K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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  • Weather is the word-o: Using an integrated curriculum, this unit plan provides sixteen fun-filled weather activities to familiarize students with sun, rain, snow, and wind. Each of the activities will take approximately 30 minutes over a three week period.
  • Twisters in a jar: The class will discuss the motion, causes and effects of a tornado. The student will also be able to name the safety steps one should take when a tornado occurs.
  • Weather activities with Night of the Twisters: While reading the novel Night of the Twisters, students will complete activities related to weather concepts described in the story. Students will complete activities which explore the key concepts of cloud formation, air pressure, and local weather patterns.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • tell some facts about rain.
  • draw a picture describing rain.
  • make a rain gauge and measure rain with it.
  • create a picture and a story using KidPix.
  • describe rain using thinking maps.
  • use art to describe rain and its effects.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 weeks



  • Can it Really Rain Frogs? by Spencer Christian
  • Eyewitness Book—Weather by Brian Cosgrove
  • Tornadoes Can Make It Rain Crabs by Melvin Berger/Robert Roper
  • All Wet! All Wet! by James Skofield
  • Rain makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer
  • Rain Player by David Wisniewski
  • The Rains Are Coming by Sanna Stanley
  • Thunderstorm by Mary Szilagyi
  • Thundercake by Patricia Polacco
  • Weather by John Franklin

Materials Needed:

  • One-liter plastic soda bottle (one per group)
  • Heavy flowerpot
  • Waterproof tape
  • Two-liter plastic soda bottle
  • Salt
  • Clear dish detergent
  • Toothpick
  • Food Coloring
  • Small plastic houses
  • Glass jar
  • Four small tubs for water
  • One small sponge per student

Technology resources

  • KidPix or any other graphics computer program
  • Internet connection
  • VCR


  • An introduction to weather would be made prior to this lesson. The book, What Will The Weather Be Today?, can be read to create an interest in the topic. The rain section found in the Eyewitness Weather Book can also be read.
  • As a beginning activity, use a glass jar containing ice cubes. Holding the jar where the students can see the drops of water accumulating on the jar. Wipe the jar and wait another few minutes so that the students can see the drops appear again. Discuss and explain that the air around the jar is cooled by the ice cubes. The air around the jar condenses into water when it touches the jar. This is similar to the moisture in the clouds that is cooled and falls to the earth as rain.
  • Prior to this lesson, students will have begun a class weather graph, along with a graph in his/her weather journal. The students will keep track of the weather on a daily basis in this journal. Their pages will be mostly pictures. However, weather words will be around the room to assist the students in labeling at this stage.


  1. A small tub of water should be placed on each table with four to five students at a table. Every student needs a small sponge. Students are instructed to dip the sponge in the water to represent a cloud being filled with rain. Then the student squeezes the sponges, adding more or less of the water. A discussion of how this resembles rain follows. Ask: “How is this like the glass jar?” (in the introductory activity) “What happens when you add less water? More water?”
  2. Students will record ideas of rain in the daily journal.
  3. Using a blank circle map, write rain in the middle. Have students brainstorm what rain makes them think about. Fill in the blanks. Students can then be given a map of their own to fill out. See example. Students may use pictures or words, written on their own or dictated. A bubble map could instead be used putting rain in the middle bubble. Then put one describing word in each circle. See example. Encourage the students to use these words in their stories.
  4. Using page 8 in the book Weather by John Franklin, read and then have each group (same groups from above) make a rain gauge. Follow the directions on page 9. You may want to cut the bottles ahead of time. Parent volunteers can be helpful for this activity.
  5. Show the class a graph that you create on the computer. Explain that this will be used every day to measure the rain. The helpers for the day will be responsible for marking the graph. An example of the graph is shown in the book. Students in each group can measure the rain with a stick. This information will be added to the weather journal.
  6. During centers, students will use the KidPix program on the computer to create a picture of rain. They will also label or write a story about rain with this same program. Groups of two can work on the same computer taking turns. The other students will choose from the following other activities: reading from books about weather; some are listed above in the materials needed, making a rain picture in the art center with various materials (stickers, colored beads, small candies, torn or cut paper, paint, glitter, etc.), or acting out a rain story with puppets.
  7. Students will be given reasonable time to present and share projects with the class. Have student sign up for a time and a day on a list that you create. Students will be expected to show and tell what they know about rain.


Rubric Scale for Rainy Weather Lesson

  • 4—Student shows a clear understanding of the concept of rain with pictures and words, both written and oral.
  • 3—Student shows some understanding of the concept of rain with pictures and words, both oral and written.
  • 2—Student shows some understanding of rain with pictures only.
  • 1—Students show very little understanding of rain with pictures only.

Supplemental information

  • A Rainy Day, Mailbox, Pre–K, Mar–Apr 1988
  • School Days, Sept–Oct 1987
  • Eyewitness Weather Video
  • A poem, “April Rain Song” by Langston Hughes


This lesson could also be used with older students with only a few adaptations. The students in upper grades will be able to do more of the activities on their own.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Kindergarten

        • K.E.1 Understand change and observable patterns of weather that occur from day to day and throughout the year. K.E.1.1 Infer that change is something that happens to many things in the environment based on observations made using one or more of their senses....

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)


  • Goal 2: The learner will make observations and build an understanding of weather concepts.
    • Objective 2.02: Identify different weather features including:
      • Precipitation.
      • Wind.
      • Temperature.
      • Cloud cover