Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What about those clouds?

This is a Tuesday Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers
Check out their website for many more reflections on teaching.


I wrote recently about our neighborhood walks, noting how we have been observing the clouds in the sky. 

Truly, a "cloud study" is emerging in our class.

Behind our school is a large field, providing a large expanse from which to see the sky. This leads to some breathtaking views. We see storms forming, airplanes and helicopters crossing, winds blowing, rain pelting down, and bright sun shining.  Honestly, I've been surprised by how varied the sky can look. 

The clouds are captivating. I encourage the children to observe them more closely. 
The view is lovely from our classroom windows.  

"Look, Ms. Ingram, the clouds are moving!," one student called to me during centers the other day.

At least once a week, we head out the back door of our school to the field, to sit and draw the clouds in the sky. The children are honing their fine motor skills while becoming scientist - observers.

One day, we went out to draw the clouds but there was nothing but gorgeous blue sky, as far as the eye could see. I asked, Where are the clouds? and thoroughly enjoyed the children's responses:

"The clouds are in the sun." (H)

"Because my dad said 'if there is no clouds, you can play.' 
And if you see the clouds, you can draw the clouds." (D)

"Unless the sun take the clouds away." (B)

In the art corner, we have created clouds of our own, in several different ways. 

We created clouds with white, gray, and even black paint, using cotton balls and q-tips as tools to apply the paint. The children created these as a 'symmetry' lesson, putting the paint on one side of the paper only and then folding the paper over, resulting in a mirroring image on the other side of the paper.

We created a beautiful blue sky as a group project. The children delighted in working on their hands and knees, right on the floor of the classroom. 

Of course, once the sky was complete, we needed to add clouds. These we created with 'puffy paint,' which I always enjoy mixing with the children. Puffy white paint is easy - shaving cream mixed with glue (more or less equal parts of each) ... a delightfully sensory experience for painting clouds by hand:

Our fabulous art teacher Briana shared a blog with me by an artist and designer named Cristina Moreno, showcasing the most extraordinary cloud and sky work; I simply had to make a large cloud with the children!!

I wasn't totally certain how to create the cloud, but I thought - let's give it a try! Briana helped fashion a base/form for the cloud and even provided me four bags of cotton batting for the project. The children went to work on this large scale model of a cloud!

The children worked and worked on this, all morning long, pulling small pieces of cotton from the bag, stretching it to make it light and fluffy, and applying lots of glue. (I was astonished at how many bottles of glue we went through to create this exciting structure!)

The children were so engaged, with such great language streaming from their lips...the adjectives alone:


The children had so many great questions -

What are clouds made of?
How big are clouds?
Can we make a real cloud?
How long does it take to make a cloud?
What does it feel like to fall into a cloud?

It was such a thrill to stand on chairs as one worked!!

It took several days for the cloud to dry out.
Then, it was time to find an answer to another pressing question from the children:

How will it hang?

In our science corner, of course! Right in front of our window.

"If you want to have a cloud, you have to be a builder." (A)

We are getting our cloud work ready to share with the families for this Thursday's Learning Showcase. However, I'm not sure our cloud study is over - each day brings more curiosity and exploration.

Can't you hear Joni Mitchell singing?

I've looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down and still somehow

It's cloud illusions I recall

I really don't know clouds at all


  1. So much learning! I love all the different modalities you have used. These kids will forever remember their year of the cloud. Fabulous pictures!

  2. Wonderful cloud in the window! The answers are probably yes, but:
    Have you read Eric Carle's book "Little Cloud" to them?
    Or Tomie de Paola's "The Cloud Book"?
    just in case, and you aren't ready to stop the fun!

  3. Yes, the children had such great questions as they constructed the model of the cloud! I wonder what children with experience being "in" a cloud (because they live in the mountains or in a foggy area) would use to make a cloud. Thank you for taking us into your class!