Do you remember laying in the grass as a child, looking up at the clouds and trying to figure out what the different shapes looked like? Sometimes what you saw was vastly different than what your friends saw, even when you were looking at the same exact cloud. All clouds are unique, like snowflakes, and look slightly different from one another.
There are three different types of clouds. Clouds occur when there is moisture in the sky, and depending on various factors such as temperature, and humidity, they form different types of clouds. Clouds can either be formed when there are liquid droplets or frozen crystals of water in the sky.
Learning About the Different Types of Clouds
Cirrus Clouds: The first type of cloud we are going to be talking about are cirrus clouds. These clouds are really thin and airy looking and tend to resemble cotton candy as you begin to pull it apart and eat it, yummy! Cirrus clouds indicate that it is usually a nice day of weather. These clouds float the highest in the sky of any type of cloud. Cirrus clouds are formed when water vapor undergoes deposition, which means that a substance changes from a gas to a solid, creating the cloud!
Cumulus Clouds: For me, cumulus clouds are what I think of when I think of the word cloud. Cumulus clouds are the big puffy clouds that we see in the sky. As a kid whenever I would draw clouds in the sky for any picture, I drew them big and puffy, just like a cumulus cloud. These float pretty low in the sky and you typically don’t have to worry about rain or bad weather when they are around! Cumulus clouds occur when warm air rises, and then the temperature drops, creating relative humidity.
Stratus Clouds: If you spot a stratus cloud, this usually means that there is bad weather coming, either rain or snow, so break out your umbrellas! Stratus clouds are the low floating, grey clouds you see when a storm is on the rise! If you have foggy weather, that is actually a stratus cloud just at ground level! Stratus clouds are created when warm, moist air comes from the ground to the sky and it loses its pressure.
Stratocumulus Clouds – These clouds are low, puffy and grayish or white clouds that come in patches with blue sky peeking out between. These clouds are usually at the very beginning or the very end of bad weather. So, if you haven’t had bad weather for a while and see these clouds, it might mean that storms are on their way!
Altocumulus Clouds – These clouds are the most common type of clouds in the middle atmosphere. They are spotted humid, warm mornings and can mean that thunderstorms are coming later in the afternoon. A lot of people mistake these clouds for stratocumulus clouds because they are both white or gray patchy clouds but altocumulus clouds are higher up in the sky and appear to be no bigger than the size of your thumb.
Nimbostratus Clouds – These dark, gray clouds cover the whole sky and block out the sun from shining through. Nimbostratus clouds are your traditional rain clouds and you’ll see them when rain or snow is falling in an area.
Altostratus Clouds – These mid-level clouds, are a gray sheet that cover the sky but the sun can still usually be seen behind them.
There you have it, these are the three main and most common types of clouds you will see on a regular basis! I hope that this has made you more informed of the different types of clouds and now you can even identify them when you’re outside and share with everyone just what types of clouds are up in the sky at that time!
Want to continue learning about clouds? Here are some really fun crafts and projects that will help your kids to learn even more!
- Shaving Cream Rain Clouds – One Little Project at a Time…
- Preschool Cotton Ball Clouds Activity – I Heart Crafty Things
- Weather science: How to make a cloud in a jar (2 different methods!) – Gift of Curiosity
- Clouds Activity – The Amazing World of Clouds – Engaging Teaching
- Storm in a Jar Experiment – Growing a Jeweled Rose
- Types of Clouds Worksheets – Itsy Bitsy Fun
- All About Clouds for Kids: Types and Names of Clouds Video
- Rain Cloud Craft for Kids – The Kindergarten Connection
- Toilet Paper Roll Binoculars Craft for Cloud Observation – Buggy and Buddy
- Montessori-Inspired Cloud Unit – Living Montessori Now
- Identifying Cloud Types: Puff Paint Clouds – Schooling a Monkey
- Cloud in a Cup – Parenting Chaos
- Rain Cloud in a Jar – Growing a Jeweled Rose