Is it just me, or have the clouds been more noticeably pretty and dramatic this summer? Warmth probably brings more remarkable clouds, or at least one tends to pause and look at the sky more when it's not 2º out. In any case, it has been a wonderful summer in the Northeast and I have found myself doing quite a bit of cloud gazing.
To the point, clouds are a pretty great language context- they can be described, compared, associated with other shapes, and they are very educationally relevant to science units on weather and the water cycle. At EdCampBLC in mid-July, a participant shared the CloudSpotter app during the closing app-sharing session (these are called "Smackdowns"), and I was instantly intrigued. CloudSpotter ($1.99, found under iPhone apps but usable on iPad) is like a field guide to clouds; you can explore a cloud library of main cloud types as well as more exotic clouds and phenomena, in which each is clearly and even humorously explained, the text serving as a good context for mapping expository text. This section also has a short, engaging animated film on the water cycle. CloudSpotter is also interactive in a very fun way: snap a photo of a cloud, attempt to identify it, and submit it, and you will be able to contribute to your own cloud collection. The creators of the app review your submission and indicate if you have identified the cloud correctly (I identified several clouds and received a response within 24 hours)!
-I have found taking pictures of clouds to be a fun task with kids, stretching back to the days when I would then connect the digital camera, insert the picture in a PowerPoint slide, and have them write about the weather for the day (good schema-building). With iPad, not surprisingly, it is so much easier! Screenshot your cloud pics from CloudSpotting and add them to any app that allows you to combine pictures and text, Popplet Lite, for example.
-This app could be used in conjunction with other resources that allow you to build descriptive language through the context of weather: viewing weather forecasts on TV station websites, EdHeads' Weather Activities, Swackett.
-Combine this app with the use of Tellagami and create weather forecasts!
-This app would pair well with a few picture books to build language: It Looked Like Spilt Milk and Cloudette (which has a great narrative structure for story mapping).
Hope you have all had a great summer and your transition back to school treats you well!