• Curecanti National Recreation Area


    National Recreation Area Colorado

Weather, Weather All Around Us

National Park Service Mission

...to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area Outreach Education is committed to: Creating an awareness and fostering an appreciation for the mission of the National Park Service and the natural, cultural, and historic resources of Curecanti National Recreation Area and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.


Curriculum enhancing activities designed to complement national and state content standards across a variety of disciplines.

Title: Weather, Weather All Around Us

Grade level: Second Grade

Time length: 60 minutes

Subject areas: Science, mathematics

Teacher: NPS Education Specialist

Colorado Content Standards: Science: (4.2) Students know and understand the general characteristics of the atmosphere and fundamental processes of weather. Math: (5) Students use a variety of tools and techniques to measure, apply the results in problem-solving situations, and communicate the reasoning used in solving these problems.

Theme: Weather can be forecasted by cloud types; precipitation from clouds affects habitat.

NPS focus: Public Law 39-535 (Organic Act),

Public Law 95-250 (Redwood National Park Expansion Act),

Vail Agenda Education Committee Report (Strategic Goal #2; Action Plan 16) and (Strategic Goal #3; Action Plan 52,62),

Curecanti and Black Canyon Themes: Natural Resources/Wildlife

Environmental concepts: The sun is the source of all energy (energy flow).

Everything is connected to everything else (interrelationships).

Everything must fit how and where it lives (adaptations).

Environmental learning hierarchy: Ecological principles, problem-solving processes

Materials: PowerPoint projector and laptop computer with “Weather” slideshow on desktop; 25' extension cord; laminated pictures of cirrus, cumulus, stratus and cumulonimbus clouds; laminated pictures of the type of weather associated with each of the four cloud types; laminated cloud names and = signs; felt board; masking tape; blue construction paper divided into quarters with name of cloud type in each quadrant for each student; 4 cotton balls for each student; glue; black crayons; water; rain gauge; book (see below); crystal ball; thermometer

Schmid, Eleonore. (1992). The Air Around Us. Gossau Zurich, Switzerland: North-South Books.


Knowledge level: Students will be able to verbally identify cloud types and forecast the typical weather associated with them. Students will be able to verbally identify different forms of precipitation.

Comprehension level: Students will be able to verbally explain how weather affects our lifestyles and animal habitats. Students will be able to determine the temperature, using a thermometer.


Today we are going to be talking about weather. Why do you think that the National Park Service Rangers need to know about weather? (because Rangers guide people into nature on hikes or boat tours, and they need to know if it might be rainy or if lightning might strike) How do we find out what the weather will be like? Hold up the crystal ball. Do we use a magic crystal ball to predict the weather? No. Maybe Harry Potter or an old wizard would be able to see the weather deep inside a crystal balll, but we use other tools to predict the weather. What are some tools that help us predict the weather? (thermometer, rain gauge, weather channel, radio, internet, barometer) We also use math to help us predict the weather! What do we call the person who predicts the weather? A forecaster. Today we are going to learn about different kinds of weather and we will even get to make our own weather prediction sheets that you'll be able to bring home to predict the weather for your families, too.


Weather (felt board discussion)

"What are some different types of weather? (rainy, windy, sunny, cloudy, snowy) What do you think causes all of these different types of weather? Heat from the sun! The heat from the sun moves the air around the earth, causing the different types of weather."

"What does the word forecast mean? Forecasting is to predict what is going to happen in the future." Weather forecasters look at several different things in nature. One of the things they look at is clouds."

Let’s look at some clouds and find out how high in the sky each kind of cloud is found. (Put picture of houses at bottom of one side of felt board.) This is where we live and go to school. When we look up into the sky, we can see several different kinds of clouds. The highest clouds are called Cirrus. (They form about 5-6 miles above the surface of the earth). (Put picture of cirrus clouds and label it on the felt board.) They look like horse tails blowing in the wind and are often called mare's tails. Cirrus clouds are present during fair or sunny weather and they predict that the weather might change pretty soon. (Put = and picture of sun next to the cirrus picture).

"Another kind of cloud is called a Cumulus cloud. They form high in the sky (about 3 miles up), but not quite as high as the cirrus clouds. (Put picture of cumulus clouds below the cirrus on the feltboard and label it). Cumulus are known as fair weather clouds because they form on sunny days and disappear at night. If you see cumulus clouds in the sky, it means that the weather will continue to be sunny. (Put = and picture of sun next to the cumulus picture.)

The lowest clouds are called stratus. (They form 1 mile up). Stratus clouds look like thick gray layers, or even fog. (Put picture of stratus on feltboard above houses and below cumulus, and label it.) Stratus clouds usually hold a lot of rain, which makes them look gray. So if the sky is covered in stratus clouds, you better get out your raincoat, because it’s probably going to rain or even snow! (Put = and picture of rain next to stratus picture)

Another cloud that we sometimes see in the sky is a Cumulonimbus cloud, or a thunderhead. (Place laminated picture of cumulonimbus clouds on the feltboard.) "They produce violent storms are often shaped like a fan on top. (Place = and laminated picture of a lightening on the feltboard.)

Now let's look at some pictures to learn more about weather!

Check for student understanding: Using the "Weather" PowerPoint, show various cloud types and ask students to predict the type of weather indicated by that cloud type.

Slide 1: Weather, Weather, All Around Us! What are some different kinds of weather? There may be clouds in the sky, or it may be a sunny day. It could be raining or snowing. There are all different kinds of weather!

Slide 2: Is there weather all over the world? Yes. Which state do we live in? Well, if it’s cold and snowy in Colorado, does that mean it’s cold and snowy everywhere else, too? No. Weather changes all the time, and it can be very different in one place than it is in another. What’s your favorite kind of weather? Why?

Slide 3: Weather affects our lives in many ways. It tells us the kinds of clothes we should wear and what kind of activities we can do each day.

Slide 4: If it's rainy, we can stay inside and read a book or go outside and play in the puddles.

Slide 5: If the weather is nice, we can go sledding or skiing in the winter,

Slide 6: And boating at Blue Mesa Reservoir during the summer.

Slide 7: Are people the only ones who are affected by the weather? What about the wild animals that live outside all year round? They can't go inside to get warm when it's snowing, and they can't put on a raincoat to stay dry. And what about their food? They have to find it outside. If there's lots of snow on the ground, that could be hard to do. That's why some animals hibernate, or sleep, during the winter. Others, like squirrels, collect lots of acorns and other food and they hide it. Then they can eat it during the winter.

Slide 8: Speaking of winter, does the weather change with the seasons? Yes, it does. During the winter, the temperature gets colder, and in some places it snows. In the spring, the snow begins to melt and the flowers begin to sprout up out of the ground. In the summer, it might be hot and sunny, and in the fall, when the leaves are changing colors, it starts to get colder and rainier.

Slide 9: But how do we know what the weather is going to be like? One fun way to tell what the weather will be like each day is to look at the clouds.

Slide 10: The clouds can tell us if it will rain or snow, thunder and lightening, or even if there will be a change in weather for tomorrow.

Slide 11: Did you know that clouds have names? Well, they do. Let’s learn the names of some different kinds of clouds. What kinds of clouds are these? They're cirrus clouds. They tell us that it will be a sunny day.

Slide 12: These clouds are also Cirrus. If there are lots of Cirrus clouds covering the sky, that means that the weather will change soon.

Slide 13: This kind of cloud is called a stratus cloud. Stratus clouds are gray and don't have a shape. They’re thick and they look like a gray blanket separating us from the sun. When you see Stratus clouds, there's a lot of moisture in the air, so it could be a humid day, or a rainy day.

Slide 14: What type of clouds are these? They're cumulus clouds. They predict fair weather, so when you see cumulus clouds, it’s probably a good day to play outside. We can recognize the Cumulus by their flat bottoms and fluffy tops. This kind of cloud kind of looks like cauliflower! When Cumulus grow larger, or swell up in the morning, we need to watch them carefully. These swelling Cumulus could change into Cumulonimbus clouds.

Slide 15: Cumulonimbus clouds bring severe weather, like thunder and lightning, with them. They sometimes have a fan shape on top.

Slide 16: A rainbow is another indication of a certain type of weather. How do rainbows occur? We see rainbows when there is a mixture of sunlight and rain.

Slide 17: At Curecanti, there's a big body of water called Blue Mesa Reservoir. Big lakes like Blue Mesa create different weather than areas that don't have big lakes. Usually, the water in a big lake keeps the temperature cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Areas with big lakes also get lots of snow compared to areas that don't have big lakes. This is called the lake effect.

Slide 18: We use a thermometer to figure out the temperature, right? Who can read the temperature from this thermometer? Is it hot or cold? Do you think that numbers and math can help us learn about the weather? Let’s see!

Slide 19: Let’s pretend that we’re visiting Florida, which is a pretty warm place to be. In the morning, when we wake up, we look at the thermometer. What’s the temperature this morning? (look at the slide and have a student identify the temperature). Once the sun comes out, the temperature usually rises! But today, it’s cloudy. We turn on the radio, and the weather forecaster says that the temperature will rise only 5 degrees. What temperature will it be then? (have a student add the current temperature + 5) (show the change on the thermometer) Who can read this thermometer to tell us the temperature in the afternoon? The temperature is 85 degrees. The weatherman says that the temperature will drop 3 degrees by evening. Who can subtract 3 from 85? It’s 82 degrees. That’s right! We can use math to predict the temperature!

Slide 20: Wow! There’s so much that we can learn by looking at the sky and studying the weather! I hope that tomorrow morning when you get out of bed, you’ll look up and try to spot some clouds in the sky. That way, you’ll be able to predict the weather!

Now we’ll get to make an art project that will help you remember the clouds and what they mean (segue into guided practice).

Guided practice:

Before I pass out the materials to each of you, I’ll do an example. Watch carefully, so you’ll know how to make your own cloud predictor. This paper has four squares. Each one is labeled with a different type of cloud-cirrus, cumulus, stratus, or cumulonimbus. We’ll give you each 4 cottonballs. Take one cottonball and stretch it until it looks like each type of cloud. For example, I want to make a cumulus cloud, which looks light and fluffy, like a head of cauliflower. (On the cumulonimbus cloud, the students can use a black crayon to make it look more ominous, and draw lightning). After I make the cloud, I’ll glue it onto the paper, in the cumulus square. Remember to use only 1 cotton ball for each cloud, or else you’ll run out of cotton! After everyone has made all of the clouds and glued them onto their papers, we’ll work together to fill in the blanks to help us predict the weather. (Clue for ranger: cirrus clouds predict sunny weather, cumulus predict sunny, stratus predict rainy, and cumulonimbus predict thunder and lightning).


Water Cycle Simulation

Boil water in the electric cook pot with lid on . Watch the steam come out and go into the air. (Evaporation)

Put ice in a metal pie pan. Hold the pan over the steam and watch the drops form on the bottom of the pan. (Condensation)

As the drops grow in size, they will get heavy and start to fall. (Precipitation)

This is what happens in nature. Water evaporates, or gets heated and dries up, from streams, lakes and rivers. This water vapor rises and crashes into the cool air. When the air is cold enough, the water vapor forms tiny droplets of water in the clouds. This is called condensation. When these clouds that hold the tiny droplets meet cold air, the droplets fall as rain. When water falls from the sky, it’s called precipitation. Sometimes the water is frozen, like snow or hail. Sometimes it’s liquid. What do we call water that falls from the sky as a liquid? Rain.


See section III.


See section III.


Not appropriate.


Have the children gather around you in a semicircle and read them The Air Around Us. After the story, randomly ask questions reviewing the water cycle, different types of clouds, and what weather we can expect when we see each type of cloud.


Indicate what you judge to have been the strengths of the lesson, what changes you made during the lesson and what changes you would make if you were to teach the unit again.

Did You Know?

Foundation in Iola Basin

Three historic towns were abandoned and flooded when Blue Mesa Reservoir was created: Iola, Cebolla and Sapinero.