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Cloud Watching

Do you ever flop on the grass outside and look up at the clouds? It is fun to do when the sky is blue, and the clouds are puffy and white. If you use a little imagination, you can watch the clouds change into many different things. Clouds are really water vapor that condenses on dust particles in the air.
Native Americans, fur trappers, pioneers, and modern-day scientists study clouds in order to make weather predictions. There are many different types of clouds, and each type of cloud provides information about what is happening in the atmosphere. You can also learn to "read" the clouds, so you can predict the weather.

There are three types of clouds: cirrus, cumulus, and stratus.

(Image courtesy of NASA)

Cirrus clouds are high, thin, wispy clouds. These clouds usually mean a warm front is approaching, and the weather may turn stormy in a day or two.


Cumulus clouds are the big, puffy, white clouds. They are the kind you like to watch on a pleasant summer day. Cumulus clouds usually mean fair weather.


Stratus clouds are lower and layered. They are usually gray, and often fill the sky completely. These "blanket" clouds usually indicate rain or snow.


Now that you are an expert on cloud types, make a cloud chart. (You may want to take a picture of each cloud type along to help you remember.)

Make a cloud chart. Several times each day take a look at the sky. On your chart, record the information in the boxes below.



Cloud Type

Percent coverage

Next day weather










































Think about it!
People use phrases or rhymes to help them remember things. Many are weather related. One example is: "Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning." Can you list three other phrases you know that are related to clouds or the weather.


Download the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 4th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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