Theme: Community Helpers

Weather Watchers


Objective: Children will learn about the meteorologist, who is sometimes called a weather person, as a community helper who studies weather and how meteorologists examine clouds and cloud formations to help to predict the weather.

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What You Will Need

  • Cotton balls - about 20 per child
  • Glue
  • Crayons
  • Large drawing paper - 1 sheet per child
  • Chart paper and marker

What To Do

  1. Share with the children, “Today we are going to talk about meteorologists and how they help us know about the weather.  One way to learn about the weather is by learning about clouds.”
  2. Invite the children to look out the window or go for a short walk outside.
  3. “What can you see if you look up in the sky?”
  4. “Do you always see the same things when you look up?”
  5. Encourage the children to describe what they see. If they use some of the following words, emphasize them, otherwise introduce them into the conversation:  fluffy, thick, thin, flat, high, low.  Also encourage the use of words that describe size, shape, distance, and color.
  6. Use chart paper to record their observations.  Invite students to draw pictures on the chart to show the types of clouds they saw. 
  7. Explain that clouds are often categorized by meteorologists into three basic categories (see the "Did You Know?" section of this lesson for more information on these categories).  Each type of cloud has a different job.  Briefly name and describe the cloud types.  Ask the children, “Can we identify the clouds that we saw in the sky?” 
  8. Distribute the paper, glue, and cotton balls and let the children experiment making clouds on their paper.
  9. Gather together as a group and let the children share their creations.  Work together to identify the types of clouds each child created.  Can the children predict what kind of weather each cloud might produce? 

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Tell me about different kinds of weather. Have you seen rain, sunshine, snow, wind?
  • Can a person play in any kind of weather? Why?
  • What kind of weather is good for playing? What kind of weather may not be the best for playing outside?
  • How does weather affect what we wear?
  • How does learning about the weather each day help us to plan what we are going to wear and what we are going to do?

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Make a cloud chart. Use cotton balls and black markers to create models of the different types of clouds. Glue the clouds onto a grid and label the clouds. Students can work individually or in groups to create the charts. Place the charts in the discovery area, preferably near a window, and encourage the children to observe the sky throughout the day. Ask them to use the chart to determine what types of clouds they see and to use the information on the chart to predict the weather.
  • Place items such as binoculars, maps, microphones, pictures of various types of weather, and dress-up clothing in the dramatic play area. Encourage the children to use the materials to act as meteorologists and produce radio or television weathercasts.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Do the children recognize that meteorologists use clouds to help predict the weather?
  • Does each child understand that different types of clouds indicate different kinds of weather?

Did You Know?

Clouds are often visible in the sky.  They provide us with rain, protection from the heat of the Sun, and help to keep the planet warm. Meteorologists study the weather and help us know what kind of weather to expect each day.  Meteorologists often use satellites to look at the Earth from space to study the weather. 

Clouds are formed from water vapor.  All air contains water.  Closer to the ground, the water is typically in the form of an invisible gas called water vapor.   When the air is warmed, it rises and cools. Cool air can't hold as much water vapor as warm air, so some of the vapor condenses (forms back into droplets).  The water droplets cling to tiny pieces of dust that are floating in the air. When billions of these droplets come together they form a cloud.  The individual droplets are so small and light that they can float in the air. 

Clouds can weigh many tons.  As long as the cloud is warmer than the air around it, it will still float. Clouds come in many, many shapes and sizes; but meteorologists and scientist use some basic classifications to predict the weather.

  • Cirrus clouds are found higher in the sky and are often feathery or wispy in shape.  They typically indicate pleasant weather.
  • Cumulus clouds are fluffy and cottony looking and they are found lower in the sky than cirrus clouds.  They grow upwards and are flat on the bottom.  Cumulus clouds are the clouds that bring thunder, lightning, and rain.
  • Stratus clouds are found low and blanket the sky.  Normally stratus clouds do not drop rain, but they can cause drizzle.

Satellites are special instruments or tools that are sent into space to orbit, fly around, the Earth and gather information to send back to Earth to scientists and meteorologists.  Satellites have special computers and cameras on them.  Satellites provide a great deal of information constantly and quickly. This information, especially when it is used for predicting storms, has been very helpful in saving lives and property.

Did You Know?

Clouds are often visible in the sky.  They provide us with rain, protection from the heat of the Sun, and help to keep the planet warm. Meteorologists study the weather and help us know what kind of weather to expect each day.  Meteorologists often use satellites to look at the Earth from space to study the weather.

Learn More

Vocabulary

  • meteorologist — a meteorologist is a scientist who studies the Earth and the weather.
  • cloud — a cloud is a white or gray collection, or mass, of tiny drops of ice or water that floats in the sky.
  • vapor — vapor is made when very small pieces of water, or ice are floating in a gas.  Clouds and mist are made of vapor.
  • fluffy — soft, light, airy like feathers.
  • flat — a surface or top that is smooth and even and without any bumps.
  • satellite — satellites are special instruments or tools made by people. Satellites are sent into space to fly around the Earth and gather information to send back to scientists and meteorologists.

Vocabulary

  • meteorologist
  • cloud
  • vapor
  • fluffy
  • flat
  • satellite

Child-Friendly Definitions

Lesson Tips

  • Depending on the age of the children in your class, understanding the information about clouds and the different types of weather they produce may be overwhelming.  Prior to the lesson, you can create a chart to help the children.  Draw colorful pictures of each type of cloud with the weather that they produce.  Label each cloud type.  Use the chart as you introduce the concepts during the lesson and encourage the children to use the chart as a resource.
  • Instead of cotton balls, you can use medical cotton that comes in rolls (sold at a pharmacy).  The children can create a larger variety of cloud formations using this type of cotton.

Books

  • Clouds by Anne Rockwell
  • The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola
  • Little Cloud by Eric Carle
  • Sadie, the Airmail Pilot by Kellie Strom
  • Walter Was Worried by Laura Vaccaro

Common Core State
Standards Initiative

These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.[2]

Visit the CCSS website

Important Legal Disclosures & Information

  1. While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed. 

  2. There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.