are
in the drop of rain on their page. Next, have your students
circle groups of 5 or 10 droplets in the clouds. How many were
really there? Did your students make a good estimation? Tell
students that a drop of rain has as many as one million droplets
- Read Thunder Cake, by Patricia Palocco to your class. Talk
about the different sounds you hear when it starts to storm.
- Make the rain song by making the sounds of rain, thunder and
lightening. Divide your class into five groups. Group one starts
by rubbing their hands together--the sound of thunder rolling
in. Group two gently blows air out of their mouth--the sound
of wind. Group three snaps their fingers--the sound of rain
falling to the ground. Group four stomps their feet--the sound
of thunder. Lastly, group five claps their hands loudly--the
sound of lightning.
- Students can write a life story of a raindrop or snowflake as it
goes through its life.
- Make rain in class to show students how rain forms. See
- Make a class graph of each student's favorite cloud. Have each
student draw his or her favorite cloud on a 3 x 3 inch square.
Graph the class results.
- Are all raindrops the same? Wait for a rainy day to try this
observation. Go outside when it is raining. Hold a piece of
black construction paper out in the rain to gather raindrops.
Bring the paper inside and look at the spots made by the rain.
What do you see?
- Make water cycle bracelets. Start with a light blue bead for rain,
add a green bead for grass (accumulation on the ground), add a
yellow bead for the sun to start the process for evaporation, add
a clear bead to finish evaporation, and finally add a white bead
for clouds (accumulation of water vapors). Provide instructions
in a step-by-step process to clarify order and delivery of content.
- Read The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story, by Neil Waldman,
or A Drop Around the World, by Barbara Shaw McKinney, to
your class. Explain to students that the water cycle is a never-
ending cycle. Teach them the simple water cycle song and
hand movements to remember all stages in the water cycle:
Evaporation (hands go up), accumulation (fingers form a cloud
above their head), precipitation (fingers 'rain' down)--when
it rains, sung to La Cucaracha. Have some students shake the
hand maracas as the song is sung.
- Make a class recipe book out of the recipes your students made
- Encourage your student to watch the weather forecast on
television with you at night.
- Listen to the weather in the morning together and let your
student choose appropriate clothes to wear to school.
- Ask students to share what type of weather words are
represented by each color bead on their weather bracelet.
- Was each cloud represented in the cotton ball picture? Were
they in the correct height order?
- Read through the students "Life as a Raindrop" stories.
- Have a big "Cooking Pot" for weather in your classroom. In
the pot, place ingredients that are and are not for a good day or rainy day. Ask students to sort out the "real" ingredients from
the "fake" ingredients.
Margulies, N., (2001). Visual Thinking: Symbolic Ways Of Representing Ideas: A Need For
More Symbols. New Horizons for Learning, Sept/Oct/Nov/Dec 2001, Vol. VII, No. 4
As Aristotle said, "The soul never thinks without a mental image."
Our culture is one that communicates with icons and symbols.
Symbols and icons allow you to see parts of the whole. Making ideas
visible with both images and words is our process of thinking.
Margulies, N., (2001). Mindscaping: A Learning and Thinking Skill for All Students. New
Horizons for Learning, Sept/Oct/Nov/Dec 2001, Vol. VII, No. 4
Mindscaping is a way to make visual maps. It is a tool used to
record ideas and understand what you hear. Mindscaping is a form of note taking that engages the student to make sense of what is being
taught without writing long sentences and having a wandering mind.