Clouds Teaching Box

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Students looking through Cloud Viewers to identify cloud types in the sky

Clouds are both universal and mysterious. The science of clouds helps students feel closer to the sky and in awe of nature as they learn elementary concepts of physics, the water cycle, and atmospheric science. Explore the educational resources in this teaching box and bring cloud science to your elementary students.

The UCAR Center for Science Education Teaching Boxes are themed collections of classroom-ready educational resources to build student understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Resources highlighted within teaching boxes are from various science education programs and all have been vetted by the the Center's education team.

  • Topic: Clouds
  • Level: Upper elementary

Observing Clouds

People holding up newspapers outside

Goal: Students learn how to observe and describe clouds.

Activity: Students use a guide to identify cloud types outside. There are several cloud identification guides available, and additional resources online to help students learn about cloud types. An activity back in the classroom helps solidify and assess student learning about cloud types.

 

How Clouds Form

Drawing of Glove in Jar

Goal: Students learn about the ingredients needed to make a cloud, and the role that air pressure and temperature play in cloud formation.

Activity: Students experiment with a simple model to learn about the ingredients needed to make a cloud, and the role that air pressure and temperature play in cloud formation. Student learning is assessed through a writing assignment in which students describe a plan for how they would fill their classroom with clouds.

 

How Clouds Change

Clouds in Sky

Goal: Students learn that clouds change over time.

Activity: Students use the skills they developed in observing and identifying clouds (part 1) and what they learned about how and why clouds form (part 2) to build understanding of how and why clouds change over time. Students develop scientific questions and, with teacher facilitation, design a hypothesis and research project to investigate how clouds change over time.