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Learning Experience/Unit

Heads in the Clouds by St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES


Math, Science & Technology

Grade Levels

Elementary, 3rd Grade


See attached rubric.

Learning Context/ Introduction

This learning experience is part of a unit on weather. As background knowledge, the students will have learned the answers to the following essential questions: What is weather?, Why is a thermometer useful and what information does it give?, and What are the steps in the water cycle?


Three 30-minute lessons with one 40-minute period in the computer lab for assessment. In addition, as appropriate, the students in groups will be using a digital camera to photograph a cloud, write a narration, and place the product in Photostory. The amount of time this takes will vary with the class size and the weather!

Essential Question

How does the knowledge of cloud types effect your daily life?

Instructional/Environment Modifications

Lessons involve the use of different modalities. Students will also have the ability to go outside to observe the sky and identify the clouds and the weather they are producing. Throughout the entire Weather unit, students in groups will be given the opportunity to use a digital camera outside to photograph different clouds. After each of the groups has photographed at least one cloud type, they will be placed in Photostory along with a short narrative about the cloud type. (The groups will have the opportunity to use computers to research their cloud and from these notes to write the narrative.) This will be shared with the class.

  • Clouds2.wmv
  • Procedure

    Throughout the Weather Unit the students, in groups, will be taking digital photographs of clouds and writing a narration about them to be put together in a photostory. Please see Instructional/Environmental modifications for further information.

    Day 1 -

    The teacher will read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judy Barrett. The students will discuss, as a think-pair-share, what they think really comes from clouds and if there is a way to tell what the weather will be.

    (Materials: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, SMART Board to record group responses)

    Day 2 -

    The teacher will read The Cloud Book by Tomie DePaola. After a class discussion, the students will complete a clouds classification worksheet using ELMO on the SMART Board.

    (Materials: The Cloud Book, worksheet, SMART Board)

    Worksheet source: Thematic Unit Weather page 18 by Diane Williams

    Day 3 -

    1. Students will view the Clouds Interactive PowerPoint presentation. They will then complete the clouds flip book.
    2. Directions for flip book: Hot dog fold the sky blue paper. Fold in quarters. Cut the top layer along the folds. With fold on the left, use cotton balls and marker to make clouds on each top flap. Top to bottom: cirrus, cumulonimbus, cumulus, and stratus. Color cumulonimbus and stratus clouds with black marker. Label appropriately.
    3. Under each flap, write the notes on each cloud type (i.e. cirrus - highest clouds, thin, curly, fair weather cumulonimbus - huge, dark, storm clouds, gray cotton balls cumulus - puffy white cotton balls, flat bottoms, low in sky, fair weather stratus - gray blankets, very low, bring rain or snow). See attached sample below (clouds 017.jpg & clouds 018.jpg).

    (Materials: Clouds PowerPoint presentation, blue construction paper, cotton balls, markers, LCD, SMART Board)

    Day 4 -

    Culminating activity (see attached activity and rubric)

    Students will independently type in answers to questions on each PowerPoint slide and be graded using the rubric. A sample answer key is attached.

    (Materials: PowerPoint presentation)

  • Naming Clouds.ppt - Day 3
  • Head in the Clouds.ppt - Day 4 Assessment

  • clouds 017.jpg
    clouds 018.jpg
  • Head in the Clouds Sample Answer Key.ppt - Day 4
  • Reflections and Feedback

    This learning experience was successful. However, the next time we do the cloud photostory, we will use the zoom lens on the camera. While the clouds seemed very distinct in person, they were difficult to distinguish in the photographs.

    Student Work

    See attached student work.

  • Head in the Clouds- Example of Average Work.ppt
  • Head in the Clouds-Example of Below Average Work.p
  • Head in the Clouds-Exemplary Work.ppt
  • Related Resource

    • Rain and Snow from Kids Discover Ed. Stella Sands Publisher: Christopher Grewe KIDS DISCOVER, 149 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010- visit: http://www.kidsdiscover.com/
    • Flash, Crash, Rumble and Roll by Franklyn M. Bramley (copyright 1964 Harper Collins Publishers, 10E. 53rd St. NY, NY 10022)
    • Weather Report Clouds by Ann and Jim Merk (The Rourke Corp. Inc., Vero Beach, FLA 32964 c. 1964)
    • Thematic Unit Weather by Diane Williams from Teacher Created Resources (6421 Industry Way Westminster, CA 92683) visit: http://www.teachercreatedresources.com
    • The Cloud Book by Tomie DePaolo (from Holiday House Publishers, NY, NY c. 1975)
    • Science Anytime Harcourt Brace and Company c. 1995 pages B31-33

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