Five years ago. One solid week of on and off rain. Our learners caught cabin fever. Petty arguments found themselves frequent visitors to play and learning time. My children and I needed outside time, desperately. When thunder and lightening pushed away, I announced it was time to find the raincoats.
Out we went!
There was much to learn in the puddles. Each learner carried a small fish net, sand bucket or shovel. They were off on an adventure.
Catch. Look in the puddle when the water is still. Do you see insects? Do you see any tadpoles? If there are tadpoles, try to catch some in a container. Once home, place in a larger container or fish bowl and observe over the next week or ten days. What happens to the tadpoles? Draw pictures of each change. This is an amazing first lesson about life cycles.
Jump. Who doesn't love to jump in puddles? Puddle jumping allows little learners to learn about the properties of water. If the weather is particularly rainy or cold, a raincoat will help keep little learner warm during his or her discoveries. Experiment with stomping. How does the force of stomping effect water displacement? These experiences build physical skills while placing important files in the brain for later science learning.
Listen. Listen to the rain drops hit the water. Listen to the rain patter on the house roof. How does the sound of rain change? Once inside, make a rain stick. Find a paper roll. Cover one end with wax paper. Measure (another great skill for littles) 1/4 cup of rice. Pour into the tube. Cover the other end to keep rice contained. Decorate. Shake. Try to replicated the sound of rain. While making music, chant Rain, Rain, Go Away or sing The Eensy Weensy Spider. Differentiating sound, replicating sound, and moving to music are important to auditory and physical development.
Measure. Take measuring cups and spoons out to the puddle. Experiment with measuring. How many 1/2 cups can be poured into 1 cup? How many tablespoons can fit in a 1/4 cup? If you have a balance scale, compare the weight of 1 cup of water to 1 cup of mud. Compare 1 cup of wet leaves to 1 cup of broken sticks. Measuring and comparing are important math skills for little learners.
Sink and Float. Collect objects. One by one, choose an object and guess whether the object will sink or float. If the object sinks, place it on one pile. If it floats, place it on another. This is a great activity for children to experiment with making predictions.
Write. Use a stick to write numbers, letters, or words in soft mud surrounding the puddle. For littlest learners, begin with writing the first letter of the child's first name. From the first letter, move to the whole name.
Count objects. Are there object floating on the puddle's surface? Are there objects around the puddle? Count objects. Are there more objects in the puddle or on the edge?
Evaporate. After rain, puddles disappear. However, evaporation happens at different rates. Be sure to go back outside to check on the puddles. Are they still there? How are they different each time you return.
Read. Once inside, place wet clothes in the laundry and redress in dry. Choose a few rainy read-alouds while sipping on hot chocolate.
Some of our favorite rainy reads have been:
- From Tadpole to Frog, Wendy Pfeffer (one of three books available in the Math Adventures Math and Science Combo Kit)
- Frogs, Gail Gibbons
- Why Frogs are Wet, Judy Hawes
- Ducks Don't Get Wet, Augusta Goldin
- Peter Spier's Rain, Peter Spiers
- Weather Words and What They Mean, Gail Gibbons
- Down Comes the Rain, Franklyn M. Branley and James Graham Hale
- Clouds, Ann Rockwell
- Feel the Winds, Arthur Dorros
- Flash, Crash, Rumble, Roll, Franklyn M. Branley
- Weather Forecasting, Gail Gibbons
- Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean, Arthur Dorros
As long as it is safe to go outside, rainy, puddle-filled days can provide memorable learning moments.
It's intentional, real, and relational. And, it matters!
Want to learn more? This Psychology Today article offers further explanation about what really happens when little learners play in the rain. Fascinating!