Just the other day my oldest son who’s almost six started asking a lot of questions about the weather. He especially was very interested in understanding why it rains. I thought it would be a lot easier and much more fun to show him than to just tell him. Making a rain cloud in a jar is a great hands-on activity for kids that gives a visual understanding to this basic earth science concept of how rain clouds form and why it rains.
LEARNING ABOUT THE RAIN CYCLE
Explaining the basis about clouds is quite simple; here are a few important parts to point out:
- Clouds form when water vapor rises into the air. Once billions of these droplets come together, a visible cloud forms.
- Over time, the droplets and crystals begin to grow heavy, so heavy that gravity pulls the droplets down as raindrops.
We enjoyed reading books, watching videos and even coloring in worksheets to really help the concept sink in. Recommended books include A Wild Ride on the Water Cycle by Anthony Yanez and Down Comes Rain by Franklin M. The Magic School Bus Water Cycle episode was informative and fun. We also enjoyed making the Water Cycle Circle by Kindergarten Mom.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- 1 Can of Shaving Cream
- Liquid Food Dye
- Clear Container (Plastic Cup or Glass Jar)
HOW IT WORKS
- Set all your supplies out, so you are ready to test out your experiment. The Rain Cloud experiment has potential to get messy, so be prepared. I made sure to put a towel down on the table first.
- Fill the cup/jar a little more than half way full of water. I like to put the water into a measuring cup so that my kids can do the pouring. (The water will represent the air.)
- Next, add shaving cream to the top of the water. I had my kids do this part too. (This will be the clouds.)
- Let the shaving cream settle for about a 30 seconds or so.
- Squeeze a few drops of liquid blue food dye on the top of the shaving cream in a few different spots. I have to be honest, I accidentally picked up gel food coloring. I simply fixed this by adding the coloring to a small amount of water and using a medicine dropper to drop it in. (The food dye will represent the water droplets.)
- The last part is the fun part! Sit back and watch the rain pour down. As your cloud fills up, the food coloring will fall down into the water creating a raining effect. My boys enjoyed this rain in a jar experiment so much that we repeated this activity a bunch of times using different colors: purple, orange, pink, etc.