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288 Articles

Rain Cloud in a Jar

by Stem_ED

Making a rain cloud in a jar is a fun and easy way to teach children how it rains.  Kids will love the magical wow factor and YOU’LL love the easy prep!

Check out the simple step-by-step below and then join The Plato Pack so you can access DOZENS more jaw dropping (but easy prep!) science experiments kids will love.

Getting Ready

To make our rain cloud in a jar, we gathered a few simple items:

  • Food coloring
  • Water
  • A clear jar
  • Shaving cream
  • Plastic pipettes

First, we mixed a few drops of food coloring into some water and set it aside. This served as our “rain.”

My preschooler loved making rain so much that we ended up repeating this activity several times with blue, yellow, purple, red and green food coloring.

I filled our glass jar about 3/4 of the way full with cool water.

Once we made a fluffy “cloud” on top of the water using shaving cream, we were ready to get to the fun part: making it rain!

Rain Cloud in a Jar

I instructed my preschooler to suck up some of the colored water into her pipette and then gently squirt it on top of our shaving cream cloud. She quickly became a pro.

As she squirted more and more water onto the shaving cream, our cloud became heavier and heavier.

Within a few minutes, the first drops of colored rain made their way through the cloud and dropped into the water underneath.

There were cheers of excitement and lots of jumping up and down as we watched the colored water drop down through the clouds!

We continued to saturate the shaving cream clouds with water until they started to deflate and melt down the side of the jar.

My daughter had so much fun, we rinsed out the jar and started all over again with a new rain color!  We had a blast making differently colored rain clouds in a jar.

The Science Behind It

Clouds are formed when water vapor rises into the air and condenses onto tiny particles of dust. When billions of these droplets come together, a visible cloud forms.

Over time, the droplets and crystals that make up a cloud can attract more water to themselves.

When water droplets grow heavy enough, gravity pulls them down as raindrops.

Making a rain cloud in a jar is obviously a simplistic model of how it actually rains, but it gives young children a hands-on visual that is extremely valuable to their learning. Plus, it’s fun!

More Fun for Little Scientists

Save time piecing together science lessons! Hop over and join The Plato Pack so you can download DOZENS more easy-prep science experiments and science units in one spot.


The post Rain Cloud in a Jar appeared first on The Stem Laboratory.

Hundreds Chart Missing Numbers Cards

by Stem_ED

There are so many things that can be learned with a hundreds chart! They are a fabulous tool for learning counting, skip counting, problem solving and more.

These hundreds chart missing numbers challenge cards are a fun addition to your math lesson or activity plans. They’re are sure to give young mathematicians a brain exercise!

Getting Ready

To prepare the cards, I printed them out and laminated them. You may want to print on cardstock to keep them sturdy if you are using them in a classroom setting.

Then, I cut apart the cards on the solid black lines so that I had all 16 cards ready to go. After adding in some dry erase markers and kid socks for erasers (they work great and double as storage for the marker), these fun cards were ready to be added to our math center!

hundred chart missing numbers write and wipe 1

Hundreds Chart Missing Numbers Cards

Learning to visualize where numbers are on a hundreds chart is really helpful for kids. It can help them solve math problems and develop a strong understanding of how numbers relate to one another.

These missing numbers cards get kids thinking about patterns in numbers and provide the challenge of figuring out the puzzle when given only one number.

I played this game with a small group of kids who were ready. We kept a full hundreds chart next to us to check our work or for support if we needed it. (You can grab a free hundreds chart here.)

Our first card only had the number 5 on it. We knew the number below 5 would be 15, because we count by10’s when we go down the hundreds chart.

We then figured out that next to 15 would come 16 and 17.

Finally, the number above 17 would be 7, because we would go back 10. See how it gives us a great challenge for our brain?

hundred chart missing numbers write and wipe 2

We kept grabbing cards and thinking through the puzzles until they were complete.

Cleaning up was a cinch! We just wiped the cards clean and they were ready for another day!

Grab Your Download

Ready to give the hundreds chart missing numbers cards a try for yourself? Grab your copy by clicking the button below and then hop over and check out 15 more hundred chart activities we love!

15 brilliant ways to use a hundred chart. Lots of great math games teaching the numbers 1-120.

The post Hundreds Chart Missing Numbers Cards appeared first on The Stem Laboratory.

Community Helper Pattern Block Mats

by Stem_ED

Pattern block mats take on a whole new level of challenge and fun when kids need to roll each number with dice before they can cover it. These playful community helper-themed mats work on shapes, counting, number recognition and adding at the same time.

Download your free set below and then hop over and grab our popular Roll and Cover Pattern Block Mats in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Getting Ready

To prep the activity, I simply grabbed our box of pattern blocks (available on Amazon here) and dice (available here) and printed out the mats – the counting versions for Little Sister (age 3) and the adding pages for Middle Brother (age 5).

Roll and Cover Pattern Block Mats

The kids had been watching me prep so they were eager to jump in and get to work.

I showed Little Sister how to roll the die and count the number of dots that landed on top. Then, I helped her find the matching number on her sheet. I named the shape as we pointed to it and challenged her to find the matching pattern block to slide into place.


One roll after the next, she counted, searched and covered all of the spaces on the board to build her police car.


Meanwhile, across the table, Middle Brother was taking the game one step further. He rolled two dice together and added up their sum.

I loved that they could both be working on the same activity but at their just-right level.

When the kids completed their police cars and added up the total number of each shape, they were excited to tackle project #2: a fireman spraying out a fire with his hose!


Grab Your Download

Ready to play?! Click the blue download button below and then hop over and grab our popular Roll and Cover Pattern Block Mats in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Click here to subscribe

The post Community Helper Pattern Block Mats appeared first on The Stem Laboratory.