Identify Cloud Types with this Printable Cloud Viewer
A basic knowledge of clouds is a good start to understanding weather patterns. Use this printable cloud viewer to teach your kids about clouds and what they mean.
Before you begin, discuss clouds with your child. We enjoyed reading a few books on clouds. Clouds by Anne Rockwell is a good basic overview on cloud types. (This is available on Open Library, which has been a life saver to me the last few months.)
Your child might also enjoy forming the different cloud types with balls of cotton on a blue piece of paper.
Clouds are named after their appearance and altitude. The beginning of a cloud name usually tells you how high it is. The second part tells you its shape. For example, cumulus means a cloud is rounded. “Alto” means mid-level (we know that from music.) So altocumulus clouds are rounded clouds found at mid-height.
High clouds usually have “cirro” or “cirrus” in their name. They are usually above 20,000 feet. Because they are so high up, they are usually made of ice crystals. They include cirrostratus, cirrocumulus, and cirrus clouds.
Middle clouds usually have “alto” as part of their name. They include altostratus and altocumulus clouds.
Low level clouds usually are found below 6,500 feet. They are made of mostly water droplets. They include the easily recognizable cumulus clouds that look like heaps of mashed potatoes.
Using the Printable Cloud Viewer
Cloud names can be a bit confusing, but with this printable cloud viewer your child will be able to begin learning about cloud names. Just print it out, assemble it, and send your child outside with it to start matching clouds with their names. To keep things simple for your little ones, I didn’t include all the possible cloud types.
My daughter enjoys pointing out cirrus clouds, especially since she heard that people sometimes call them “mare’s tails.” She also likes to tell me that she knows the lowest cloud of all–fog.
For more fun nature activities, see my Month in Nature Calendars.
This post is part of a 10 Day Learning with Nature Series. If you enjoyed this activity, you might want to take a look at the other posts in the series.