Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Study On Clouds

I love nature and I'd like to get out more, but as I explained in my last post, we just don't. Clouds (and stars actually) have long held a fascination for me. So I guess it was only a matter of time that I would find a way to incorporate it into our nature studies. 

Most recently, I started having the girls observe the clouds on a fairly regularly basis, making sketches and noting the weather. To help them, I printed out a cloud guide from here to help them identify the clouds. 

While doing this, the girls complained that it was hard to draw clouds properly and this seemed like a great opportunity to link in an art lesson or two on "How to paint the sky". And then, I thought why not turn it into a fun unit study? So I declared an "All About Clouds" day and quickly put together a unit study on clouds which would allow us to delve more deeply into all areas of the subject. 

After the usual morning's task of cloud sketching and identification was completed, we started our day reading the following books:



John Day's Book of Clouds is a beautiful photographic portfolio of clouds which is organised and explained very clearly. We "ooh-ed and ahh-ed" over many of his photos and absorbed a great deal of new information . The Man Who Named The Clouds is a lovely simple picture book which packs a lot of learning into a easy read.  It combined biography, history and weather science.

In my opinion, a study on clouds lends itself perfectly to poetry and art appreciation. I picked out a few simple little poems to read and focused particularly on the idea of Imagery.

By Christina Rossetti

White sheep, white sheep,
On a blue hill,
When the wind stops,
You all stand still.
When the wind blows,
You walk away slow.
White sheep, white sheep,
Where do you go?

Rain Rain
by Jame Horner

Rain rain
falls on the street,
mud in puddles
cleaning my feet.

Thunder thunder
rumble and roar,
close the windows
and lock the door.

Clouds clouds
black and gray,
heavy with water
to drop all day.

Sun sun
is breaking through,
clouds are moving,
the rain stops too.

Rainbow rainbow
across the sky,
see-through colours
to tickle my eyes.

And then we tackled Percy Shelley's longer, more complex poem, aptly named The Cloud. We took it verse by verse and discussed the language, imagery, alliteration, assonance and personification. It is a long poem and we only looked at the first three verses. You can read the whole poem here.

The Cloud
By Percy Bysshe Shelley

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast;
And all the night 'tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,
Lightning, my pilot, sits;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;

Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains;
And I all the while bask in Heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.

After reading all that poetry, we had to try our hand at writing some of our own. So I instructed the girls that they were going to write a poem in free verse. We started off with a five minute freewrite where they could get all their thoughts down about on paper without worrying about spelling or grammar. Then they took a short break and came back to their work. They highlighted phrases and ideas that they liked and then off they went, using those phrases and ideas as a jumping off point for writing their own 

In the afternoon, we moved onto learning how to paint clouds. I think this was the highlight for us and we had a lovely time experimenting different techniques and ideas.We used these Youtube videos to start us off and then after that we looked at photos from The Book Of Clouds and tried to paint our favourite pictures. 

I belatedly found this lovely Cloud Art slideshow at Hearts and Trees, which I will definitely use for more art appreciation on how different artists paint clouds.

We finished up by reading a general book on weather and exploring some weather terms but not in any great detail. We also used some very helpful worksheets from here to complete our studies. We'll probably have to come back to do a more comprehensive study at some point but all in all, it was an enjoyable day of learning. 


Melissa said...

Great resources! Love the poetry!

amy in peru said...

wow. you really went all out! :)

I'm sure it was a lot of fun!

amy in peru

Natassia said...

Hi Aunty Chi this is Tassia!! I remembered the link you gave and I really enjoyed reading all your posts on the different activities and adventures the girls are up to. ^^ Home Schooling sounds so fun!

My dad says hello too btw. :)



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