Observing Clouds

I have never been too interested in topics related to the atmosphere or space. Not sure why, as I recognize how this knowledge is fundamental in science. I guess is just not my thing; but give me other physics topics and I AM IN! As you can imagine, the more I try to avoid these topics, the more my children and students want to know about them. So, here I am, writing a post about atmospheric science!

My first grade students have been fascinated by clouds. Logically, I wanted to unlock those wonderings with them. They wanted to know cloud names, how are clouds formed, why do they look so different, and much more. So I began to plan a chillaxscience lesson with the one rule and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in mind. This is how I did it.

First, because NGSS is all about emphasizing scientific phenomena I needed to come up with a storyline to ground our experiences. I scouted the internet and found lots of examples but I felt they were not relevant to my students’ experiences. Do you ever feel that way? It’s so tiring to spend hours looking, and still come empty handed; I got my own pictures of a phenomena. Why didn’t I do that in the first place? I pulled my phone and took these pictures. They were taken standing in the same location but facing different directions.

I showed these pictures to the children and we kinesthetically replicated viewing these clouds in the sky. Luckily, we viewed different clouds as well. Then, I posed the question: Why do we see different type of clouds standing in the same location? The science chatting exploded! This phenomenon gave us a reason to use non-fiction texts purposefully. We dived into books! Here are our favorite books.

Deeper Thinking = Collecting Data + Analysis: In science, we want children to develop critical thinking skills and that requires much more than facts. I included the traditional Montessori work but needed to ground that with ambitious teaching, the chillaxscience way. I wanted students to find and analyze patterns. We needed a simple cloud observation sheet to use everyday; something a 6 year old could use and then make scientific claims based on those observations. I couldn’t find anything, of course. Everything was either too advanced or not conducive to recognizing patterns. Guess what? I made my own.

Problem solved! I made one the chillaxscience way! After much work trying to snap my own pictures I used the most reliable public source for all type of clouds: NOAA’s website. Visit their website, it has a ton of information. Download the cloud observation sheet here for FREE.

As always, please let Chillax Science know how these free resources work for you. Download them here for FREE!

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Published by Reizelie Barreto, PhD

Reizelie is a former homeschool parent and a trained science and Montessori teacher with a passion for curriculum development. She loves learning and teaching and on her spare time she helps families create home environments that enrich a child's learning. Reizelie has a PhD in science education and has been working in the field of education for the last 19 years. She loves helping teachers, schools, and homeschooling families improve their science curriculum in ways that are authentic to scientists' work.

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