In the afternoons, while Yahoo takes a nap, the boys jump on the Internet to play computer games. They usually stick to Curious George on pbskids.org but one day they were feeling rebellious and ventured to unknown territory...Sesame Street. There they found Drawing with Clouds with Elmo. I thought this would be a good time to continue our study of weather.
After a little bit of online surfing on my part I found what we needed to learn about clouds. Because I was an art teacher and don't know much about...anything... the phrase, "Google it!" is used on a daily basis in our house!
First we talked about what makes a cloud. The water drops in the air are spread out when they are close to the ground. As the sun warms the water droplets they rise like a hot air balloon. Very high in the air it is very cold and the water drops come together to "cuddle" to stay warm. I usually try to explain concepts using analogies the boys can understand. It helped to use the analogy of people wanting to cuddle in the winter when it's cold but not in the summer when it is hot. Same concept with water droplets in the sky. Clouds are then formed when the water drops come close together.
Then we talked about the three main types of clouds; cumulus, cirrus and stratus. Cloud types are named for their shape so we drew pictures of each type with a white crayon. We have puffy (cumulus), smoky (cirrus), and like a sheet (stratus). We have also been cloud gazing when we take walks or ride in the car. The boys and I talk about the different clouds in the sky and then we have fun trying to imagine pictures in them.
Finally we made clouds in a jar. Now this is cool! You will need the following; a quart jar, a candle and matches, tongs, a bag of ice, very hot water, a flashlight and a black piece of paper.
Pour about an inch of hot water in the bottom of the quart jar. I heated it slightly on the stove but not quite boiling. Light the candle and lower it into the water with tongs. Allow it to burn for a few seconds then blow the candle out and immediately place the bag of ice completely over the opening of the jar. Place the black paper behind the jar. Finally shine the flashlight into the jar and you'll be able to see the cloud forming and rolling inside. As I looked at the cloud I kept expecting it to dissipate like smoke from a candle would but it didn't. The cloud just kept rolling and rolling until the ice was removed. Then as the cloud floated out of the jar the boys were able to "feel" the cloud and how cool it was, not hot like smoke.
The clouds may show up better if you turn out the lights too. I didn't put a picture up of our cloud in the jar because I couldn't get a really good photo to show what it looked like. The boys loved this though and we've made clouds a lot lately!
Learning about clouds and wind has been a lot of fun for all of us. Hopefully I'll be able to keep this weather theme going. I'm not sure where to go from here but I'll keep you updated on any more fun activities we do!