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Let's Learn: Clouds

Clouds over Lake Winnipeg at Grand Beach

Many of us are spending a lot more time at home these days. Our Let's Learn series offers family-friendly educational activities and resources to help exercise your brain while keeping the kids entertained. Each post has a different theme related to Lake Winnipeg and offers different types of resources including colouring sheets, activity pages, videos, interactive online activites and experiments. Let's Learn about clouds!

Have you ever looked up at the sky and noticed that sometimes the clouds are big and fluffy and sometimes they're small and wispy? Have you noticed that some clouds are white and some are grey? Can you think of other words to describe clouds you've seen?

Each type of cloud has a different name. By understanding the different types of clouds, you can actually predict the weather! Watch this video by NOVA PBS to learn more:

Read about clouds

Check out this post from Ducksters Education Site: Weather – Clouds. It even includes a quiz to take after learning about clouds!

Make a cloud in a jar!

This activity is adapted from the book, What on Earth? Water by Isabel Thomas and Pau Morgan

What you'll need:

  • A glass jar with a metal lid
  • Water
  • A liquid measuring cup (the kind with the pouring spout)
  • Ice cubes
  • Hairspray

What to do:

  1. Ask a grown-up to warm up the glass jar by filling it with hot (but not boiling) water
  2. Turn the metal lid upside down. Place a handful of ice cubes on it
  3. Ask a grown-up to pour the hot water out and then ask them to put about an inch of hot water into the jar. The next two steps should happen quickly so get ready!
  4. Ask a grown-up to squirt a small amount of hairspray into the jar but try not to get it on the sides of the jar
  5. Quickly, place the upside-down lid on the jar with the ice cubes on top
  6. Watch what happens next. Can you see a little cloud in the jar?

What? How did that happen?

The hot water in the jar evaporated. That means it turned into a gas called "water vapour." The water vapour rises to the top of the jar and it cools when it reaches the lid with the ice cubes. As it cools, it turns back into liquid water. Tiny water droplets stick to the hairspray and a cloud forms!

As the droplets get bigger, you might be able to see them raining back to the bottom of the jar.

The same thing happens to the water in lakes, ponds, puddles, rivers, and oceans when the Sun heats the water. Some of that water evaporates and rises high into the air. When it gets high enough, the water vapour cools and clouds form!

Wispy clouds covering a blue sky over Winnipeg.

The water cycle

Did you know freshwater is actually millions of years old? The process of evaporating, turning into clouds and raining back to Earth has been happening over and over again. All the water on Earth has been here since before the dawn of time. To learn more about the water cycle, watch this video from the National Science Foundation:

Check out these other posts in our Let's Learn series:

Let's Learn: Water Pollution

Let's Learn: Lake Winnipeg Watershed

Let's Learn: Road Salt

Let's Learn: Hiking

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