Raindrop Reactions

Children will investigate properties of water droplets.


Lesson Objective

Children will investigate properties of water droplets on surfaces.


What You'll Need

  • Wax paper – one 12" × 12" piece per child
  • Pipettes – 1 per child
  • Straws – 1 per child
  • Spray bottles – 3
  • Food coloring
  • Aluminum foil – 12"× 12" piece per child
  • Paper towels – 1 per child

What To Do

  1. Choose a rainy day to watch the raindrops on a window. Discuss how the raindrops roll down the window.
  2. Ask the children what might happen to the raindrops on a different surface, such as the ground, a leaf, or the sidewalk.
  3. Tell the children they will be experimenting with water droplets on different surfaces.
  4. Distribute wax paper and pipettes to the children.
  5. Add a few drops of food coloring to the water in the spray bottle.
  6. Turn the spray bottle to the fine mist setting.
  7. Mist each piece of wax paper until it is covered with tiny droplets.
  8. Have the children share their observations about the water.
  9. Encourage the children to use the pipettes to move the water around on the wax paper (see Guiding Student Inquiry). Discuss what is happening.
  10. Give each child a straw to blow the water around on the wax paper. Have the children share their observations.
  11. Discuss how water resists being divided, and that water is attracted to itself; this is called cohesion (see Did You Know?).
  12. Repeat the activity using foil, then again using paper towels.
  13. Discuss how the liquids reacted differently on the different surfaces.
  14. Discuss how the water droplets moved along and stuck to some surfaces, such as the wax paper and foil; this is called adhesion (see Did You Know?).
  15. Discuss how the water droplets were sucked into the paper towel; this is called absorption (see Did You Know?).

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe what the water looks like when you move a drop along the wax paper.
  • Describe how you could make all of your droplets into one big drop.
  • Explain what might happen if two drops were placed very close together.
  • Describe how the water on the wax paper is different from the water on the foil/paper towel.
  • Tell me what happened to the wax paper/foil/paper towel.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Try this activity using different liquids such as slightly soapy water or vegetable oil in place of the plain water. Do the different liquids move differently?
  • Take the activity outside. Give children small mister bottles filled with water. Challenge the children to find a surface where the spray causes water droplets to form.
  • Draw a simple maze on a sheet of plain paper. Place the maze under the wax paper, and challenge the children to move a drop of water through the maze.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children describe what the water looked like when it moved around the wax paper?
  • Could children describe the water droplets as being attracted to each other?
  • Could children describe the difference in the movement of the water droplets on wax paper compared with on the foil/paper towel?
  • Could children tell that the wax paper and paper towel weakened from the water, but the foil held up?


Did You Know?

Raindrops are liquid water. Water in its liquid state will flow. Gravity causes water to flow downward. Water can be made to move upward if enough force is applied. Water is attracted to and clings to itself; this is called cohesion. As drops of water get closer together, they will merge to form a larger drop. Larger water drops resist being divided.

Water reacts differently on different surfaces. Water is attracted to some materials due to their composition. The attraction of water molecules to other materials is called adhesion. When water sticks to something porous like a paper towel, the molecules are pulled apart because they are being absorbed. 

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • droplet – a small drop, as of water.
  • attract – to cause something to want to be near.
  • resist – to keep away from something.
  • adhesion – the act of clinging to something.
  • cohesion – the act of sticking together.
  • absorption – the act of taking in liquid through a surface.

Lesson Tips

  • You may need to show the children how to squeeze the bulb end of the pipettes. Some children may have difficulty with the squeezing motion; assist them as needed.
  • The wax paper may become soggy after a time. Replace it as needed.


  • Raindrop, Plop! by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
  • Rain Drop Splash by Alvin Tresselt
  • Raindrops: A Shower of Colors by Chieu Anh Urban
  • Wet World by Norma Simon

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS