Science Activity: Learn About Clouds and Rain

Kids can create their own stormy weather -- and play with shaving cream -- doing this simple science experiment.

Make it Rain!

child doing science experiment Photograph by Julie Bidwell

How It's Done:

  1. In a small glass, mix 3 tablespoons of water with 10 drops of food coloring.
  2. Fill a large glass with water, then add 1 to 3 inches of plain foam shaving cream (the thicker the layer, the longer the experiment lasts). Smooth the top with a spoon.
  3. Transfer the colored water drop by drop: dip a straw into the liquid, place a finger over the top end, and lift the straw out. Hold the straw over the shaving cream and lift your finger to deposit the colored water.
  4. Continue adding drops (anywhere from 50 to 100 or so) until "rain" falls beneath the "cloud."

    What's Happening:

    When a cloud (which is made of tiny drops of water) accumulates too many drops, it releases the excess moisture in the form of rain. The same thing happens to the shaving cream; at a certain point, it can't absorb another drop. That's when gravity steps in, pulling the colored water through the foam to create a downpour below.

    The Skills It Builds: lab techniques, fine motor control, earth science

    Did you know? This experiment lets kids practice pipetting, a laboratory technique for transferring liquids drop by drop. A scientist would use a glass tube (called a pipette). We used a plastic straw.