Thursday, January 29, 2015

All About Clouds!

Here in Virginia, we teach a fairly comprehensive unit on weather in 2nd grade.  Our Standards of Learning (SOLs) include the water cycle, weather instruments, and dangerous storms, but clouds are not covered.  Being the rebel that I am, I teach clouds anyway!  My students love learning about different cloud types, what weather they bring, and what those Latin-derived names actually mean.  Well, maybe not that last part, but I throw it in for fun.

We start our cloud learning out with an old-fashioned K-W-L, which you can get here.  I find that most students have some background knowledge, even if it's as simple as the idea that clouds can form different shapes.  Then, to help students make sense out of names like cirrus and cumulus and cumulonimbus, we read a great book called The Man Who Named the Clouds. (You can find a link to it at the end of this post.) Some of it is too advanced for my kids, so I just pick out the relevant parts.

After that, we are ready for student research!  Students are divided into small groups, assigned a cloud type, and use QR codes to link to various websites to read and answer questions.  Each group is responsible for filling in the class chart with the information they learned and presenting it to the class.  I was pleasantly surprised by the addition of non-required illustrations!
Next, to get in some hands-on learning, students make sky cloud charts using cotton balls.  Because you can't teach clouds and not incorporate cotton balls, am I right?! I only allowed the students ten cotton balls each and they agonized over how to divvy them up.  Pretty good results overall.

Then, over the next couple of days, we do cloud sorting activities, cloud jigsaw puzzles, and interactive notes entries.  If you're interested in seeing more, head on over to my TpT store and check out my All About Clouds unit.

Last but not least, here are a few links to some great cloud books!