Friday, March 13, 2009
Every good children's activity book has a section on rain or what to do on rainy days. Sadly, sometimes the advice is for activities you can do inside until the rain stops. But why? Unless it's thundering or very cold, go outside! Parents often don't want to deal with the wet children who eventually come back into the house, so consider it YOUR responsibility to get kids to experience rain. Yes, that means you have to bring your rubber boots to school.
No matter what the weather, I always keep a few quick activities in my classroom cabinet in case of rain. The most fun is aluminum baking tins. I've had the same ones for several years now. They make a great sound, and different sizes make different tones. Even if you don't go outside, kids can hold the tins out the window or the door to make rain music. Our school's music teacher has talked about making a musical rain instrument out of food cans, so clearly that's another thing to try.
The second thing I keep is dark construction paper to make rain art. This only takes a few seconds, and the children can look at the design the rain made while watching it evaporate. Then they can do it again with the same paper.
The third thing I like to have on hand is something crystalline, like salt or sugar, that will partially dissolve in the rain. It's helpful to put some colored paper on a tray of some kind and use that to hold some crystals. In this picture I've use some colored rock salt that our co-director made a few years ago. We discovered that the large rock salt didn't really dissolve well, but the color did. The kids chose the background paper color. If I had known the rock salt wouldn't do much I might have chosen something lighter.
Speaking of paper and trays, put some paint or watercolor on some light paper, stick that on a tray, and plop it outside for a bit. You'll get some interesting effects.
But please, please, don't stay inside! Put on your boots and go splash in some puddles. Make mud pies. If it's warm enough and the kids have bathing suits, give yourselves some mud facials. Collect the rain and measure (by height, weight, or volume) how much has fallen. Try to track animals, birds, and insects in the rain. Where are they? What does the rain sound like on a raincoat hood? Is it different than the sound on a baking tin? What words can the kids use to describe the smell of the air while it's raining? What about afterwards? Can they tell the air is full of moisture? How? Wonder with them about the rain and you'll be looking forward to each and every rain shower.