Rain, sleet, or snow... learning about precipitation is much more fun when kids engage in hands-on activities. Whether it's splashing in a puddle after a spring rain shower or building a snowman in the backyard, kids love to interact with the world around them, and their curiosity about Mother Nature can lead to some extremely rewarding lessons.
Begninning With the Basics
Understanding precipitation begins with the water cycle. What better way to learn about how weather works than to create your own water cycle? It's easier than you might think. You just need a large plastic bowl, pitcher, sheet of clear plastic wrap, ceramic coffee mug, large rubber band and of course, some water. Put the bowl in a sunny place and use the pitcher of water to fill it up about one-quarter of the way. Gently place the mug in the middle of the bowl and cover the bowl with the plastic wrap. Make sure it is stretched tight and put the rubber band around the rim of the bowl to hold the plastic in place. Now just sit back and watch what happens. A mist will form that will eventually turn into water droplets. This activity covers the stages of the water cycle -- evaporation, condensation and precipitation -- in a simplified but still effective way.
Make a Rain Gauge
You can make a rain gauge out of items around the house. Use an ice pop stick, soup can and ruler. It is as simple as that. Place the can outside on a rainy day and let the fun begin. To make sure that your homemade rain gauge doesn't tip over, you can put the can into a bucket of sand. When the weather clears, use the ice pop stick to mark the depth of the rain in the can. Measure the mark with a ruler. You can make this activity even more educational by making simple predictions before actually measuring the rain.
Snow and Tell
Completing an art project on a cold winter afternoon is often entertaining, but it can also be a learning opportunity for your child. All you need are some pieces of white paper and a pair of kid-friendly scissors. Tell your child to fold the paper into a small square. Next, have him cut the paper in random shapes along the folds. When he opens the paper, he will find a truly special piece of art. Take this moment and explain that all snowflakes are just as unique as his and that no two are alike.
Read All About It
Snuggling up with a good book on a cold rainy day is a something that any child would love, so why not use that as a teachable moment? Books like "Rain" by Marion Dane Bauer and "White Snow, Bright Snow" by Alvin R. Tresselt provide vivid illustrations and easy-to-understand vocabulary about precipitation to share with your child.