Elementary English Language Arts
Material Type:
Assessment, Homework/Assignment
Upper Elementary
  • Basic Cloud Types
  • Clouds
  • Lesson Plan
  • Remix
  • adobe-ccexpress
    Creative Commons Attribution
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    Education Standards

    Basic Cloud Types

    Basic Cloud Types


    This lesson is about the basic cloud types. Students will spend time gathering information, will participate in an experiment, will review the information and create an Adobe Spark video that contains particular information about each cloud type.


    Students will identify and describe basic cloud types. 

    • Time frame: 1 hour
    • Group size: 20-30
    • Authors: Sonnet Udy,, Weather Wiz Kids

    Background for Teachers

    Teachers need a basic understanding of:

    • The water cycle
    • How clouds form
    • Predicting the weather
    • Vocabulary words: cumulus, cirrus, stratus, evaporation, condensation, precipitation, accumulation
    • Resources to find more information on this topic: 

                -Utah's Online Library

                -Weather Wiz Kids



    Student Prior Knowledge

    Prior to this lesson, students will need to have an understanding of:

    -The water cycle

    -How clouds form

    -Ways to predict the weather

    Student Learning Intentions & Success Criteria

    Learning Intentions:

    • Students will be able to:
    • Identify and understand the basic cloud types.

    Success Criteria:

    • Students will:
    • Identify and describe the basic cloud types and how they help predict the weather.

    Instructional Procedures

    Introduction: (5 minutes)

    • Hold up a cotton ball and describe it as fluffy and soft. Ask students to respond with a thumbs up or down to indicate their response to the question: Are clouds fluffy and soft, too?
    • Explain that though they may look fluffy and soft, clouds are actually made of teeny tiny drops of water that are so small they can float in the air. As long as the cloud and the air that it's made of are warmer than the air around it, it floats.
    • Stretch another cotton ball into an elongated shape and add that clouds have different shapes and sometimes colors. The shapes and colors can help us predict the weather.
    • Pick up another cotton ball and hold it up high, then towards your middle, then to your shoes as you explain the high cloud group as cirrus the middle cloud group as alto and the low clouds group as stratus.
    • Tell them you are going to show them how a cloud can be made later on in the lesson.

    Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling:

    (15 minutes)

    • Watch the video, "Basic Cloud Types."
    • Show the "What do Clouds Tell You About the Weather?" worksheet. Read the important parts of the paper as a class. Have them highlight the main descriptions of each cloud type in the passage.

    Guided Practice:

    (20 minutes)

    • Pass out a paper and have them split it into four sections. Draw and describe each type of cloud on the graphic organizer.
    • Cirrus clouds: These are made of ice and are blown by the wind into long lines that are sometimes described as looking like horse’s tails. They happen in fair weather in a mostly clear sky and point in the direction of the wind.
    • Stratus: These clouds a dark gray and usually happen with a persistent rain or snow period. They look like a blanket in the sky. When they are really low to the ground, they are fog.
    • Cumulus: These are the fluffy, cotton ball type clouds that are sometimes called “fair-weather clouds.” But they can grow tall and become giant cumulonimbus clouds, which indicate thunderstorms ahead.
    • Cumulonimbus: The name nimbus means rain. It is a bigger version of the cumulus cloud, which it may have started out as. These clouds can get up to 6 miles high and usually happen in severe thunderstorm weather.
    • Rotate around the room to check for understanding.

    Independent Working Time:

     (10-15 minutes)

    Can do one of two closing activities:


    • Distribute blue construction paper, cotton balls, and chalk and allow students to use the items to create and label a cloud of their own.
    • Ask students to think about what kind of weather is likely with the cloud they create and to be ready to tell what that weather is.


    • Make a cloud in a bottle. Here is how:

    Materials: 2-liter clear plastic pop bottle, matches, warm water

    • Fill the clear plastic 2-liter bottle 1/3 full of warm water and put the cap on. As the water evaporates, it adds water vapor to the air that is inside the bottle...the first step to making a cloud. 
    • Squeeze and let go of the bottle and watch what happens. Nothing happens. Why? The squeeze is like the warming in the atmostphere. If the inside of the bottle gets covered with condensations, just shake the bottle and it will get rid of them.
    • Take the cap off. Light a match and hold it near the opening of the bottle. Drop the match in the bottle and put the cap back on. It will trap the smoke inside.
    • Dust, smoke or other particles in the air is the second ingredient to making a cloud.
    • Slowly squeeze the bottle hard and let go. What happens? A cloud appears when you let go and disappears when you squeeze. The third ingredienct to making a cloud is air pressure.

    Strategies for Diverse Learners

    There is a Nearpod that can be used for ELL learners. The Nearpod goes over the vocabulary in greater detail. Students will be introduced to what clouds are and the Nearpod will help reinforce key terms and concepts. 

    You can also have advanced students write a five paragraph informational essay about how the basic cloud types can help you predict the weather.

    Assessment Plan

    You can use the graphic organizer they made to assess understanding. In addition, they are going to create a project to demonstrate understanding. This will continue beyond one session for this lesson. 

    Students will create an Adobe Spark video to identify and describe the different cloud types. They will need to take pictures of different cloud types. They can also find ones on the internet to use, if needed. However, taking their own pictures is recommended.

    A rubric is attached for the requirements and expectations for this Adobe Spark project.

    An example of an Adobe Spark Video is also attached.

    Students will need to cite their sources on the final page of the Adobe Spark video.