Categorizing Clouds for Kids: Cloud Pictures and Project

Scattered Clouds Red Hawaiian Sunset
Scattered Clouds Red Hawaiian Sunset | Source

The Wonderful Sky of Clouds

Children's Education on Clouds With Pictures

It's a dog! That ones a unicorn! And look at this one it's a train! The miracle of clouds has stretched across our skies and memories sense before they had scientific names. Cumulus, Stratus, Cirrus, and those dark damp Nimbus clouds, each have their own reason for showing up in the sky above. Today you will find this "Children's Guide to Cloud Terms and Cloud Pictures" to answer many of the questions kids (and even some adults) have about categorizing all those puffy, swishy, blankety, and watery floating wonders, we call "clouds."

WHAT YOU THINK REALLY DOES MATTER

What strange shapes have you found more of when looking at clouds?

  • Monsters
  • Animals
  • People
  • Plants
  • I've never really looked at clouds this way.
See results without voting

A Cloud Needs a Good Name

A man named Luke Howard, who was a London pharmacist as well as a very good amateur meteorologist in the early 1800s, came up with all of the funny scientific names we have today for the clouds. Before Howard gave each cloud a category, people simply described them as they appeared to an individual person: puffy, white, dark, gray, woolly, and even castles and towers. A short time before Howard decided to come up with his names for clouds a few other weather scientists began developing cloud terminology of their own. In the long run Howard's cloud names, based on Latin descriptive terms that matched how the clouds appeared in the sky, prevailed.
Howard had three main types of clouds that we use to this day, scientifically as well as casually: cumulus, stratus, and cirrus. And those clouds that carry precipitation were named "nimbus," which is the Latin word for rain.

Cumulus clouds are those that have a fluffy appearance.
Cumulus clouds are those that have a fluffy appearance. | Source

CUMULUS CLOUDS ("heap" or "pile")

The Latin word for "heap" or "pile" is cumulus. When you think about how cumulus clouds look in the sky— puffy and cotton ball-like appearance — it makes perfect sense why Howard chose this name. This type of cloud formation takes place when warm weather and moist air gets pushed upward. The size of the cumulus cloud formation depends on the force of that upward movement and the amount of water vapor in the air at the time. Cumulus clouds that are full of water (rain) are called cumulonimbus clouds.

Stratus clouds have a flat layered loook.
Stratus clouds have a flat layered loook. | Source

STRATUS CLOUDS ("layer")

The name for those clouds that appear a little lazy, flat, stretched-out, and layered are called stratus clouds. As I am sure you guessed already that "stratus" is the Latin word for "layer." These clouds can appear to be a great-big blanket across the sky. They are beautiful to look at and help to diffuse rays of the hot summer sun on the earth.

Cirrus clouds are whispy and feather-like.
Cirrus clouds are whispy and feather-like. | Source

CIRRUS CLOUDS ("curl of hair")

The cirrus clouds are those clouds that make some of the best figures in the sky. They are named for their feathery, wispy, curly look. You guessed it, "cirrus" in Latin means "curl of hair," and looking at cirrus clouds you can see why Howard decided to describe them as such. These are found only at high altitudes and are really thin. So thin in fact, that the rays of sunlight show all of the way through them. This is where they get that wispy look from; the thick parts of the cloud pass less light, and the thinnest parts pass more light, making them appear to have curls and feathers.

Nimbus clouds are full of rain.
Nimbus clouds are full of rain. | Source

NIMBUS CLOUDS ("rain")

known as the rain clouds because they hold tons of precipitation, nimbus clouds can take any shape or structure, or none at all. If you have ever witnessed the sky on a dark rainy day where it looks like one giant grey cloud overhead, you will have an idea what this means. Remember the cumulus cloud that is full of rain gets called a cumulonimbus ? "Nimbus" is the Latin word for "rain," so clouds that rain will have the "nimbus" term attached.

GET FREE CLOUDS CLIP ART

Strange and Beautiful Cloud Formations All Over the World (video)

Table for Cloud to Weather Association

(click column header to sort results)
CLOUD TYPE   
ASSOCIATED WEATHER   
Cirrus
None 
Altostratus 
Light rain that may or may not reach the ground. 
Nimbostratus 
Heavy continuous rain or snow. 
Cumulus
Usually none, unless large formations that have been asscoiated with showers of rain and snow begin to react.
Cumulusnimbus
Thunderstorms, lightening, showers of rain, snow or hail.
Stratocumulus
May drizzle-may be asscoiated with low visability.
Stratus
May drizzle-may be asscoiated with low visability.

FUN WEATHER OBSERVATION PROJECT FOR KIDS (and curious grown-ups!)

The page below is design to document how you see the weather on a daily basis. It's fun to check the sky to see what clouds are hanging around on any given day. When you and your friends each look at the skies, do you see the same things? Are the clouds at your house any different from the clouds at the mall? The point of the project is to help you understand how the cloud formations relate to the actual weather you are encountering. Here's what you do:

Instructions

How To Use The Project Page

  1. Print out the page below.
  2. Write in the date you are observing the clouds.
  3. Write in the time of day you are checking the sky.
  4. Write in the type of clouds you are seeing at that moment.
  5. Write in how the weather is reacting with the cloud category you see.
  6. Compare your results to the results of those your friends have reported.
  7. Check the official weather reports in your area to see how close your answers are to the actual weather reports.

Fun Cloud and Weather Observation Project for Kids

Watch the weather and clouds and write down your observation on this Project page. See how you and your friends see the clouds differently.
Watch the weather and clouds and write down your observation on this Project page. See how you and your friends see the clouds differently. | Source

An Official Cloud Quiz

More by this Author

  • The Food Chain For Kids
    5

    Food Chain for children can be used in a classroom setting or for home studies. A lesson on the food chain that defines which creatures fit where, and how the human species stays on top without any sharp teeth or claws....

  • How To Kill Black Widow Spiders
    26

    You will find a ton of facts about the black widow spider. Is the male spider poisonous? How come a bite can kill you? How to handle first aid after a bite, and of course how to kill this eight-legged freak! Tips for...

  • 10 Common People Foods that Can Kill Your Dog
    382

    The most common people foods are the most deadly to your dog. This list surprises even the most knowledgeable of dog people.


Comments for "Categorizing Clouds - Children's Guide to Cloud Terms with Pictures" 17 comments

K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 4 years ago from Northern, California Author

Stephanie Henkel~ Thank you for sharing your thoughts on categorizing clouds for kids! I know I had a blast learning while I researched this hub. I found the "nimbus" thing pretty interesting! I sure appreciate that you made it by.

HubHugs~

K9


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

You do make learning about the different kinds of clouds interesting and fun - and it all makes sense, too! :) I must re-read this hub as I never learned much about clouds before.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California Author

Chin chin~ What a great idea, this would make a good project for those homeschooling parents. I have much respect for the people who take-on the task of teaching children; no higher honor exists in my mind. Sharing our generations' know-how and what we have learned through the years and from our past generations is to be given to the Young to pass-on to their children. I owe a great deal to a teacher from my past; a debt I'm afraid I will never get to repay.

Thank you for your wonderful comments and for making it by today to read about clouds.

Cheers~

K9


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California Author

Earth Angel~ You are simply the best! You bring with you today the joy of gifted smiles; I will treasure these always. Thank you so much for sharing with your FaceBook account. I just think that's so nice. I hope even one little kid learns something cool from this fun "Naming clouds" article.

Much HubLove my friend~

K9


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago

Blessings of love and grace this mornin K9!

Just a note to let you know I voted for your Hub here in the Share Alike Contest AND posted it to my FaceBook!

You are the BEST!

Earth Angel Blessings Always, Sapphire!!


Chin chin profile image

Chin chin 5 years ago from Philippines

This is a really great resource for kids wanting to learn about this topic. Even teachers and homeschooling parents will definitely like this cloud lesson for kids.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California Author

WannaB Writer~ Being a photographer as well, I absolutely understand your curiosity for this topic. It is why I researched "clouds" in the first place. Knowing how to categorize clouds has improved my filing for natural images. So glad you have found the hub helpful! I appreciate your comments very much.

Cheers~

K9


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

This is especially useful for me because I love photographing clouds and I'm never sure what to call them. I've had books, but they weren't as easy to understand as your hub, so I guess I'm one of those adults you referred to that needs help.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California Author

Earth Angel~ You are so kind. I enjoyed creating this hub very much. I think it's sweet that you see angels and wings among the spray of clouds!

Big HubHugs~

K9

Audry~ Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the shout-out for the contest. It will be difficult to follow in your award winning hubshoes! Appreciate your comments very much--

Cheers~

K9


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Great hub, K9 - fantastic idea for a hub too - and congrats on making it into the contest!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago

Blessings to you K9keystokes!

How delightful a Hub! You are just the BEST!

I always see "angels" and "wings" in the clouds!

GREAT Fun Hub! Will pass it along to my younger friends!

Blessings always, Earth Angel!


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California Author

Susan K. Earl~ Thank you for the lovely comments. I am so pleased that this little cloud hub managed to bring you a few sisterly memories! Also flattered you will be sharing it with your science teachers. I value your comments with honest respect.

Cheers~

K9


Susan K. Earl profile image

Susan K. Earl 5 years ago from North Central Texas

Excellent post, K9! I will definitely pass it on to our science teachers. I for one love watching the clouds and finding all the wonderful shapes in them. It's been something my sisters and I have done all our lives and passed on to our kids... and grandkids! This is a really fun and easy lesson for all to understand more about clouds and how they affect our everyday life. Right now we could really use a lot of those cumulusnimbus clouds to float on down to Texas! Thanks for posting this.

Blessings,

Susan


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California Author

prairieprincess~ Super cool that you learned a way to remember cloud terms here. Glad that you enjoyed the hub! I appreciate your comments very much.

Cheers~

K9


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada

Keystrokes, I truly enjoyed this hub. Ever since my sister and I were children, she always knew the clouds, and I could never remember. Now, you have taught me in a way that I will always remember. Thank you! Very informative little hub. Loved!


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California Author

J.S.Matthew~ Thank you for the great remarks about this little cloud hub for kids! I am pleased that you found it easy to read and hope your daughter enjoys it as much as you did. It was very fun to create; who doesn't like to look at clouds!?

Cheers~

K9


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Very thorough and easy to read! Great job here. Voting Up and Sharing! I will also share with my daughter who always loves to look at the clouds and sees shapes and animals.

JSMatthew~

Submit a Comment
New comments are not being accepted on this article at this time.
Click to Rate This Article
working