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March 26, 2013

How Does it Rain?

Weather Science for Kids

How to make rain in a jar - hands on weather science for kids

This year we've had more rain than I ever remember getting.  We need the rain, so it has been a blessing.  My older two boys have asked me a few questions about the rain and what makes it rain.  I always do my best to explain in clear, simple words, and I'm always met with the same question, "But how does it rain?"  Clearly my explanations are not doing the trick.  I set up a simple science demo to demonstrate rain.

How to make rain in a jar - weather science for kids

How to Make Rain in a Jar

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  • glass jar (I used an empty jelly jar)
  • paper plate or bowl
  • ice
  • hot water
I boiled water in the tea kettle then added 2-3 inches to the glass jar, instructing JZ (5) and J-Bug (3) not to touch the jar.  We put the paper plate on top of the jar of hot water and let it sit for a few minutes.

After a few minutes JZ helped me get ice from the freezer.  The boys added the ice to the paper plate.

J-Bug liked putting the ice in one at a time, but JZ decided it would be quicker to just pour all the ice into the plate.

Then we observed.

How does this answer the question how does it rain?

The plate seals in the warm air in the jar.  Once the ice is added to the plate the cold temperature causes the moisture in the jar to condense and form water droplets. This is the same thing that happens in the atmosphere as warm, moist air rises and meets colder temperatures high in the atmosphere. Water vapor condenses and forms precipitation that falls to the Earth as rain, sleet, hail, or snow.  It was fun explaining the last part to JZ, because we actually had some hail a couple weeks ago!

How to make rain in a jar - weather science for kids

It was impossible for me to catch rain droplets on film, but I promise they were there.  This science experiment for kids was so easy.  The set up and clean up were quick, and my boys love watching the water drop down like rain.  Why not surprise your kids by demonstrating how it rains?  They will love it!

Please note my children were supervised the entire time.  The water in the jar is very hot.  

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Simple weather science for kids - making rain in a jar

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  1. Cool! My kiddo is fascinated by anything steam/water vapor-related, so this would be great.

  2. Cool! He looks so engaged in the picture! Great hands on experiement.

  3. Love this! Thanks so much for sharing. I pinned this to my weather unit ideas board to come back to later.

  4. This is interesting! I just found your blog via MFW blogroll on facebook. I added it to my rss feed.

  5. Very cool! I got asked why is now white the other day, I tell you that had me thinking for a while. Thanks for adding this to the outdoor play link up.

  6. This activity looks like so much fun!

  7. Good one! We did something like this on a hot day - sealed the jar up until it got hot enough for vapor. I like the idea of forcing it to happen more quickly with the ice on top.

  8. This is really need. My son would really enjoy this!

  9. Love this! My kids are going to have great fun with this next week! I'm featuring it this week on our April Showers Weekly Kid's Co-op :)

  10. Great idea...I love activities that require kids to be patient! Thanks for linking to the Outdoor Play Party.

  11. We did this last year, and it was pretty cool. Too slow moving for my girls (at the time at least), so we will definitely repeat at some point. Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

  12. Great experiment. I pinned it to go along with our Earth Science study next year.

  13. Brilliant, we loved this too, thanks so much for linking to Fun Sparks!

  14. I can't wait to do this with my son -- he looooves the lightning and thunder!!

  15. I love this idea, and I'll check your blog. The kids I'm working with have the same age that yours, what makes easier for me check if they will understand, like, approve... thanks for sharing!!

  16. great idea can't wait to do this with my class! thank you. god bless.

  17. Would this work with a ceramic or plastic plate/bowl?

    1. I would think so, but I haven't tried it myself.

  18. This was so cool! We used it as part of our water unit. I'm not sure if my 5 year old had more fun...or if it was ME. Ha ha!

  19. This is great, definitely going to try with my class, thank u


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