Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Catching and Plotting Rainfall

If you're on Pinterest, you've seen this amazing rain gauge project. The simplicity, short material list, and learning opportunity have made it a favorite among kids and parents for years - my son and I included.

To make it you'll need a clear plastic bottle (like a 2-liter soda bottle) or a large water bottle. We used a Smart Water bottle. Remove the label. Have a ruler, scissors, and a permanent fine-tip marker handy.

Cut the top of the bottle off with a knife or scissors; young children should leave this up to grown-ups to do. Now align a ruler so the end of the ruler is at the bottom of the bottle and make small marks with the marker up the side of the bottle where the inches or centimeter lines are.

Now take the top of the bottle and place the spout upside down inside the bottle. With a little pressure, it will fit snugly.

Head outside and find the ideal spot to place your rain gauge (away from trees, etc.). Dig a shallow hole and secure the bottle inside it.

Now wait … and wait … and wait. Apparently making a rain gauge was just what we needed to chase away the stormy skies. While this spring has been extremely wet (parts of our city were sandbagging two weeks ago as the river threatened to exceed its banks), since my son made his rain gauge, not a drop has fallen. (What's that they say about the best laid plans?)

When it does, though, he'll be ready with this Daily Rain Record.

Each day, he'll plot the amount our rain gauge catches by drawing a dot on the line. Then he'll check all the boxes that apply to the type of rainfall (e.g. mist, downpour, shower).

Download a PDF of this Daily Rain Record free here.

When he has seven days of data, he'll draw lines between the dots, total the rainfall, and find the average by dividing the total by seven.

You didn't think I was just going to make this a science lesson did you? (he he) I just had to sneak a little math in.

Looking for a great book to read to pair with this activity? We read Elizabeth Miles' Watching the Weather: Rain. It covered why we need rain, helped us review the water cycle, and explained drought, floods, and acid rain - all in terms a soon-to-be third grader could understand.


  1. I LOVE this!!!! Help me remember til the measurement week of Math Monday next fall! ;) Pinning in the meantime! :)

  2. Going to share this one with my son's teacher who is looping to 3rd with her class from last year!
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. This is fabulous!! I had to laugh when you said making this chased away the rain--it hasn't rained here for almost a whole week...maybe if we make one it can call the rain back, lol! Thanks so much for sharing this at Teach Me Tuesday at Preschool Powol Packets!!