Weather is an amazing thing. From powerful tornadoes to puffy clouds on a sunny day, the weather has the power to awe the kid inside all of us. But did you ever think you could make weather yourself? We’ve gathered six fun science experiments that make weather in a jar to wow your kids. Start with the rain in a jar experiment, then make some snow, clouds, frost, tornadoes, even a rainbow in these weather jars. These engaging science experiments are perfect for a rainy day or school time fun. All of these amazing projects are a sneak peek into the Weather STEAM Explorers Ebook and Unit Study.
So many ways to experiment with weather!
This post is loaded with weather fun (6 easy to do projects!), so we’ve included a table of contents to help you navigate it. Pick one to do today and save some for a rainy day :) Or have an epic weather adventure and do all 6!
Rather have an easy to use printable set of instructions for these projects? Grab them and a sneak peek of the STEAM Explorers Weather Ebook by signing up with your email address below. They’ll be emailed to you shortly!
What is Weather?
We all know weather as what’s happening when we look outside. Sun, rain, snow, wind, hot, cold, etc. Weather is the state of our atmosphere, the envelope of gasses that surround the Earth. Weather is what is happening on a given day, like temperature, the amount of precipitation (water that falls from the clouds), and the air pressure around us. Climate on the other hand, is the long term average of weather in a given location.
Rain in a Jar
Making rain in a jar is the classic weather science experiment, so let’s kick things off with rain! For each project, we’ll list the supplies needed and the quick and easy steps to do the experiment. Plus, as always, we include a helpful description of the why behind the what, the science happening inside the jar.
Rain in a Jar Supplies
- 2 cups water
- Shaving cream
- Food coloring
How to Make Rain in a Jar
- Pour water into jar.
- Top water with a cloud of shaving cream.
- Drip a few drops of food coloring onto the top of the shaving cream. Do not mix.
- Watch the colorful rain fall!
What’s Happening in the Jar? The Science of Rain
This experiment works just the way that rain happens! Clouds are made of tiny water droplets. When the humidity gets high, these tiny water droplets group together and become too heavy to be suspended in the cloud. And then it starts raining!
In this experiment, the shaving cream is a cloud and the food coloring are like the water droplets. When you drip enough color onto the shaving cream, it gets too heavy and breaks through and starts “raining” into the water.
Frost in a Jar
This weather in a jar science experiment gets frosty cold with just some common kitchen items.
Frost in a Jar Supplies
- 2 tablespoons salt
How to Make Frost in a Jar
- Fill jar with ice and sprinkle salt on top.
- Let sit for five minutes or until frost appears on glass.
What’s Happening in the Jar? The Science of Frost
Ever walked outside to find your grass glistening or a thin sheet of soft ice on your car windshield? This is frost. It forms when water vapor in the air is above the freezing point and then touches a surface that is below the freezing point like the ground or your car.
In this experiment, the ice chills the surface of the glass jar to below the freezing point and the water vapor in the air freezes on the glass, forming frost.
Cloud in a Jar
Puffy white to stormy grey, clouds are an awe-inspiring weather activity. It’s fun to make them in a jar!
Cloud in a Jar Supplies
- Jar with lid
- 1 cup boiling water
- Food coloring (optional)
- Aerosol hair spray
- Ice cubes
How to Make a Cloud in a Jar
- Pour water into jar. Add food coloring if desired.
- Spray some hairspray into the jar and quickly close the lid.
- Place a few ice cubes on top of the lid.
- Watch the fog cloud form.
What’s Happening in the Jar? The Science of Clouds
A cloud is a grouping of tiny ice crystals or water droplets in the sky. Clouds form when warm, humid air rises and then cools, causing the water vapor to condense into liquid droplets. If it’s cold enough, the liquid droplets will solidify into ice crystals, too.
In this experiment, the hair spray seeds the water vapor and encourages it to condense into water droplets faster. What’s the difference between fog and other types of clouds? Fog forms at ground level while other clouds form above the ground.
Tornado in a Jar
Luckily, many of us won’t see a real tornado in person during our lifetime. It’s a lot safer to make extreme weather in a jar!
Tornado in a Jar Supplies
- Jar with lid
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon dish soap
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 drop of food coloring
How to Make a Tornado in a Jar
- Add water, vinegar, and food coloring to jar and mix until color is combined.
- Add dish soap and stir gently until combined.
- Close the jar tightly and swirl until you see the vortex.
What’s Happening in the Jar? The Science of Tornadoes
A tornado is a rotating column of air that forms between a cumulonimbus cloud and the ground. Inside a giant super cell thunderstorm cloud is a rotating vortex of air that pulls warm. humid air from the ground and pushes cold, dry air towards the ground. This creates a spinning funnel cloud that eventually is forced down to the ground and a tornado is born. Wind speeds inside tornadoes can reach well over 300 mph for the most destructive, but rare F5 category tornadoes.
In this experiment, you’ll create a spinning vortex of water inside the jar that is shaped just like a tornado.
Snow in a Jar
This weather in a jar activity is totally fun and even feels cold! Fake snow is perfect for hot summer days with no snow in sight.
Snow in a Jar Supplies
- Jar with lid
- ½ cup baking soda
- ½ cup menthol shaving cream
How to Make Snow in a Jar
- Add baking soda and shaving cream to a jar.
- Cover tightly and shake until combined. You will start to be able to see through the jar again (the shaving cream coated it before mixing) when it’s combined.
- Make a snowball! The snow will feel cold from the menthol shaving cream.
What’s Happening in the Jar? The Science of Snow
Ever wonder why snowballs stick together? Snow is simply a bunch of ice crystals. A lot of them! When you make a snowball, you push together the crystals with enough pressure, that some of the crystals melt. When you pull your hands away and release the pressure, the water refreezes and holds the ball together.
In this experiment, you’re not making actual ice crystal snow, but the shaving cream holds the baking soda together. And the menthol in the shaving cream gives you a cold sensation.
Rainbow in a Jar
Rainbows on a rainy day are a beautiful site but they’re even more fun when you can make them yourself! This weather in a jar experiment brings the ROYGBIV!
Rainbow in a Jar Supplies
- White paper
- Flashlight or bright sunny day
How to Make a Rainbow in a Jar
- Fill the jar with water.
- Place jar on white paper in a sunny spot or shine a flashlight on it.
- Adjust the angle of the light and jar until you can see the rainbow on the paper.
What’s Happening in the Jar? The Science of Rainbows
You may have the good fortune of seeing a rainbow when there’s both sun and rain in the forecast. When sunlight shines through droplets of rain, the light refracts (bends) back and then reflects inside the raindrop. Red is always on the top of a rainbow in the sky because red bends the least when refracted. Violet bends the most and creates the bottom of the arc. This is why you see the colors in an arc at different positions.
In this experiment, when you shine the flashlight on the glass of water (or the sun shines on it), the light refracts (bends) into the full spectrum of colors.
More Weather Activities for Kids
Love these weather in a jar experiments? They're a sneak peek into the fun-filled STEAM Explorers Weather Ebook! Kids will love creating weather in a jar, capturing the daily forecast in an art journal, and becoming a meteorologist with DIY tools. You'll love the helpful standards-based learning, printables, and tools that make STEAM exploration easy!