Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ideas for observing clouds

Yesterday I shared some questions to ask that might inspire a cloud investigation. Today I wanted to share a couple of ways that you can have the children document their observations.


I should start with this warning: you can't really put these activities on your lesson plan because you have to wait for a day when you actually have clouds to observe. I can't tell you how many times I've planned this activity and there were no clouds in the sky, or the opposite happened and the sky was covered by one great big cloud, which makes it difficult to observe.  Just take my word for it and let this be one of those spontaneous activities. That doesn't mean that there aren't a few things that you can keep in mind in order to be prepared!

I always like to start by asking the children to lay down on their backs and look up at the sky.  This is generally met with looks that let me know just how crazy they think I am - what adult in their right mind actually wants children to lay down on the ground?! Once you reassure them that it's really ok most children are pretty willing, but some really don't have experience with laying on their backs on the ground, so be prepared to join them.

After they've looked at the clouds for a while you can have them document what they're seeing in a couple of different ways.

  • If you're a fan of drawing, have the children draw the clouds that they see. I've done this with blue paper and white crayons, but any drawing materials would be just as effective. It's helpful to have clipboards available for the children to draw on.
  • If you have access to a digital camera let the children take photos of what they've been looking at.  Once you get inside you can print the photos and the children can share them with each other and see if they remember which ones they took.  It's always interesting to look at children's photos because they focus on what is most important to them when taking the photos, and this may or may not be the same thing that you would focus on. 
Both of these options give the children the opportunity to share what they are seeing even if they don't have the words to describe their observations.  They can both also be posted in the classroom so that the children can share them with each other and with their parents. 

These two options are perfect for initial observations, where you are just introducing the children to the idea of documenting what they see. Tomorrow I'll share some more cloud art ideas that would be perfect for creating more realistic representations of the clouds that you've been watching!

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