How to Build a Cloud Chart: Observing and Identifying Different Cloud Formations Visually

Have you ever gazed skyward, mesmerized by the ever-changing dance of clouds? These fluffy formations aren’t just beautiful; they whisper secrets about the weather. By learning to identify different cloud types, you unlock a whole new level of weather awareness and appreciation. But where to begin? Enter the DIY Cloud Chart, your personalized guide to deciphering the sky’s messages!

Building a cloud chart is an exciting way to deepen your understanding of weather patterns and learn to identify various cloud formations. Whether you’re a weather enthusiast, a student, or simply curious about the skies above, this step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of creating your own cloud chart. By observing and identifying different cloud types, you’ll gain valuable insights into the ever-changing dynamics of the atmosphere.

Cloud Chart DIY
Cloud Chart DIY

Table of Contents


  • Cardboard or poster board: This will be your chart base.
  • White paper or fabric: Creates a clean background for your cloud drawings.
  • Colored pencils, markers, or paints: Bring your clouds to life with vibrant colors.
  • Scissors: For cutting out cloud shapes.
  • Glue stick or tape: To adhere clouds to the chart.
  • Internet access (optional): Research different cloud types and their characteristics.

** If you don’t already have these at home, you can find some cheap ones here.


  1. Prepare your base: Cut the cardboard or poster board to your desired size. Cover it with white paper or fabric, creating a smooth surface.
  2. Cloud research time! Jump to the section below to discover the different cloud types. Familiarize yourself with their names, shapes, and weather implications.
  3. Sketchy clouds: Lightly sketch the outlines of various cloud types onto your white background. Start with common ones like cirrus, cumulus, stratus, and nimbus. Feel free to add more as you learn!
  4. Color your world: Let your creativity flow! Use colored pencils, markers, or paints to fill in your cloud sketches. Remember, each type has distinct color characteristics. For example, cirrus clouds are often wispy and white, while nimbus clouds appear grey and ominous.
  5. Labeling is key: Write the name of each cloud type next to its corresponding drawing. You can also include additional information like weather association, altitude, and fun facts.
  6. Cloud cutouts (optional): For a 3D effect, carefully cut out your cloud drawings and attach them to the background with glue or tape. This adds depth and makes your chart more interactive.
  7. Mount it proudly: Choose a sunny spot in your home or classroom to display your masterpiece. Now you can consult your cloud chart whenever you gaze at the sky, identifying different formations and predicting the weather like a pro!

Cloud Research Time (Step #2)

While your DIY Cloud Chart provides a blank canvas for discovery, truly understanding the sky’s messages requires knowing who the players are – the diverse cloud types! Let’s delve into their shapes, names, and weather implications, transforming you from a casual observer into a cloud connoisseur:

High Flyers: Soaring high in the atmosphere, these clouds often indicate fair weather ahead:

  • Cirrus: Thin, wispy, feathery streaks resembling brushed strokes across the sky. They usually signal fair weather, but their wispy trails can precede warm fronts.
  • Cirrocumulus: Tiny, rounded puffs arranged in ripples or patterns, like a miniature sea of clouds. Fair weather with high altitude winds is their forte.
  • Cirrostratus: A thin, sheet-like veil covering the entire sky, often creating a halo effect around the sun or moon. It can indicate approaching warm fronts and possible rain or snow later.

Mid-Level Marvels: Cruising in the middle altitudes, these clouds offer diverse weather clues:

  • Altocumulus: Patches of rounded white or grey puffs, sometimes resembling cotton balls. They often indicate fair weather, but can precede thunderstorms if arranged in rows.
  • Altostratus: A grey or blue-grey sheet covering most of the sky, sometimes with thin streaks or patches. It can signal drizzle, light rain, or snow, especially if thickening.

Lowdown Legends: Hugging the Earth’s surface, these clouds often pack a punch in terms of weather:

  • Stratus: A uniform grey sheet covering the entire sky, often low and misty. It signifies foggy, overcast conditions with light drizzle or drizzle possible.
  • Stratocumulus: Grey or white patches or rolls of lumpy clouds, often resembling a bumpy mattress. They typically bring fair weather, but can precede thunderstorms if arranged in lines.
  • Nimbostratus: A dark, grey sheet of cloud often merging with rain or falling snow, completely obscuring the sun. It brings continuous rain or snowfall, sometimes heavy.
  • Cumulus: Fluffy, white piles resembling cotton wool balls. They signify fair weather and sunshine, but can grow into towering cumulonimbus clouds if conditions change.

Cumulonimbus King: This towering giant deserves special mention:

  • Cumulonimbus: A massive, dark grey cloud with flat base and anvil-shaped top, often reaching impressive heights. It brings heavy rain, thunderstorms, hail, and even tornadoes, so seek shelter if you see one!

Remember: This is just a starting point. With practice and observation, you’ll learn to differentiate subtle variations within these types and connect them to specific weather patterns, becoming a true master of the sky!

Bonus Tips:

  • Observe the clouds throughout the day and note how they change. Update your chart with additional cloud types as you encounter them.
  • Take your cloud chart outside and compare it to the real sky. This will solidify your understanding of different formations.
  • Share your cloud chart with friends and family, encouraging them to join you in cloud observing!


  • This is a learning process, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t identify every cloud right away.
  • The more you observe and practice, the easier it will become to recognize different cloud types.
  • Have fun and enjoy exploring the fascinating world of clouds!


By building a cloud chart and actively observing and identifying different cloud formations, you’ll develop a keen eye for the ever-changing dynamics of the atmosphere. Whether you’re a budding meteorologist or simply curious about the skies above, this hands-on activity offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of weather observation. So, grab your materials, head outside, and start building your own cloud chart today!

So, there you have it! Your very own personalized cloud chart, a gateway to understanding the ever-changing canvas of the sky. With a little effort and curiosity, you’ll be deciphering the whispers of the wind and predicting weather patterns like a true cloud connoisseur. Remember, the sky’s the limit when it comes to learning and exploration!

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