Types of Clouds

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Objective

SWBAT identify characteristics of three of the types of clouds.

Big Idea

By analyzing images of different types of clouds, students will differentiate between the 3 types of clouds.

Engage

5 minutes

Teacher Tip: This lesson is designed to provide students with information about 3 types of clouds: cirrus, cumulus, and stratus.  They will be analyzing images, making observations and differentiating between all 3 in order to create their own list of characteristics for each type. NGSS MS-ESS2-4 is addressed in this lesson as students are still discovering how water is cycled through Earth's environment and atmosphere.  This lesson requires about 10 minutes of prep time, involving cutting out the cloud images for each group and possibly making copies of the student notes sheets. 

To start the lesson, students recall information from the previous lesson (clouds) and answer the following prompt, individually, in their student notes sheet

ENGAGE: Explain how clouds are formed. (Answer: condensation clings to dust particles in the atmosphere and clouds form) 

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Explore

10 minutes

I pass out the EXPLORE cloud images to the small groups (3-4 students) and ask them to complete the chart in the EXPLORE section of their notes sheet: 

EXPLORE: Observe the 3 images of clouds. Complete the chart for each image.

Picture 1

These clouds look like…

Picture 2

These clouds look like…

Picture 3

These clouds look like…

 Students will make visual observations about the clouds: they look like feathers; they are thin and wispy; they look like cotton balls or ice cream.  Let them use their own descriptions for this section, as it allows them to make connections to descriptive language they are familiar with. After 8-9 minutes, I will ask 1-2 groups to share their responses with the class as I write them in the chart on the SMARTBoard, EXPLORE student sample

Explain

5 minutes

For more visual and also auditory support, I show the students a video about the kinds of clouds. They are asked to collect information about each type using their notes sheet for guidance: 

EXPLAIN: After watching the Clouds* video, take notes on the three kinds of clouds below.

Cumulus Clouds:

Stratus Clouds:

Cirrus Clouds:

*Note: This video is on Brainpop.com which requires a school subscription.  You could substitute the video for something else that discusses cirrus, cumulus and stratus clouds. 

Elaborate

15 minutes

After the students have gathered some factual information from the video, they now use it to make claims about which picture demonstrates which type of cloud.  They will complete the following section in the notes sheet in order to be guided throughout the process: 

ELABORATE: Go back to your notes and observations from the EXPLORE and EXPLAIN sections to identify which picture is which type of cloud.

Picture 1

I think these are…

because...

Picture 2

I think these are…

because...

Picture 3

I think these are…

because...

They are being asked to make a claim as to which type of cloud is which and they support it with observational evidence and information from the video. I will ask students to attempt this individually for 5 minutes, then they can discuss with their small groups. Once completed, we share our responses with the class. 

Evaluate

5 minutes

The final task of this lesson is very active and serves as an engaging visual reminder of the 3 types of clouds.  Students will play a game on the SMART board, matching cloud images to their proper identification. I call on a student to come up, play 1-2 rounds and then have that student call on another student to continue the game. 

EVALUATE: Click on the What Are Clouds link and play the cloud game to test your skills!