Firing children's imaginations with Eric Carle's "Little Cloud" (3-6 years)
Sometimes less is more and with this particular Eric Carle story, this does appear to be the case. The simplicity of "Little Cloud" is what makes space for children to use their imaginations and develop their potential for creative thinking (as they learn about clouds).
The clouds drift across the blue sky, all except one. Little Cloud is busy changing shape to become a sheep, an airplane, and even a clown with a funny hat before joining the other clouds as they perform their real function: making rain.
The story of Little Cloud creates opportunities for children to guess and speculate about what animals the cloud shapes might represent. Although the shapes may seem obvious to adults, children’s imaginations are marvellous and stimulate an amazing range of responses. Tapping into these imaginations and allowing children to talk about how they see things can produce some very creative and even surprising ideas. It also promotes engagement with the story on an emotional level.
In this YouTube clip featuring David Feinstein, Literacy Educator at the Eric Carle Picture Book Art Studio, we can see a range of storytelling techniques, including how to use the peritext effectively to introduce the story and how to blow in order to turn the pages and thereby change the shape of Little Cloud: simple and inspiring!
Suggestions for CLIL use
This story provides an excellent opportunity to go outside and cloud gaze, identify different types of clouds and possibly match them to different weather fronts.
Older children can make their own cloud viewers to take outside and observe clouds over a period of time and then draw clouds into a cloud book or weather journal as part of a daily routine.
Younger children can make individual clouds using cotton wool or white tissue paper and stick them onto pieces of blue paper. Collate all the clouds onto poster paper to make a class cloudscape wall display. Encourage children to talk about their cloud and where it should go on the cloudscape as this will help children to notice any patterns and think about where clouds are positioned in the sky.
Have children practise the names of different types of clouds by making a memory game. Give children pieces of card in the same size. Have them draw different types of clouds on one side and the names of the types of clouds on the other side. Once the cards are made, children can use them to test each other’s memory. Older children can also write down the characteristics of clouds with the names.
Younger children can create a wall display of painted clouds decorated with lightning and rain drops which have been cut out of card in advance, as in this easy-to-do example from the Thunderstorm Art Project.
Alternatively, children can work creatively with blue construction paper folded vertically down the middleand and white paint to create their own cloud shapes. This kind of activity is great for working with symmetry and speculating on what the shape might be. Scaffolding language with a sentence stem supports children’s self-expression: It looks like …, It reminds me of ..., etc.
For older children, a project whereby they identify clouds in the works of art of great artists develops an appreciation and awareness of how clouds are represented in Art. Using the resources from hundreds of museums in the Google Art Project, you can ask your learners to observe paintings in order to identify the type of clouds in the picture. Alternatively, the Centre of Science Education has a ready-made, downloadable PDF and Powerpoint to use in your Art class.
For very young learners, "Little Cloud" can also be used as an introduction to maths.
Cut out a series of white card clouds and a number of blue raindrops made from cardboard. Stick or write a number onto each cloud. The children then have to count the raindrops and place them onto the cloud so they match the number. As children develop in maths proficiency, the numbers can include simple additions or subtractions according to their age and ability.
As you can see,with the simple story of Little Cloud can spark our imagination and our learners' in many different ways as well as integrating Science, Art and Maths in one fell swoop!
Thanks Mr. Carle!
By Margie Marc
Bio: Margie has been working in the field of education for many years. She loves the positive change that can be provoked through learning, for both students and teachers. Margie currently works as a teacher and teacher trainer.