Tag: weather (Page 1 of 2)

#Nonfiction Monday #kidlit: Soar with Breaking Through the Clouds

Right in time for Women’s History Month, we have a wonderful new picture book biography,  Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson by Sandra Nickel and illustrated by Helena Perez Garcia.

Joanne Simpson’s story is one of perseverance. When she was a girl, Joanne discovered the joy of watching clouds. As she sailed in her boat– or flew in her plane in later years– she learned the importance of paying attention to the weather.

Joanne went to the University of Chicago about the same time World War II broke out. They needed someone to teach Air Force officers about winds, and Joanne an aptitude for weather, so they asked her to take over. Once the war ended, however, and Joanne decided to continue her studies, her professors didn’t agree. They told her:

“No woman ever got a doctorate in meteorology. And no woman ever will.”

Joanne wasn’t willing to give up. She worked hard.

She discovered so many important things that she was able to achieve her dreams.

Breaking Through the Clouds is a perfect choice for Women’s History Month, as well as for budding historians and budding scientists. Get inspired by a copy today!

Related Activities

1. Keep a weather journal.

Writing in a journal is a wonderful habit to start. You can keep a journal that is devoted to the weather or you can keep weather records in other kinds of journals.

This Scishow video discusses how to keep a journal and gives a few basics about weather.


2. Learn to identify clouds.

Being able to recognize and understand clouds can help in many careers that rely on the weather, from aviation (as mentioned in the book) to agriculture.

Some clouds form thin sheets high in the sky, like altostratus and cirrostratus.

Other clouds are piles, like cumulus clouds.

You can find guides online. For example, NASA has a Cloud ID sheet and activity guide to download (PDF).

Books, like the Peterson Field Guide To Weather (Peterson Field Guides) by Jay Anderson and John A. Day, may also help.

Want to learn more? Visit our growing list of children’s books about weather at Science books for Kids.

And for Women’s History Month, delve into some of the wonderful biographies of women scientists at Science Books for Kids.


Sandra Nickel says that story ideas are everywhere; you just have to reach out and grab them.  She holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her first book, Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack, was awarded a Christopher Award and was a Golden Kite Award finalist. Sandra lives in Chexbres, Switzerland, where she blogs about children’s book writers and illustrators at whatwason.com. To learn more, visit her website.

Twitter:  @senickel
Facebook: @sandranickelbooks
Instagram: @sandranickelbooks

Check out the book trailer and activity/discussion sheets on the resource page!


Reading age ‏ : ‎ 6 – 9 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Abrams Books for Young Readers (March 8, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1419749560
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1419749568

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Weather: Evaporation Activities for Kids

Our post today was inspired by Clouds: A Compare and Contrast Book by Katharine Hall.

Young readers explore the concept of comparing and contrasting, while at the same time learning about different kinds of clouds and how to describe them.

Some clouds are big and fluffy;
others are thin and wispy.

The simple picture book book is illustrated with a series of two-page spreads filled with gorgeous color photographs of different types of clouds, like the one on the cover.

The real treasure, however, is the “For Creative Minds” in the back matter. This section has four pages of interactive activities to reinforce learning. Examples include experiments with evaporation, a cloud match exercise, and information about how clouds are connected to weather prediction.

Because evaporation is the source of water that ends up in clouds, let’s try some evaporation experiments of our own.

Water Evaporation

Evaporation is a chemical process that involves a change of state from liquid to gas.

1. Observation opportunity for youngest scientists

To study evaporation, you will need water, sponges or paint brushes, and a sidewalk or other flat surface on a sunny, hot day. Simply paint the water onto a flat surface and watch it evaporate. Try different surfaces, different amounts of water, different patterns of application, etc. Use sidewalk chalk to draw around a large wet patch and then revisit the site to emphasize how the wet area has been reduced over time.

If the children ask, explain that the liquid water is turning into a gas or vapor as it disappears and is rising up into the air.

2. Simple evaporation experiment for young scientists

Can you prevent evaporation with plastic wrap?


  • Water
  • Measuring cup
  • Plastic wrap
  • Timing device (optional)
  • Level, flat, hard surface like sidewalk or driveway
  • Rocks to hold down plastic wrap (optional)

Create two similar-sized and similar-shaped wet areas by pouring a measured amount of water onto a flat, level surface (1/4 cup of water works well). Note:  If the surface is sloped, the water will tend to roll off and form irregular shapes.

Cover one of the spots with plastic wrap and hold down with rocks, if necessary.

evap-expt-beforeWait a few minutes (time will vary with temperature, sunlight, and humidity).

Return and assess which spot has evaporated the most.


3. Evaporation challenge for middle-grade scientists


  • Shallow plates or bowls
  • Bottles or jars, preferably with narrow necks
  • Measuring cup(s)
  • Timing device(s)
  • Thermometer(s)
  • Cotton balls or tissues
  • Markers
  • Paper
  • Scales to weigh bowls and jars

Challenge the children to come up with questions about evaporation and then generate a hypothesis. Using the materials provided, design and carry out an experiment to test their hypothesis.

Some suggestions:

  • Measure the rate of evaporation of 1/4 cup of water in a shallow plate or bowl versus in a narrow-necked jar (For example:  weigh the bowls and jars with water before and after evaporation).
  • Measure the rate of evaporation in a shallow dish in the sun versus in a shady location (mark the levels before and after evaporation with a marker).
  • Measure the rate of evaporation of 1/4 cup of water open in a shallow dish versus 1/4 cup of water soaked into tissue or cotton balls in a shallow dish.
  • Take the temperature with the thermometer on a sunny surface. Then place a wet tissue or cotton ball over the base of the thermometer. How does the temperature change over time?

Discuss their results.

Older engineers will likely enjoy the evaporation-powered engine we discussed in the STEAM festival post about engineering.

 Further resources:

The book publisher, Arbordale Publishing, offers a number of resources, including a free 17 page Teaching Activities Guide to accompany Clouds (see right sidebar).

Weather-books-for-kidsWe have a growing list of weather-related children’s books at Science Books for Kids.

Children interested in weather? They might enjoy this wind map of the U.S. How would the amount of wind effect evaporation?


Disclosures: The book was from our local library. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

Weekend Science Fun: Be a Meteorologist

NASA image courtesy MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.

Ever watched the weather report and wondered what it would be like to be a meteorologist? Here’s a fun way to learn about the weather and try out being weather scientist at the same time:  Dress up as a meteorologist and give a pretend weather report.


  • a camcorder/video camera
  • poster paper and markers to make weather maps
  • local weather information
  • dress up clothes

Step 1. Do some research about meteorologists and what they do.

Did you know meteorologists stand in front of a green screen (called a chrome-a-key) and point to weather fronts by looking in a nearby monitor? The Weather Wiz Kids website has information about Becoming a Meteorologist.

2. Learn how to read a weather map and prepare a weather report. Kids Online Resource (KidsOLR) has a Meteorology page with tons of weather links to help with your research (this page does have Google ads at the top). You can use the weather words list below to get you started, too.

3. Make posters showing cold fronts, warm fronts, the current weather conditions, and the local weather forecast.

4. Dress up like you are going to be on television. Then have a friend or family member take a video of you presenting the weather.

Extension:  Some television stations have tours or information days. Check to see if you can visit one of your local meteorologists to learn more.

Weather Words:

  • air mass – air moving in large blocks
  • atmosphere – the blanket of air that encircles the earth. It is a mixture of gases, liquids and fine solids. Living things can also be found in the atmosphere, such as algae, bacteria and fungi. The atmosphere contains 78% nitrogen and 21 % oxygen.
  • blizzard – heavy snow with high winds, 35 mph or faster
  • cloud classification -clouds are classified by shape and height and given names such as cumulus, cirrus, stratus, etc.
  • condensation – process of water vapor changing into a liquid
  • dew point – temperature at which air becomes saturated with water vapor and condensation occurs (keep in mind that warm air holds more water vapor than cool air)
  • drizzle – fine precipitation with water droplet sizes smaller than rain
  • evaporation – changing liquids into vapor or gas at temperatures lower than the boiling point
  • flood – water levels rising above normal, often quickly
  • fog – technically a very low-lying cloud
  • fronts, cold front – cold air mass approaches warm air mass and lifts it
  • warm front – warm air meets cooler air and rises over it
  • hail, hailstones – chunks of ice produced by updrafts in thunderstorms
  • humidity – amount of water vapor in the air
  • hurricane -large-scale, violent wind and rain storm that forms in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • isobar – line drawn on a weather map to indicate points of equal air pressure
  • isotherm – line drawn on a map to connect points of equal temperature
  • jet stream–  a fast-moving river of air high in the atmosphere
  • lightning – huge electrical charge forming during storms
  • meteorologist – person who studies weather
  • monsoon – heavy rain resulting from a prevailing seasonal wind pattern
  • nimbus – dark clouds full of water vapor
  • precipitation – water falling from clouds
  • relative humidity – amount of water vapor in the air compared to the amount needed for saturation at that temperature
  • shower – brief period of precipitation
  • sleet – snow that melts in the air and then refreezes as pellets
  • snow – ice crystals that form in clouds and fall to earth
  • sun – the star that is at the center of our solar system
  • temperature – amount of hotness or coldness as measured by the kinetic energy of the atoms or molecules
  • thunder – lightning passing through air causes a shock wave heard as the loud noise called thunder
  • tornado – violently rotating column of air
  • typhoon – large-scale, violent wind and rain storm that forms in the Pacific Ocean
  • wind -moving air

If you like your video and upload it, be sure to send us a link.

Looking for more information about weather? See our growing list of weather children’s books at Science Books for Kids.


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