Watch It Rain

The children will learn about the water cycle and where rain comes from.


Lesson Objective

The children will perform an activity to see how rain is produced, and learn about the water cycle.


What You'll Need

  • Clear plastic cups – 1 per child
  • Blue food coloring – 1 bottle
  • Water – 1 cup per child
  • Shaving cream – 2 cans
  • Chart paper
  • Markers

What To Do

Note: Be sure to use clean, clear cups so the children can easily view the experiment.

  1. Begin the lesson with a discussion about where rain comes from (see Did You Know?).
  2. When a child mentions clouds or rain, draw them on the chart paper.
  3. Draw arrows on the chart indicating the cycle of the water falling from the clouds and evaporating (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  4. Explain that the water goes back into the air and the cycle is repeated. This is called the “water cycle.”
  5. Tell the children they will perform an activity to observe how rain falls from a cloud once the cloud gets full of water.
  6. Fill a cup with water for each child.
  7. Explain to the children that shaving cream will be used as a cloud and blue food coloring is going to be the rain.
  8. Put shaving cream on the top of the water for a cloud.
  9. Explain that when a cloud gets full of water, it rains.
  10. Place several drops of blue food coloring on top of the “cloud”, and watch the blue raindrops come out of the cloud.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe what clouds look like.
  • Explain where the rain comes from.
  • Do you ever go outside when it is raining? What are some things you can do in the rain?
  • What happens to the water once it falls onto the ground?
  • Describe what we did to make it rain.
  • Explain what happens to the raindrops after it stops raining.
  • Tell me what makes the water evaporate.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Go outside on a sunny day and give the children water misters. Have them make rain on a surface and watch it to see where the rain goes.
  • Make a cloud-watching chart for your classroom. Chart what the clouds look like and record the weather daily. Discuss the types of clouds that are in the sky on a rainy day.
  • Try putting two colors of food coloring on the shaving cream. Does it change the color of the rain?

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Were children able to describe how the “rain” fell from the “cloud” in the activity?
  • Were children able to explain why rain falls from the clouds?
  • Were children able to describe the steps in the water cycle?


Did You Know?

Heat from the Sun causes water on the Earth to evaporate and rise into the sky. This water vapor is invisible as it rises into the sky. Since the air is much colder in the sky than it is on the ground, the water vapor cools and condenses, forming clouds. When the clouds get too full of water, the water falls back to the Earth in the form of rain, snow, sleet, or hail.

There is basically the same amount of water on Earth today as there has been since the beginning of time. Water keeps moving around in an endless cycle called the water cycle. About two-thirds of the Earth is covered with water. Of all that water, only about 3% is fresh water. The rest is all salt water. Using our fresh water wisely is very important. Some things you can do to help conserve water are turn off the tap while you are brushing your teeth, only run the dishwasher when it is full, and check that water is not dripping from the tap.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • rain – drops of water that form in the clouds and fall from the sky to the Earth.
  • water – the clear liquid that is in rain. People, plants, and animals drink water and need it in order to live.
  • cloud – a white or gray mass of small drops of water high in the sky above the Earth.
  • water cycle – the process by which water on the Earth evaporates, then condenses in the atmosphere, and then returns to Earth in the form of precipitation.
  • observe – to watch with care.
  • food coloring – something used to give color to food.

Lesson Tips

  • Blue food coloring will stain clothing; have the children wear smocks.
  • Shaving cream is a lot of fun to play with. When children are finished with the experiment, you can squirt a little shaving cream on the table in front of each child. Allow them to play with it, finger paint in it, and spread it over the table. It is easy to clean up and it cleans the tables too!


  • Down Comes the Rain by Franklyn M. Branley
  • Rain by Robert Kalan
  • Rain by Marion Dane Bauer
  • Splish! Splash! A Book About Rain by Josepha Sherman
  • In the Rain With Baby Duck by Amy Hest
  • Mushroom in the Rain by Mirra Ginsburg

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