Looking At Clouds From Both Sides Now!


Possible Classroom Concepts: Science – Cloud Formations

Language Arts – Literature, Reading For Information

Possible Art Concepts: Art History –  Rene Magritte, John Constable, Armando Pollini, Samantha Fields

Drawing (Observational Drawing, Illustration), Art Careers (Illustrator)

Well, it’s happening again. What you ask? Frequency Illusion! I’ve talked about this concept in the past.  Frequency Illusion is when you see something and then you start seeing it everywhere. This time I keep seeing Clouds.


So, it all started when Armando Pollini’s Pump (a walk in the clouds) made an appearance on my Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Masterpiece a Day Calendar. Then a friend sent me an email with all kinds of fantastic cloud photos. To top it off  my new blog obsession, The Jealous Curator, posted some paintings of clouds by Samantha Fields that look just like photographs.  So, I think the universe is trying to tell me that I should talk about clouds.

A funny thing about the sky and clouds. I’ve always loved them and considered them an ever changing canvas. I once mentioned this to my husband. Now it’s a running joke with us. Every time I point out a beautiful sky or cloud formation, he pipes up, ” The sky is an ever changing canvas!” Now everyone thinks he’s so clever! LOL! Well, I’m not the only one who loves clouds. Keith Christiansen, Chairman of European Paintings at the Met, NYC, talks about clouds and art here. So, if you are looking for a different way to introduce or review the different kinds of clouds, you could always visit the art world. Some science teachers seem to agree with me. Check out this interactive post that shows  paintings featuring clouds and cloud photos as reference.

Pollini’s Pump reminds me of the many cumulus cloud paintings of Surrealist artist, Rene Magritte. Look here for some excellent examples of Magritte’s cloud paintings. As part of a literature unit that includes Rene’s clouds try Dinner at Magritte’s  by Michael Garland  or Magritte’s Marvelous Hat by D.B. Johnson.

Before the invention of the camera and all the electronic devices we have today, scientists,  like artists, observed and drew objects to show the structure of the natural world. Your students could create these small sketchbooks. Then each day for a week, they could go out and do some observational drawings of clouds, figure out what kind of clouds they are and label them. This would be a GREAT activity for your visual learners to help recognize and identify cloud formations. Students could also use their imaginations to see objects in the clouds, like we used to do as kids or those found in Eric Carle’s picture book,  Little Cloud. John Constable, mentioned in the interactive post above, did a number of observational paintings of clouds. Find a lesson on Constable’s Cloud studies here. Find a science lesson on scientific sketching here.

For an intermediate level Language Arts lesson on reading for information, try out Tomie de Paolo’s The Cloud Book. Find a video of the book here.

Also, when teaching any of the picture books mentioned in this post, remind students that illustrations are works of commercial art and that illustration is an art career.

So if your students are having problems understanding clouds like Joni Mitchell, why not use artworks or illustrations in picture books to help out? How do you teach clouds? I’d love to hear. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!


Another Day, Another Stage

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Countries Around The World (Japan)

Language Arts – Literature, Story Telling, Retelling, Mathematics – Measurement

Possible Art Concepts – Art History



In my last post, I talked about toy stages popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Europe and the USA. It just so happens that Japan had their own version of miniature stage in the 1900s called Kamishibai.  Toy stages were performed by the children. Kamishibai stages were performed by storytellers who travelled from town to town. The storyteller carried their stage on the back of a bicycle. Upon entering a town, the storyteller would bang together two sticks, called clackers, to announce his presence. Sort  of like the jingle of the ice cream trucks of today. Children would gather around and, using illustrated cards housed inside the stage, the storyteller would share two or three stories. The stories would often contain cliff hangers to insure the return of children upon his next visit. At the end of the story the Kamishibai man would sell candy. You can find an informative video that explains Kamishibai here. To see a Kamishibai story performed look here. Kamishibai became even more popular when silent films started because in Japan silent films were narrated just like Kamishibai. Some people in Japan call a television an electric Kamishibai because it is an animated version of the storytelling stages of the past.  Kamishibai illustrators started drawing  for manga and anime when the story telling tradition lost its popularity in the 1950s.

For a literature lesson about the Kamishibai, you could read the story, Kamishibai Man by Allen. You can also find a video of the story here.

You can give your students a Kamishibai experience of their own, as simple or involved as you’d like to get. Each student could illustrate a section of a story you are studying in class and then take turns retelling the story. OR You could go all out and check out these lessons that include correlations with social studies, math and language arts.

So, if you are looking for a new retelling activity, or something to spice up a unit on Japan, Kamishibai may be right up your alley.

I would love to hear what you think. What kinds of lessons do you use to teach retelling or Japan in your classroom? Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!