Outdoor Classroom: Rainy Days!


It's raining...and the outdoor classroom is wet! There are still some very unique activities for rainy days in the preschool outdoor classroom.
This is the only time to make those wonderful "rain paintings," and it passes by quickly, so don't miss the opportunity!

   Mural created by 4 yr olds using washable markers, coffee filters, colored tissue paper, and the rain!
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

The first step happens indoors. This mural was created by each child coloring in a large coffee filter with water proof markers. The  picture below shows how an individual coffee filter was colored with washable markers. Later, we used double sided scotch tape to attach the finished coffee filters to the larger mural paper. For individualized rain paintings, the coffee filter can be taped to an 8 x 12 piece of white art paper for each child. We did both in our class: we all contributed to the larger rain painting "group mural," and also each child made their own smaller rain painting.

   First, indoors: Use washable markers to color a design on a large coffee filter for your rain painting
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Adding bits of colored tissue paper can bring a beautiful design element to the piece because the tissue paper will "bleed" color throughout the project. 
We found that working on a stiff plastic table mat worked best for this project so that the rain painting could be easily carried outside to be rained upon and then carried inside for drying. 
For the larger mural, we worked on a long wooden plank on the floor indoors. Then there was the fun activity of carrying the plank outdoors to the rain. Many children helped carry the plank outdoors with lots of giggles along with taking very careful steps. We love singing songs about "Cooperation" when we work together to accomplish an important task!
It's best to take the rain paintings out during the light rain and usually a few minutes is plenty! The rain drops add a lovely spatter effect to the designs. I think everything about this project is very beautiful and such a happy way to spend a rainy day with kids.

Don't forget the rain gauge! Rainy days are the only times to collect and measure the amount of rainfall. This is an activity loaded with academic possibilities. It is fun for the children to check the level of the rain gauge each day and then to record it in the little weather notebook. Here we have both language and math skills developing in a fun and also relevant way!

   Simple acrylic rain gauge from the local hardware store that is easy for children to check each day.
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Here's a lovely little record-keeping book that I purchased in the Etsy store of Mamaroots. Here's the link:  rain notebook

Rain Notebook from Mamaroots on Etsy

These little weather recording books are very appealing to the children. "Mamaroots" offers both a lined and unlined page choice. I find the unlined pages work best for younger children since they can also draw the weather along with "writing" their names and the date. However, the wonderful advantage of the lined pages (especially for older kids) is that the children love to practice their writing on the line! 

In case you didn't get your rain gauge set up in time for the rainy weather, a simple bucket set out in the rain is also a great way to measure rainfall. We use a ruler to see how many inches of water have collected in the bucket after a rainy spell. It may not be the official measure according to the National Weather Service, but it is fun for little kids and a fabulous "practical math" lesson!

Quick & simple "rain gauge": just use a bucket & a ruler!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Nowadays, in our region, many schools with outdoor classrooms are setting up rain barrels. Here's a photo of a beautiful rain barrel that is available at Costco:

Photo of rain barrel available at Rain Barrels at Costco

Don't forget this very, very fun outdoor activity on a rainy day: put on those rain boots and jump in the puddles!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Why not turn it into a drama play activity with the whole firefighter outfit!

Firefighter Drama Play Outfits are great for outdoor play!
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Happy rainy days!
"Rain, rain
Stay a while
Kiss the trees 
And make them smile!" (to the tune of "Rain, Rain go away")

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