Updated: Mar 18
Get your students excited about rainy days at school with cozy indoor lesson activities with lots of active learning that makes wet weather fun!
When it comes to rainy days at school most teachers hate them. It means they miss out on their breaks, the students are disruptive and the class mood tends to drop as the level of rain increases. But, with the lesson outlined below, you can make wet weather days something you and your students look forward to and are excited about when they arrive with lots of active learning taking place too. In the next 5 minutes or so I will show you how.
Students will learn about or get to practice
1 Predicting Outcomes;
2 Volume and Capacity;
3 Using Surface Area;
4 Measuring Time;
5 Using Ordinal Numbers; and
6 Graphing Results (Either directly or using a scaled representation)
Your students will also probably be cheering, clapping and laughing a lot too but that is incidental to the actual learning that will be taking place.
For this lesson you will need to have a collection of containers standing by such as an egg cup, a couple of different shaped drinking cups and bottles, a jug, small bucket and a yoghurt pot. Pretty much anything that can hold water and will stand up in the rain.
You will also need:
• A timer of some sort (many white boards now have these as a built-in app)
• Maths recording book
• Graph paper
• Coloured pencils.
To start with students are shown the containers and are allowed to examine them to try to determine how much water they think each might hold. They must then draw the containers in the order in which they predict the containers will completely fill with water – labelling them 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. This is the best time in the lesson to revise the difference between volume (the amount a container currently holds) and capacity (the amount a container can hold if it is filled all the way to the top).
The containers are then placed in the rain and a timer is started. For older students as each container fills to capacity the elapsed time is recorded that it took for that container to fill. For younger students it is sufficient to just record short, medium or a long time for each of the containers to fill.
You will need sufficient rain as a light drizzle could see your maths lesson last all day but dripping school awnings, walkways and downpipes can be made use of to accelerate your fill times while you and your students stay nice and dry.
Once all of the containers are full, compare each student’s predictions with the results and have a class discussion to explore the difference between the containers.
For example the volume of the containers and the area of the container’s opening as a factor in the time it took for them to fill. It is quite possible that a drink bottle with a small lid size opening may fill more slowly than a bucket 5 times the size if the bucket is very wide at the top.
Older students can use their recorded times to graph in minutes how long it took for each container to fill. Younger students can simply record the position in which their containers filled – 1st, 2nd 3rd.
For students in Years 2 or 3 it may be appropriate to colour in 1 box for each minute it took a container to fill.
For students in Years 5 or 6 one box could be coloured for each 5 minutes of fill time with a 5th of a box used to represent 1 minute.
Alternatively, individual raindrops could be used to denote each minute of rain or 1 raindrop could be used to denote 4 minutes of rain and a ¼ raindrop drawn for each minute for quicker filling containers.
The beauty of this lesson is that it can be adapted to suit you students and their level of mathematical and recording skill. It can also be repeated many times throughout the year as a way of assessing student’s improvement in predicting and graphing. The same or new containers could be used to keep this activity interesting and engage students in the learning task.
This activity could also be used to determine how hard it is raining based on the speed at which the containers fill up. For younger students it would be ideal for them to record heavy and light raining days. For older students, if the volume of a container is known, they could calculate how much rain is falling during the testing period as the volume of the container ÷ the time taken to reach this level. e.g if a two Litre jug fills in 10 minutes it was raining at 12Litres per hour or 200mls per minute.
This is just one of many activities you could do with students to turn rainy days into an anticipated and fun event rather than a dark cloud. As an added bonus while all your students are busy watching the containers outside and cheering for their containers to fill first you might have a minute of 2 to eat your lunch or finish your cold cup of coffee. Please let me know via email or in the comments section below what you do with your students on wet weather days to keep them exciting and your students on-task in a fun way.