Friday, June 10, 2016


It was last spring that we were studying clouds. We had just put up a fort/tower/swing set in our backyard and had climbed up on top. From there we could see the whole wide world. It brought me back to springs in my childhood, long forgotten, as we stood up there in the midst of the bright blue sky and billowing clouds. We were daydreaming and looking forward to all the things that spring would bring.

I am always looking for ways to introduce new subjects to the kids, so when I saw one particularly beautiful and mysterious cloud, I said, "Wow. I wonder what kind of cloud that is." Immediately Fynn came to see what it was and Rowan followed close behind. "What is it?" they asked. They were now curious about clouds. So we went in and researched clouds on the internet together. It turns out that cloud was a cumulonimbus.

We found a cloud identification game online that Fynn liked to play for a while, and I made us a cloud chart to hang on the wall, or to take with us in the car. Now we could identify any cloud in the sky. Fynn memorized them pretty well and made his own chart using a blue table cloth and pillow stuffing. We made cloud experiments with water, stuffing, bubbles, shaving cream and so on.

As the kids' interests turned to other things, I went on in my pondering of clouds. We had learned that clouds are formed  by water evaporating, and that it takes particles for the molecules to cling to, but there seems to be so much we don't know. For instance I can make a "cloud in a jar" but I'm really only creating steam or mist. I can't re- create those billowy white beings. I suspect the charges of ions must have something to do with their swirling billowing patterns. Water and wind seem to also have these patterns. And in a rigid, less flowing way, so do continents and land formations! Also, there seem to be so many more kinds of clouds in reality than we learn about in books. I'm still looking for answers to these questions, while the clouds themselves continue to inspire me, reminding me of the past and making promises of future adventures.

I will leave you with this verse from Joni Mitchell:

Flows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
Feathered canyons everywhere
I looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's clouds' illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Happy learning!

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