Clouds + Weather Unit

Sometimes for the best lessons, you just have to look up! ⛈ In this lesson we will learn about the water cycle, clouds, thunderstorms and some extreme(ly cool!) weather. Even better, this unit is packed with incredibly engaging science experiments your child is going to love. (Spoiler alert: You’re probably going to love it, too!) Don’t forget to download this printable worksheet to track books read, skills learned, and how you’re progressing.

Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

  • Weather Words and What They Mean by Gail Gibbons (Note: This book is an excellent resource but not a story book. Unless your kid is a mini-meteorologist, they may not want this to be their next bedtime book. Use it as a reference to introduce the topics being discussed in each lesson.)
  • Clouds by Ann Rockwell
  • A Party for Clouds: Thunderstorms by Belinda Jensen

Optional additional reading for preschoolers:

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Understanding weather can be a big idea for little kids. So to start the week, we’ll start with just one part: the water cycle. Your child will use this foundation to begin their meteorology studies, and we’ll use hands-on experiments and storytelling to help their understanding grow.

Activity 1: Start with a nature walk or a peak out the window.  Looking up at the clouds, peering out at a body of water or even a puddle on the ground, explain how water goes round and round in the visible and invisible cycle we call the water cycle. Even though this is a complicated subject, even the youngest of children can grasp this concept if you simplify it for them. (Psst! Need to brush up on your own understanding? This post breaks down the water cycle in a simple way.)

***Click here for more tips on starting a nature journal.

Activity 2: Three simple water cycle experiments – Teach your child to see collection, precipitation, condensation, and evaporation in action with three easy-to-set-up experiments. The first two are very similar, so pick the one you like best or do them both. (Note: They will take several hours in the sun to demonstrate evaporation and condensation, so set this up early in the morning and come back to it in the afternoon or evening.) The last one is a great visual demonstration of precipitation that will lead right into tomorrow’s lesson.

Activity 3: Create your own water cycle poster to solidify this lesson. We recommend laminating it to reuse it all week and beyond. If you have a hands-on learner, laminate the words and add velcro dots so that they can label the poster over and over again.

Lesson 2:

Today, we will talk all about clouds. Start by reading the book Clouds. If you aren’t able to get it in time, you can use this website for your lesson.

Activity 1: What makes a cloud? In simple terms, clouds are made up of three things: water droplets, dust, and particles. Add air pressure and you have a cloud! This cool experiment will make it come alive for your kid.

Activity 2: Clouds craft
(-) Need a modification? This Clouds craft modifies the one above. If you have a preschooler, they also might enjoy reading Little Cloud along with this activity.

Lesson 3:

Severe weather can be scary for kids (and us, too!). Start today by reading A Party for Clouds: Thunderstorms to learn more about thunder and lightning. 

Activity 1: Ready to make a spark? Do the second experiment in this post using a balloon and spoon.
Activity 2: Thunderstorm Art Craft
Activity 3: Writing numbers with clouds. This blogger has created a set of numbers that can be laminated and used for number writing practice. (In order to download this free printable, you must subscribe to her newsletter. She will send you a code within moments for you to log in and download your free printable. It will take a couple of minutes, but it’s worth it! Check your spam folder if you don’t see it right away.)

Lesson 4:

Want to hear a joke? What did one hurricane say to another hurricane? “I have my eye on you!” (Sorry, we tried!) Today, we’ll continue learning about extreme weather. Start by reviewing snow storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes in Weather Words and What They Mean. Then get ready to learn!

Activity 1: Snow Storm in a Jar
Activity 2: Simple Hurricane Demonstration
Activity 3: Tornado in a bottle

Lesson 5:

It’s art day! Before introducing the today’s piece of art, review with your child what fog is using the Weather Words book. (There’s a picture of a farm with fog settling down on the earth that we love!)

Activity 1: Today, we will look at beautiful paintings by David Friedrich. He was a German artist that was inspired by his surroundings. He loved painting landscapes like the one in our picture today. In this painting, there is a man looking out over a mountain. 

  • Begin by asking your child what he sees. What weather does he see out in the distance? 
  • Ask them what they would name this piece. Then tell them what it is called. (Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog) 
  • Ask them who they think the wanderer could be. Some people think it’s the artist himself. 
  • Talk about how this picture makes them feel. Is it happy? Scary? Sad? Romantic? Funny enough, the artist loved nature so much that some people think of it just that way. He even inspired a group of artists and writers known as Romantics!
  • Talk about fog and what experience your family has had with it.

Note: Many of the details we have shared about the painting come from Usborne’s The Children’s Book of Art by Rosie Dickins. Get your own copy here! (You will find the image and details about Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich in this Usborne Book on pages 20, 21)

Activity 2: Make Your Own Fog
Activity 3: Music activity. Let’s watch and listen to Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. Talk about the happy song and how it contrasts the gloomy weather. Other talking points could include: the umbrella (and why he isn’t using it), why is he happy, the difference between wet and dry (talk about opposites), and tap dancing.
(+) Get up and move with this silly, easy-to-learn dance to a kid’s version of Singing in the Rain.

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