Cloud Experiments

Last weekend, we had a hailstorm.  And a spectacular one it was too.  This is the view from our window:

All three children had their interest well and truly captured by the noise, the way the hailstones bounced off the ground, the white floor.  L asked to go outside to “see what it felt like”, and instead of saying “no, you’ll get wet” (my automatic reaction), I decided to let him investigate.

He was really excited and full of questions, and N decided to join him out there despite her initial reservations.  They both had fun making patterns in the fallen hailstones with Daddy, whilst F and I watched from the window.

F really enjoyed watching too, as this strange new substance fell from the sky – she definitely noticed something different.

So, I decided to go with their enthusiasm and have a look at the weather this week.  We have so many books about the weather, and L was very pleased to be able to tell me all about clouds, and so we had a go at making some clouds to explore.

The first experiment showed us how clouds are formed.  We took an empty jam jar and backed it with dark paper so as to get a better view.  We half-filled the jar with hot water, warming the jar first to prevent it from cracking.  We put a few frozen peas in a freezer bag and placed them on top of the jar.  This provided the cold and warm air necessary for cloud formation.



Next, we lit a match and allowed it to burn for a couple of minutes, before blowing it out and placing it inside the jar.  This provided the dust particles (or “focal points”) in our mini-atmposphere.

This was one of those experiments that work perfectly and brilliantly every time.  Wisps of cloud were formed right away, and clearly visible.  More could be formed simply by dropping in another  match.  Perfect!  Unfortunately, the clouds can’t be seen clearly on the photos but they were so clear in real life.

warm water and a match in side the jar, ice on top.

watching the clouds form

And when we removed the ice, we watched the clouds escape.

The second cloud demonstration we did was to illustrate how clouds hold onto water, until it becomes too heavy to hold in the air, when it falls as rain.  We used a bigger, empty jar, with some kitchen paper tied across the opening.  We trimmed our kitchen paper with curved scissors to look like a cloud, but that part is optional!

Our rain jar

I then gave the children a jar of coloured water and a pipette.  They love playing with pipettes!  They dropped water onto the kitchen paper cloud, watching it hold onto the water until it became too heavy, and the “rain” fell in the jar.

L and N were delighted by this experiment and wanted to do it again and again.
And what was little F doing while we were making clouds?  why, she was joining in at her own level, playing with a tray of coloured water on the floor!

She didn’t like the cold water at all, but cheered up and played happily when the water was warm.  And later, big brother joined in to show her what happens when it rains.

This very soon developed into  “what floats and what doesn’t” water play.  It was lovely seeing oldest and youngest play together happily and I always love seeing them get different things out of the same activity – and self initiated too, what could be better? 🙂

I also thought that shaving foam play would provide some good sensory play related to our cloud activities – especially as watching food colouring drip through it slowly would be another good demonstration – next time!




4 thoughts on “Cloud Experiments

  1. Lucy

    Wow, we just tried that out and it’s great!! Jon’s going to use it in his Year 5 science lesson: he sets “Mission Impossibles” for them to do so this week’s will be to create a cloud in a jam jar. Thank you! xx

  2. Pingback: Fun and (Sensory) Games with Ice | Making our Memories

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