Learning about cloud types is a common elementary school activity. Students with visual impairments and blindness may or may not be able to visually identify cloud types in the sky; however, students are aware of the weather and can associate the different cloud types with the weather. Begin the lesson by discussing today's weather and comparing it to yesterday's weather. What kind of effect do you think the clouds have on the weather?
Use the accessible Clouds iBook to introduce the four types of clouds:
- Cumulus: White, flufy and round. They are seen on nice days.
- Cirrus: Thin wispy and white. They are located high in the sky and are almost entirely made up of ice particles. This type of cloud is often seen before rain or snow.
- Stratus: Low, gray, 'blanket-like'. They can become fog if they are low enough to the ground.
- Cumulonimbus: Tall, vertical clouds, often called thunderheads. They usually produce lightening and storms.
*'Nimbus' in front of a cloud means a cloud that produces precipitation. (Nimbostratus: dark clouds that are seen when rain or snow is happening all day long.)
Discuss the different characteristics of the clouds. Be sure to point out the height (elevation) texture and color of the clouds.
Create a Cloudscape Activity
Provide construction paper/braille paper, cotton balls, glue and crayons/chalk for each student. Have each student write/braille one cloud name on each page. Using the provided materials, each student creates a cloud that depicts the named cloud's characteristics. Dark chalk can be substituted for the crayon as it provides more tactile feedback.
You must have the free iBooks app installed on your iOS device or Mac. Then, download the free Clouds iBook here and select 'Open in iBooks'.
Lindsey's Tactile Cloud Book
Lindsey Lanier, a freshman at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, created the Clouds iBook as a class project. She also created a tactile version of her book, as an example for others. Her tactile book has the sentences in braille at the top of each page. She added a blue sheet of paper below the braille (provides better contrast between the page and the cotton balls) and used cotton balls, glue and crayons to represent the various types of clouds. See the photos of each page below.
How Do Clouds Form?
Education World shares a hands-on experiment which illustrates how clouds form.
- Glass jar
- Hot water
- Small metal tray
- Ice cubes
- Sheet of black construction paper
Note: When presenting a class experiment, allow the student with a visual impairment to physically explore each material used in the experiment (as appropriate). Describe each step and each reaction. Guide student discussion about what is happening. If appropriate, actively involve the student in the experiment itself. A student with low vision should be given preferred seating; if the experiment can be done under a document camera, use a screen sharing app like Join.Me so that the student can view (and zoom) the experiment on his/her own device.