Inquiry: Clouds & Thunder

Hi friends! I'm sitting down today to share about the inquiry we just wrapped up!

When we did our March inquiry brainstorm (I do these when there are no spontaneous wonders to expand on, I just ask the students to tell me everything they are wondering about about and I sort through them and pick a topic to investigate from these questions) there were quite a few friends wondering about things in the sky! So we decided to take those questions and do a sky inqury.  We focused on clouds and thunder/lightning.

*I totally misspelled lightning for the majority of the inquiry.  So I apologize in advance! Live and learn! Now I definitely know how to spell it!"*

On the first day we read "How Do Clouds Form?" by Lynn Peppas and we recorded on the whiteboard what we learned.  Then we had one of the students who originally asked the question come and record what we learned to put on our inquiry board.  He recorded, "Clouds float in the sky because they are made up of tiny water droplets or ice crystals.  Each droplet is so small and light that it floats in the air."

You can see his writing and picture on the inquiry board below (top middle):

Next we read the book "It Looked Like Spilt Milk".  Then we had two centres available to go with the book.  First I put out this retell centre.  I got the templates for the felt pieces from  The students used the book to try to retell the story in the correct sequence. 

We also had this centre where students made their own spilled milk art using cotton balls.  Then they wrote their own spilled milk sentences to describe what they made!  They LOVED this activity!

Here are the students working on their spilt milk pictures and writing...

And here are some of the completed pieces:

"Sometimes it looked like a tornado, but it wasn't a tornado.  It was just a cloud in the sky."

"Sometimes it looked like a fidget spinner.  But it wasn't a fidget spinner.  It was just a cloud in the sky."

"Sometimes it looked like a sight word.  But it wasn't a sight word.  It was just a cloud in the sky."

If you would like to download the writing template for this craft, you can download it by clicking here or on the image below:

We also had this Raindrop CVC Search in our sensory bin to tie in with our cloud inquiry!  The students were invited to read a CVC word and then find the corresponding picture.  Then they were asked to record the word on the clipboard.

You can find this activity in my "Kindergarten Spring Activities" pack.  You can click here or on the image below if you are interested in taking a closer look!

Next we read the book "Little Cloud" by Eric Carle and made our own "Little Cloud" art! I mixed shaving cream and white glue (half and half) to create the puffy "cloud" paint for the students to use!

"Little cloud changed into a hyena"

"Little cloud changed into a tree."

If you would like to do this activity with your kids too, you can download the writing template by clicking here or on the image below:

I also made this sensory bin for the kids to explore! It has blue water beads, water, airplanes and soap clouds in them! The soap clouds are ivory bar soap microwaved for 2 minutes.  They were so cool and the kids loved playing with the different textures and making stories with the materials provided here!

On the fourth day we investigated the question "How are clouds made?"  We read pages 6-9 out of the book "How Do Clouds Form?" by Lynn Peppas and we filled in a cloze passage on chart paper.  You can see the cloze passage we filled out on the bulletin board at the top of this post!

On the fifth day we investigated the question "How are clouds made?" again but this time I performed a little experiment for them! I followed the "How To Make A Cloud In A Jar" experiment steps from No Time for Flashcards.

First I boiled some water in a kettle while they were at recess.  Then when we started the experiment, I poured some hot water into the glass jar.  I told them the hot water represents how the sun heats up the water and the water will start to evaporate.  Then I sprayed some hairspray into the jar.  We talked about how the hairspray particles represent the dust in the air that the water vapour will cling on to in the sky.  Then we closed the lid and put some ice on the lid.  We reviewed how the air is colder higher in the sky and that is why the water vapour changes back into water droplets.  We watched as the water vapour changed back into water droplets as it evaporated towards the top of the jar and cling to the hairspray, creating a cloud in the jar!  It was really cool!  Finally we opened the jar and watched the cloud float out.  I wish I could show you the reaction of the kids.  They were all clapping and so excited.  They requested to do it again and we ended up doing it three times!

I had one of the students take pictures of the process and the next day we worked on a recount of the steps (procedural writing) and I had students come and write each step on a sheet with the pictures.  You can see their finished work on the bulletin board at the bottom of this post!

Next we moved on to some questions about thunder and lightening.  We investigated the question, "Why does it thunder?" by reading the book "Thunder and Lightning" by Alice K. Flanagan.  This was a really great book that explained thunder and lightning in a Kindergarten friendly way!  After the lesson, we recorded what we learned and I had the student who originally posed this question come and record our new learning.  He wrote "Lightning gives off a lot of heat.  The heat causes a loud sound called thunder."

The next day I had this 2 part art activity out for the kids to try!  On the first day I had the students paint the background by mixing black and white paint to create the stormy sky.

Here they are working on their backgrounds:

On the second day they cut out their cloud(s), lightening bolt(s) and raindrop(s) from construction paper and glued it on to their backgrounds.  I provided some tracers but they were free to cut their shapes on their own as well.  When they were done I had them either trace the sentence, copy the sentence or write their own thunder/lightening fact.

If you would like to try this art/craft activity with your kids too, you can click here or on the image below to download the writing template:

The next day we watched "What Causes Thunder and Lightening?" by Scishow Kids.  We ended up watching it twice and filling in the corresponding cloze chart for two days since she talks fast and there is a lot of information to remember from the video!

You can see the cloze chart we filled out on the bulletin board below!

Here is our final bulletin board for our sky inquiry!

This one was a tricky topic! The science behind clouds and lightening/thunder was tricky to explain in a Kindergarten friendly way (while still being accurate) but they are an advanced group and they seem to have gotten most of the concepts we talked about!

Next we are taking a short break from student-directed inquiry and will be working on Earth Day lessons during our usual inquiry input time!  I'll be back with another inquiry post (I'm hoping to fit in at least one more before I go on mat leave!) when we get back to it!

- Yukari

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