At 4:30AM my 3-yr-old comes padding into my bedroom, scared by the thunder and lightening. As he snuggles into bed next to me, he asks, “Mommy, why is it raining?” I’m sure something similar has happened to many of you! Here are a couple of fun and easy activities to help them understand.
LEARN SCIENCE VOCABULARY:
Precipitation – any form of rain, snow, hail, sleet that falls to earth from the clouds.
Water Vapor – water that is in a gaseous state – just like the steam we see rising off a boiling pot of water.
Saturated – when a cloud is so full of water droplets that it literally cannot hold any more.
Why does it rain? or Where does rain come from?
Clouds in the sky are made up of many, many tiny water droplets that have come together out of the water vapor in the air. When the clouds are super-saturated with water droplets, gravity pulls the excess water to the earth in the form of PRECIPITATION (a.k.a. rain)!
Here are 2 quick and fun activities to demonstrate rainfall:
- RAIN IN A JAR (this one is more scientifically accurate)
- Materials: kitchen sponge, a clear glass or jar, squirt bottle (a well-rinsed Sriracha bottle is what we used, which turned out to be my 3-yr-old’s favorite toy for the rest of the afternoon), food coloring and water.
- Put about 1-inch of water in the jar and set the damp sponge over the top of the glass or jar. The sponge represents the ‘cloud.’
- Fill the squirt bottle with water and a bit of blue food coloring. Let the kids squirt and soak the sponge until it is SATURATED with water. This represents the WATER VAPOR in the air condensing into the water droplets that make up clouds.
- Watch as the blue water saturates the sponge and drips down into the jar like rain!
- SHAVING CREAM STORM CLOUDS (This one has a bigger “wow” factor! I found it on PLAY. EXPLORE. LEARN. through Artsy Momma, along with a lot of other great weather activities.)
- Materials: shaving cream, water, clear bin with tall sides, and food coloring.
- Fill the bin with clear water about halfway up.
- Spray shaving cream all over the surface of the water so that the water is completely covered. The shaving cream should float on top and look like puffy white clouds.
- Now drop some food coloring (this represents the water vapor condensing in the clouds) onto the shaving cream and watch from below as it permeates through the ‘clouds’ into the water.
- (Beware – the messiness rating is high on this one! You will definitely want to be outside if your kids are anything like mine. It will probably turn into something like this: )