Categorizing Clouds for Kids: Cloud Pictures and Project
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?
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 ("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 ("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 ("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 ("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.
Strange and Beautiful Cloud Formations All Over the World (video)
Table for Cloud to Weather Association
Light rain that may or may not reach the ground.
Heavy continuous rain or snow.
Usually none, unless large formations that have been asscoiated with showers of rain and snow begin to react.
Thunderstorms, lightening, showers of rain, snow or hail.
May drizzle-may be asscoiated with low visability.
May drizzle-may be asscoiated with low visability.
More Education for Kids (and adults) the Fun Way!
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:
How To Use The Project Page
- Print out the page below.
- Write in the date you are observing the clouds.
- Write in the time of day you are checking the sky.
- Write in the type of clouds you are seeing at that moment.
- Write in how the weather is reacting with the cloud category you see.
- Compare your results to the results of those your friends have reported.
- Check the official weather reports in your area to see how close your answers are to the actual weather reports.