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What is a Cloud?

Lesson Title: What is a Cloud?

Subject: Science

Grade: Kindergarten, First, Second

Topic or Unit of Study: Weather

Objective: Students will be able to 1. State what clouds are made of and compare various clouds to 2. Determine that no two look the same.

Time Allotment: 50 minutes-1 hour

Materials: Book “It Looked Like Spilt Milk” by Charles G. Shaw, weather journal (1 per child), blue construction paper (1 per child), paintbrushes, white tempura paint, compact mirrors (1 per student), small container for used mirrors, small cups of water, a sponge, coffee filters, black markers, scissors, paper towels, eye droppers, and clouds in the sky

Learning Context: This lesson is the second in a unit on weather.

Anticipatory Set: With students gathered outdoors, state the objective. Ask students to look up at the clouds and state some of the things they notice about them. Students should notice that no two clouds look the same. Many may notice that some clouds resemble objects in their environment–cars, animals, etc. Ask students to imagine themselves reaching up high into the sky and actually touching one of those clouds. What would it feel like? What do they think they are made of? As the students give their answers, write their ideas down for future study on weather topics. Tell students that clouds are a lot like sponges and you are going to show them how.

Direct Instruction/Guided Practice: Provide students with a small compact mirror and asked them to breathe on the mirror. Ask them what they see. The students should notice that the mirror gets fog on it and then tiny water droplets form on the mirror (if this isn’t visible, have the children wipe the mirror and feel that it is damp). Tell students that even though clouds look different, they are all made up of tiny droplets of water even smaller than what they see on their mirrors. And when a cloud gets too full of those tiny droplets that the cloud will drop rain. Ask for a volunteer to help demonstrate this by pouring water on a sponge until it can’t hold any more. Instruct students to carefully put their mirrors in a container. Allow students time to draw some of the clouds they see. Encourage students to have one drawing show the inside of a cloud (what it is made up of). Return to the classroom. Allow students to share some of their drawings. As a class, briefly discuss the different drawings and the different shapes of the clouds. Ask students if they saw two clouds that looked exactly the same. Ask students if any of the clouds resembled things in the environment-a car, an animal, etc. Reiterate what clouds are made of and add any new vocabulary to the board or chart paper to solidify concepts.

Introduce students to the book It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw. As the book is read, ask questions about the clouds and have students recall what a cloud is made of. The students will then be introduced to the activity.  Tell students that they are going to complete two activities–one that represents that no two clouds look the same and another that represents that clouds are made up of tiny droplets of water that eventually form rain.

Independent Practice: Students will work in two stations. The first station will be to produce a cloud that resembles spilt milk. The second station will be to create a rain drop using tiny water droplets.

Station 1: Each student will be given a blue sheet of construction paper turned horizontally. The students will be instructed to fold the paper in half and open it up. With a paintbrush and white tempura paint, students will apply paint in “dabs” to one side of the fold. When finished, the students will refold the paper as they did with the first fold. Students will rub the folded paper to make sure the paint inside gets pressed. The paper will then be opened to reveal an image. Students will be asked to use their imagination to tell what object the “cloud” in their picture represents. Teacher or child will write the title on the picture.

Station 2: Each student will be given a coffee filter, a pair of scissors, a back marker, a small cup of water, a paper towel (should be strong), and a clean eye dropper. Students will be instructed to cut the coffee filter like a rain drop (provide an example or provide dashed lines on each for children to cut). Next, students should place the filter on the paper towel and use the black marker to make marks on the coffee filter. Once completed, students will add drops of water to make the marks “bleed”. Instruct students to not saturate the filter, but to simply make the color fade. When finished, allow filters to dry.

Closure: Review the “Big Ideas” from the lesson. Allow students an opportunity to walk around at each desk to see the different clouds made.

Assessment: Throughout the lesson, each student will be assessed on their participation in the group discussion and lesson activities as well as their ability to follow directions. They will also be assessed on their ability to: 1. State what a cloud is made of (through informal questioning) 2. Determine that no two look the same.

Extensions: This activity offers a great lead into symmetry and a great creative writing opportunity.


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