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With spring comes unsettled weather: sun, clouds, wind, rain and rainbows. If you’re looking for activities to engage your child, read on for a number of weather-themed ideas.

As spring brings warmer weather, it’s the perfect time for you and your child to get outside. Turn a walk through your neighbourhood or to a nearby park into a scavenger hunt. As any child will tell you, no true scavenger hunt is complete without binoculars!

Cloud-watching binoculars

Source: Buggy Buddy

You’ll need:

  • 2 empty toilet paper rolls
  • blue paint
  • paintbrush
  • cotton balls
  • glue
  • string or yarn
  • single hole punch

What to do:

  1. Paint the toilet paper rolls with blue paint and let them dry.
  2. Glue cotton balls around each tube, then let the cotton clouds dry.
  3. Glue the cardboard tubes together. You may need to clip the tubes together to hold them in place as they dry.
  4. When the glue is dry, punch a hole in the outside edge of each tube.
  5. Cut a piece of string long enough to go around your child’s head.
  6. Thread one end of the string through one of the holes and tie it securely.
  7. Repeat with the other end of the string.

Now that your binoculars are ready, it’s time to go exploring! Perhaps you and your child have looked for interesting shapes and compared them to familiar objects, but did you know that different types of clouds help tell the weather?

Rainy days are a good time to learn about, well, rain. Has your child ever wondered where rain comes from? Look to Down Comes the Rain by Franklyn Branley. Ideal for children in Grades 2 to 4, it’s an informative look at the water cycle. It explains how water is recycled, how clouds are formed, and why rain and hail occur. The book also includes a number of easy science activities.

Here’s one you can try, using items you already have.

Rain in a Jar

Source: One Sharp Bunch

You’ll need:

  • shaving cream (avoid shaving gel since it doesn’t foam)
  • glass jar
  • blue food colouring
  • eye dropper
  • tray or cookie sheet to catch any mess
  • glass of water with a few drops of blue food colouring added

What to do:

  1. Set the glass jar on the tray or cookie sheet.
  2. Fill the jar with water: this is the “air” filling the sky. Be sure to leave enough space at the top for the shaving cream.
  3. Fill the remainder of the jar with shaving cream: this is your “cloud”.
  4. Using the eye dropper, start dripping the food colouring onto the shaving cream. Ask you child what he or she thinks will happen.
  5. Add a few drops of water from the glass of coloured water.
  6. Observe what happens. Do you see “rain” coming down?

Rain is also sensory: it engages our sense of sight and touch, as well as our sense of smell and hearing.

Have you ever wondered about the smell of rain? Has your child ever asked you about it? There’s actually a name for it: petrichor (pronounced PEH-trih-core). This smell, which can be sweet or earthy, is produced when rain falls on dry soil. Certain plants absorb the rain and give off an oil during dry periods. Clay-based soils and rocks absorb this oil. Then, when it rains again, the oil is released into the air, along with bacteria from wet soil. This is what you smell when it rains.

Rain also produces sound, something you and your child can reproduce using common materials.

Rainbow in a bag

Source: Powerful Mothering

After the rain come rainbows—and another opportunity for a sensory activity with your child.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • large Ziploc bags
  • cardstock
  • tape

What to do:

  1. Combine the flour, water and salt in a pot and whisk them over low heat until a smooth paste forms. Be careful that the mixture is neither too watery nor too thick.
  2. Scoop a tablespoon or so of the mixture into seven different bowls, one for each colour of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and purple.
  3. Add food colouring to each bowl to achieve the desired colour.
  4. Trim the cardstock to fit into each Ziploc bag.
  5. Add a teaspoon of “paint” into the bag, separating the plastic from the cardstock with your fingers to avoid making a mess.
  6. Press down on the plastic from the outside of the bag to ease the paint off the spoon.
  7. Repeat for each of the seven colours. You should end up with a blob of each colour inside each Ziploc bag.
  8. Once all the colours are lined up inside the Ziploc bag, close the bag and fold the top over.
  9. Tape the top of the bag down. Use a tape that will keep the bag in place but that can easily be removed.
  10. Invite your child to play! Have him or her create mess-free rainbows by pushing the paint across the cardstock in the bag. Watch this video (YouTube; 1:02) if you’re not yet convinced how much fun this will be!

If you have an older child fascinated by the rain jar activity and rainbows, you’ll love this next activity.

Rainbow jar

Source: Playdough Potato

What you’ll need:

  • large glass jar (a large, clear plastic container will also work)
  • honey
  • light corn syrup
  • blue or green dish soap
  • olive oil
  • rubbing alcohol
  • water
  • food colouring
  • eye dropper

What to do:

When pouring liquids into the jar, be sure to avoid having it touch the sides.

  1. Pour a layer of honey into the jar.
  2. Add food colouring to the corn syrup to make it purple, then pour a layer into the jar.
  3. Add the dish soap.
  4. Add food colouring to the water. If you’re using green dish detergent, dye the water blue. If using blue detergent, dye the water green.
  5. Pour the coloured water into the jar.
  6. Pour a thick layer of olive oil into the centre of the jar.
  7. Add a bit of red food colouring to the rubbing alcohol.
  8. Using the eye dropper, add the coloured rubbing alcohol around the sides of the jar. Be careful not to break through the layer of olive oil.
  9. Voilà! Being careful not to shake the jar or container, carefully hold it up to the light to admire your rainbow in a jar.

If you have an older child, explain how raindrops act like small prisms to break sunlight into various colours. This video (YouTube; 2:44) can help you explain how a prism works to make rainbow colours. This short clip also includes a simple box experiment to create a rainbow at home.

If you’re looking for even more weather-themed activities to engage your child on a rainy—or even a sunny—day, consider these resources:

Rainbow science activities for kids

100 spring crafts for kids

From all of us at Lift Legal, happy spring!

Mel Garbe

Mel founded Lift Legal with the goal of delivering cost effective legal services without sacrificing capability by effectively using modern tools to access the types of resources that larger law firms have access to. The result being that Lift Legal provides high level professional services at a greater value.

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