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Cloud Types

Lesson Plan

Cloud Types


In this unit, students will learn about cloud characteristics and how clouds can be helpful to humans. Students will:

  • identify the four basic cloud types.

  • differentiate between cloud types and associated weather conditions.

Essential Questions

  • What is the evidence that the Earth’s system changes?

  • What predictable patterns of change can be observed on and from Earth?


  • Cumulonimbus: Tall, large, and dense clouds associated with heavy rain or hail.

  • Cumulus: Puffy clouds.

  • Stratus: Layered, horizontal clouds with a flat base.

  • Cirrus: Thin, wispy, curly-shaped clouds.


45 minutes/2 class periods

Prerequisite Skills

Prerequisite Skills haven't been entered into the lesson plan.


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Formative Assessment

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    • Assess the general understanding level of the class by guiding students through a question-and-answer session following the story on clouds.

    • Assess the connection between clouds and the weather commonly associated with them through the Cloud Worksheet and construction activities. Provide feedback throughout the completion of both to direct students.

Suggested Instructional Supports

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    Scaffolding, Explicit Instruction

    Over the next few days, the class will explore how to identify different types of clouds. We will look for characteristics, patterns, and weather conditions that will help to identify weather conditions. Knowing the weather condition can help us plan the appropriate clothing to wear and whether to have indoor or outdoor recess. We will read the book Play in the Clouds by Mike Miller and students will listen for clues or hints related to clouds.


    The book Play in the Clouds will be used to hook students on the concept of clouds. Probing questions will be asked about the cover of the book and throughout the reading to help students understand there are different cloud types.


    Students will explore ways to make a connection between cloud types and weather. With your guidance, students will record information about the lesson in their science journals.

    Students will think about the purpose of the lesson and about the big idea. Students may need to revisit the book, sticky notes, chart paper, and science journals. They will think to revise notes recorded by adding and crossing out information.

    During the revision, it will be necessary to conference with the class or in small groups to guide them on how to rethink and revise their work so that it is meaningful to the learning process. In this case, you will guide students on how to take meaningful notes that will help them answer questions, expand learning, complete homework, and answer short and extended responses on tests. You will ask students how these skills can help them in other subject areas.


    This part of the lesson will help students evaluate what they have learned. They will apply the information learned to a performance activity. Each student will be able to use this activity to evaluate his/her knowledge of cloud types.


    Explore opportunities to connect with students on various levels. This is an excellent time to conference with students in small groups to tailor their learning in a meaningful direction.


    This lesson requires students to focus on specific vocabulary words that will help them identify cloud types and weather conditions associated with different cloud types. Anchoring understanding with the use of videos and writing assessments provides concrete meaning. Students use the varied instructional strategies to make text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world meaning. Recognizing cloud types and associating them with weather conditions helps students begin to make sense of daily living skills. Such skills help students dress appropriately according to the weather, and therefore help students stay healthy and in a good frame of mind. It also helps them understand and recognize how to take care of pets/animals and plants.

Instructional Procedures

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    Read the book Play in the Clouds. Use the book to hook students on the concept of clouds. Ask probing questions throughout the reading to help students understand there are different cloud types. If the book is unavailable, refer to the following Web site on cloud types:

    Display the cloud pictures (S-4-1-1_Cloud Pictures.doc) and notes to the class. Allow time for students to copy down the notes in their science journals/notebooks. Personalizing notes is suggested to accommodate students.


    Clouds: A collection of many tiny water droplets or ice crystals. Formed by warm air rising and then cooling in the atmosphere. Classified by their altitude.

    Cumulus Clouds: Puffy, white clouds that tend to have flat bottoms. Form when warm air rises. Indicates good or fair weather.

    Cumulonimbus Clouds: Cumulus clouds that produce thunder storms. Nimbus means that precipitation might fall.

    Stratus Clouds: Form in layers over large areas of the sky, often blocking out the sun. Caused by a gentle lifting of a large body of air into the atmosphere. Fog is a stratus cloud forming on or near the ground.

    Cirrus Clouds: Thin, feathery, white clouds found at high altitudes. Form when the wind is strong and indicate approaching bad weather.



    Hand out the cloud worksheet to students (S-4-1-1_Cloud Worksheet.pdf). Allow students 30 minutes to complete the worksheet.

    When finished, discuss student questions from the activity. Wrap up the lesson by having students create their own clouds out of cotton balls. Hand out copies of the Cloud Table to each student (S-4-1-1_Cloud Table.doc). Review the characteristics of each cloud as you and the class make cotton ball clouds and glue them to the Cloud Table. Make sure to assess general understanding of visual cloud characteristics and weather prediction throughout the activity.

    Part 2


    • Each student can edit and publish his/her stories along with a drawing/illustration. The class can turn these stories and illustrations into a weather mood book. Place a front and back cover on the stories and present the final product to a kindergarten or first grade class in the school district.

    • Students going above and beyond the standards can predict the weather’s effect on living organisms. Have students complete the Weather and Living Things worksheet (S-4-1-1_Weather and Living Things and KEY.doc).

Related Instructional Videos

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DRAFT 11/15/2010
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