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Are you looking for a simple and easy preschool STEM activity to do with your kids this spring? This rain cloud in a jar is a fun weather science experiment that gives young children a chance to explore clouds and rain in a hands-on and engaging way.
Preschool STEM is all about exploring scientific concepts safely and beginning to understand the scientific methods they’ll need to succeed later in life. In this shaving cream rain clouds activity, your child will get to explore a simplified model of rain clouds and why rain happens when clouds get filled with water.
Young science lovers will have so much fun investigating rain clouds. Best of all, this rain cloud science experiment only uses commonly three ingredients, doesn’t require a lot of preparations and kids can do this experiment all by themselves!
What is STEM?
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. Some people also include art and call it STEAM.
STEM is an approach to learning and development that integrates the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Through STEM, students develop key skills including (source):
- Critical analysis
- Independent thinking
- Digital literacy
Why is STEM Important?
STEM is important because it pervades every part of our lives. By exposing students to STEM and giving them opportunities to explore STEM-related concepts, they will develop a passion for it and hopefully pursue a job in a STEM field. STEM activities provide hands-on and minds-on lessons for the student. Making math and science both fun and interesting helps the student to do much more than just learn. (source)
How Do You Explain Rain Clouds to Preschoolers?
Shaving Cream Rain Clouds STEM Experiment
Recommended age: 2 years +
(Active supervision is required on all ideas shared)
- Clear glass cup or jar
- Shaving cream
- Food coloring
- Cold water
- Plastic spoon
How to Make a Rain Cloud in a Jar
1. Start by asking your child to pour cold water into the glass, leaving about an inch from the rim. You’ll want to leave some space for the shaving cream.
2. Carefully add a layer of shaving cream to the water. Be sure not to make it too thick or you’ll find you’re having to wait a long time for the magic to begin and that’s a bit boring.
If you put too much, you can scrape some off using a plastic spoon. Use the spoon to help even out the layer of shaving cream.
The shaving cream represents a cloud and the water is the atmosphere.
3. Drop several drops of food coloring onto the shaving cream. Check the water to see if you can see the food coloring seeping through the shaving cream. If you do not see this, add more food coloring until it goes through.
Once you see the food coloring go through the shaving cream, sit back and watch to see what happens!
The weight of the food coloring will start to push through the shaving cream and fall down through the water that’s in the glass! This will look just like streaks of rain falling.
For some children, the concept is possibly too complicated, which is absolutely fine, but if you conduct this experiment outdoors and explain it using simple and familiar language as you point to the clouds outside, they might just be able to make a connection between what is happening in the experiment to what they see in their own environment.
If your kids are still too young to understand, you can just focus on the colors and you can just say “Oooo… look at all the pretty colors!”.
When you’re finished, your kids will enjoy mixing all of the colors together and stir it all up in the sink into a colorful mess.
Even if your kids are too young for a learning session about the weather and don’t have the patience for watching the rain drop down, they can still have a lot of fun doing this experiment while getting their hands dirty!
How does the rain cloud in a jar work?
- The shaving cream represents clouds.
- The water represents the air.
- The colored water represents rain.
As the colored water saturates the “cloud”, it gets heavy and eventually is so heavy that it can no longer hold the water. It “rains” down into the jar – through the “air.” It is just like real rain falls through the air.
Here’s a video to help you learn more about clouds and rain:
Hopefully, you get a chance to have a go at this experiment with the little ones in your life. I’m convinced that they will enjoy it!