10 Ideas for Exploring Clouds

7 August 2016 · 2 comments

in 10 Outdoor Ideas Series, Digital & ICT Outdoors, Science Outdoors, Technologies, Urban

“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed. It feels an impulsion. This is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.”
Richard Bach, Illusions

Clouds are an endless source of fascination with a shape and symmetry all of their own, related to the physics of cloud formation. Unusually you cannot always tell the size of a cloud by looking at it – it seems to be almost independent of scale. This is all part of the fractal nature of clouds and many other natural forms.

  1. Watch the clouds float by

Cloud watching is a very relaxing activity to do with children of all ages. The trick is to make sure the children have enough space and time just to be. To quote Terry Guillemots:

“Clouds are the sky’s imagination.”

Chat afterwards about the thoughts and ideas that floated into each child’s mind. They may wish to write their favourite as a thought cloud.


2. Seek out images in the clouds

Looking for cloud pictures is fun. It is often possible to see a face or an animal or other object created from clouds…

Looking at the “negative” space between the clouds is also a challenge. For there can be seen hidden features and objects.


3. Estimate the amount of cloud cover in the sky

As a child, I used to talk about the amount of blue in the sky needed to make a suit for a sailor with my sisters. Sometimes there was only enough for the buttons, let alone the trousers and top. A good way of working out the amount of cloud in the sky is to take a big mirror and using a marker pen, split the area into 8 equal parts. Put it on the ground on a day and look at the number of squares or eighths covered.



4. Create Photo Booth snowflakes

As you’ve probably worked out, I’ve been having a bit of fun again with the Photo Booth on my iPad. I love the way the kaleidoscope option creates snowflakes out of the clouds. Not the same as real snow but an interesting parallel…

The swirl feature enables the viewer to create a hurricane effect within the clouds.


5. Make cloud frames

If you are keen to help children learn about different types of cloud, then this Pedagoo blog post by Gemma Sanderson tells you about an effective use of a cloud frame for this purpose.


6. Ask lots of questions

After looking at clouds in different ways, the children will come up with plenty of questions. It seems that clouds and the blue sky are ripe for contemplation. After all, is it an example of infinity? Do castles in the sky follow the same rules of architecture as other buildings?


7. Let music cloud your judgement

One of my favourite activities is to get children to listen to “Little Fluffy Clouds” by The Orb. It’s a very mellow dance track. I’ve used this after looking at Georgia O’Keefe’s work and using this as inspiration for art explorations. Whilst she is better known for flowers rather than clouds, there’s something quite expansive about her cloud work.


8. Create clouds

There is a surreal Dutch artist, Berndnaut Smilde, who creates clouds indoors. Seeing Berndnaut at work may well inspire children to have a go at creating their own clouds. Brainstorm ideas with children about how this could be done. Experiment and report back on the results in different ways.


9. Vaporise clouds

This concept was mooted by Richard Bach in his book Illusions. Another theory for children to explore is that of vaporising clouds. This is all about making clouds evaporate or disappear by removing them from your thinking. Quite a challenge.


10. Explore fog

Foggy days are a chance to experience being in a cloud. How far away can the children see?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny VandenBosch March 3, 2016 at 20:09

Thank you for your ideas. Clouds are very intriguing for children. They love to learn and being outside really enhances their lesson. It will make the lesson on clouds more interesting for them! Thank you for the ideas.


Juliet Robertson March 3, 2016 at 20:12

Thanks Jenny for taking the time to comment.


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