While clouds are not a difficult concept to teach or learn, they often present a challenge in keeping the lesson interesting. The explanation of cloud formation, for example, can quickly become boring at any grade level. An understanding of clouds and cloud formation, however, is important to studies of weather and the water cycle, so students need to fully understand the lesson. As a result, teachers need creative, interesting ways of teaching about clouds.
Teaching a unit on clouds can easily present activities for more subjects than just science. For example:
Science. Perform an experiment that shows students how clouds form. Tape a black piece of paper on one side of an empty jar, then fill the jar one-third full of warm water. Light a match and hold it in the jar for a few seconds. Drop the match into the water and quickly cover the jar with a small bag of ice. Shine a flashlight on the jar and let students watch the cloud form. You can explain the cloud formation process before, during or after the experiment. You can also ask students to explain what they observed.
Art. Have students fold a sheet of blue paper into fourths, creating four boxes. Label each box with a type of cloud, and have students create the cloud using cotton balls. Students could also draw the cloud formation process.
Math. Students can create a table or chart for recording how many times they see each type of cloud each day. At the end of the week, they can create a graph to show total views of each type or total views per day for each type.
Writing. Ask students to write in a science journal about the cloud formation process. Better yet, have students write stories and/or poems about clouds or from a cloud’s point of view.
Some other ideas for teaching clouds include:
Use a storyboard to illustrate cloud formation.
- Use color photographs to show the different types of clouds.
- Students can create cloud collages using a cloud type and the weather commonly associated with that cloud.
- Use pictures of clouds with their names written on them to create Cloud Concentration for students to play. Alternatively, pictures of the clouds with cards that have the cloud names can be used to play Cloud Matching, where students match the cloud to its name.
- Make a class book about clouds. The book can include all of the creative activities the students do while learning about clouds. An alternate version would be to create a book for each student using their work. Even charts and graphs from the mat activities could be included in their books. The book serves to let parents know what their children are studying, as a last-day reminder of the information for the student, and as a point of pride for the student on a job well done.
- Cloud formation, types of clouds, and the weather associated with the different types of clouds are all easy information for students to learn and remember, provided the information is presented in a way that holds their attention. By using creative techniques and incorporating the clouds lesson into other subjects, teachers can keep their students captivated throughout the lesson.