Written and compiled by Fred Jaicks
You can get kids involved with activities that include rain and rainbows without having to break out the umbrellas. All you need is a little bit of creativity!
A great activity for kids involving rain is an activity called “rain in a bag.” Designed for elementary school kids, it shouldn’t take more than half an hour whether it’s done at home or at school. You’ll need to gather lots of materials such as scissors, permanent magic markers, a clear, plastic reseal-able baggie that’s a typical sandwich size, and a white piece of paper that’s been cut to match the baggie.
The point of this activity is to show kids that they can make their own rain – indoors – and also teach them about things like evaporation and condensation. First, have the child or children draw a picture that includes a lake, a sun with a smiley face, a tree, and two clouds on it. To save time, you may draw a template and then just print out copies. Just remember that the picture just has to be horizontal, not vertical. Then, have the kids slide the paper into the plastic baggy, making sure
it’s flat. They need to trace the scene onto the baggy with magic marker with permanent ink, not washable ink! Remove the paper once done and then have the kids fill the baggy with water, simulating “rain” filling up the lake. Tape the baggy to a sunny window. Watch as the water inside evaporates, completing the rain cycle!
The next activity involves rainbows, not rain. Get the kids excited by telling them that they can “catch a rainbow!” Actually, it means that they will be able to create one using only three colors! First, they’ll need red, blue, and yellow food coloring as well as 1 cup of milk, a shallow bowl, and dish soap. First, they need to pour the cup of milk directly into the bowl. Then, ask them to add three red drops of food coloring to one edge of the bowl. 1/3 of the way away, have them add three blue drops of food coloring to that edge. Then, another 1/3 away from the blue drops, have them add three drops of yellow food coloring.
The next step involves squeezing a drop of dish soap in the center of the bowl. Make sure that they do not shake, jiggle, or even touch the bowl after this. Tell them to wait and observe. What should happen is that the milk should not absorb the dish soap at all. Instead, it should be floating on top, and as it spreads, it should be gathering up the food coloring that should be dripping slowly down the sides. When it’s doing this, it mixes the colors, creating new colors. The red and yellow make orange, the blue and red make purple, and the yellow and blue make green. At the end of the experiment, there should be a rainbow in the bowl!