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Conditions, Weather, and Climate #1: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students “tune in” to their unit on weather.  Using a popular story, students collect weather words.  Collecting weather-related words requires the kids to be concentrated listeners!  You will be surprised at what they come up with and how inspired they are by Judi Barrett’s classic tale!

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



To “Tune In” to the new Unit of Inquiry on weather by listening for and capturing weather-related vocabulary words.

Suggested Time:

45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will complete a list of weather-related words to be used in later assignments.  Word list should be between 30 and 50 words.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Begin by showing books from the library or magazine articles about weather.  Some of my favorites include:

  • Water Dance by Thomas Locker
  • Rain Drop Splash by Alvin Tresselt
  • Sunny Day by Anna Milbourne
  • Sun and the Wind, Retold by Mairi Mackinnon
  • Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin

Weather has inspired writers, thinkers, and artists for centuries.  Today we’ll have a lot of fun with a very imaginative book on weather.

2. Main:

Read Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett.  Read slowly so that the kids can write down the weather words they hear.

Ask children to make a numbered list and write down every weather word they hear in the story.  Kids should think broadly.  For example, “mountain” could be considered a weather word because the presence or absence of mountains affects air flow and weather patterns.  Another example is the word “report.”  “Report” is often used in the term “weather report.”

Once the story has wrapped up, have the class work with you to make a comprehensive class list of weather words.  As kids provide words, children should tick-off the words on their own papers that have already been given.  The last time I taught this lesson the kids came up with 49 weather words from the story.

Refer to the word list in the student work samples (attached) for some of the words that kids should hear and record from the story.

3. Conclusion:

Ask children to review their notes, number their lists (if not already numbered) and contribute to a group discussion.  Compile a class list of all the weather words in the story.  Make sure the kids understand the words.  Clarify any unfamiliar words like “drizzle” or “drift.”

Thank the children for their work and attention.

Ask kids to tuck the word lists away with their Unit of Inquiry folder or Literacy folder (teacher’s choice).  They will be used in a follow-up lesson.

additional Resources:
  1. Clipboards, lined paper, and pencils.
  2. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett.
  3. White board, chalk board, flip chart, Promethean board or some way to capture the class’ thinking.
  4. Weather word list (see word list in Notes below).

Kids LOVE this lesson.  They are captivated by the imagery, and the story really invites their own imaginations to run wild.  And, it’s a simple lesson to prepare.  Hardly any preparation time is needed.

Be sure to use the weather vocabulary in a follow-up lesson or activity.  Here are two suggestions:

  1. Have the kids make a little handmade book and make up their own crazy weather story, following the pattern in Judi Barrett’s book. They can use their imaginations to write in their own favorite foods.
  2. Have the kids use the words to create their own illustrated dictionary of weather terms.
  3. Weather words from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett.:


  1. Air
  2. Ocean
  3. Mountains
  4. Desert
  5. Trees
  6. Sky
  7. Weather
  8. Rain
  9. Snow
  10. Blew / Blow
  11. Wind
  12. Storms
  13. Weather Report
  14. Weather Prediction
  15. Coming Down
  16. Shower
  17. Clouds
  18. Sprinkled
  19. Northwest
  20. Shift (wind shifted)
  21. East
  22. Drizzle
  23. “Becoming heavy”
  24. “With Occasional”
  25. “Periods of”
  26. Clearing
  27. West
  28. Fog
  29. Violent (“violent storms”)
  30. Hurricane
  31. Downpour
  32. Flooded
  33. Drifts
  34. Tornado
  35. Falling (“snow falling.”)
Key Terms:

Weather, Weather Patterns, Climate, Rain, Snow, Storms, Clouds, Cloudy

recommended texts:
  1. Water Dance by Thomas Locker
  2. Rain Drop Splash by Alvin Tresselt
  3. Sunny Day by Anna Milbourne
  4. Sun and the Wind, Retold by Mairi Mackinnon
  5. Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin
  6. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
student work samples:
Student Work Sample, Alex
Student Work Sample, Iulia

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