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Learn About the 3 Types of Clouds for Kids

Updated on December 28, 2013

How Clouds Form

The air is filled with a gas called water vapor. When the air cools down the vapor condenses or turns into water. This is just like when steam from a hot shower hits a cold mirror. Water droplets called condensation form. Clouds are made up of water droplets or ice crystals.

The different types of clouds depend on what they're made from. Clouds made from water droplets have very noticeable edges. Clouds made from water crystals have fuzzy edges. Clouds that are very thick can look dark because sunlight can't pass through them.

The three main cloud types are stratus, cumulus and cirrus. Each of these types has subtypes.

Types of Clouds

Stratus clouds form in layers. You will often see stratus clouds on gloomy days. They're gray in color and sometimes bring light rain. Nimbostratus clouds bring rain or snow.

Cumulus clouds look like big, puffy pieces of cotton. They form low in the sky and usually predict fair weather. When they get very big they turn into storm clouds called cumulonimbus clouds.

Cirrus clouds have a wispy appearance. These clouds form at much higher altitudes, which means they're very high in the sky. Because they're so high, they're made out of ice crystals. You will often see cirrus clouds on days with nice weather.

Fog is a cloud that forms on the ground.

Cirrus, Stratus and Cumulus clouds
Cirrus, Stratus and Cumulus clouds

Clouds Quiz: Test Your Knowledge


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