Monday, June 6, 2011

Outdoor Adventures: Cloud Gazing by Erin Uda

This month, it seems a day doesn’t go by without a sky full of clouds and rain. I’m not sure if it’s summer where you live, but it is definitely still the rainy season here in Utah. Since we’re going to continue to have clouds for a while, I’ve chosen to make good use of all these cloudy days and focus this week’s post on cloud-gazing!

Kids have amazing imaginations, seeing all sorts of things that aren’t really there (case in point – monsters in the closet). So put that imagination to good use and focus their little eyes upwards. Many of us did this back in the good old days when we were allowed to wander the neighborhood all day long unsupervised. We’d go on a bike ride and after we got tired, we’d plop ourselves down on a green patch of grass and look at the clouds until we recovered. Let’s renew that sense of wonder and exploration (as well as the connection to nature) in ourselves and our children this week.

Here are some of our favorite things to find in the sky. See if you can find all these, and add your own unique items as well:

Cloud Shape Bingo: If you have older or more competitive children, it might be fun to print a Bingo card filled with shapes to find in the clouds. Someone should be the designated judge to make sure the shapes are actually there.

Another activity that is great for older children would be to take the time to review the different types of clouds and what they mean for future weather patterns.

Cloud handouts are easy to find on the internet. You can use the handout above that was found HERE, or the one you see below that was found on THIS website.

If you’re not able to dedicate a couple of hours to being outside, or if the weather isn’t cooperating with you, try taking pictures of the clouds. You can take them over time, or take a bunch on the same day. Print them out and create a book with these pictures. Use this as an activity or quiet book for your children. They can sit with you and show you the shapes they see in the clouds, or you can laminate the pictures and let them circle each shape with a dry-erase marker. This is a great item to keep in your purse for unexpected doctor’s visits, meetings, or any time your child has to stay seated for any length of time.

If you’re feeling crafty, try making clouds out of blue construction paper, glue, and cotton balls. For older children, let them paint a cloud. Set them up at a table outside to observe the clouds while they work.

If your child opted to paint, talk together about the colors in the clouds. They reflect everything around them, including the sky, so they are usually tinged with blue or the colors of the sunrise/sunset. Sometimes they’re golden from direct sunshine and sometimes they’re dark gray from all the moisture inside them. Let them be creative with the colors they add to the standard white paint.

[This is what Brooklyn and Naomi made earlier this Spring when they were learning about clouds.]

If you’re still looking for something to do, try making your own REAL cloud!

Note: this activity requires an adult, since it involves matches.

When you’re ready to wind things down and bring everyone inside for story time, try focusing on weather-related stories and folklore. If the weather didn’t cooperate and you don’t have time to make your own cloud book, I’ve included a couple of good substitutes in the list below.

Suggested Reading:

  • The Cloud Book, Tomie DePaola (Call #: J 551.576 D4404; ISBN: 0823402592)
  • Little Cloud, Eric Carle (Call #: P Carle; ISBN: 9780399230349)
  • It Looked Like Spilt Milk, Charles G. Shaw (Call #: P Shaw; ISBN: 0060255668)
  • Cloudland, John Burningham (Call #: P Burningham; ISBN: 0517709287)
  • Willy Whyner, Cloud Designer, Michael Lustig (Call #: P Lustig; ISBN: 0027613658)
  • The Book of Clouds, John A. Day (Call #: 551.576 D3323; ISBN: 9781402728136)
  • Clouds, Eric M. Wilcox (Call #: 551.576; ISBN: 9781844837137)

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