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Rain Cloud in a Jar – Science Experiment and ELL Strategies for Teachers

Student observing the rain cloud in a jar experiment.

Rainbow Rain! This lesson is designed to incorporate accommodations for ELL students while engaging the entire class in creating understanding of the water cycle. It includes a hands-on lab demonstration, vocabulary support, reading practice, extensions, and formative assessment. It is targeted to grades 3-5.

Instructional Strategies for ELL students (ELL):

  • Multisensory Learning: Visual supports for materials

  • Total Physical Response: Water Cycle Song with motions, charades game for procedures

  • Collaborative Learning: Lab groups

  • Contextualized Language Instruction: Water Cycle Song and reading passage

  • Formative assessment: Exit Ticket

Objective: Demonstrate how clouds produce rain as part of the water cycle.

Materials Needed:

  • Clear container (16 ounce minimum)

  • Measuring cups (1 cup, 1/2 cup)

  • 12 ounces of water

  • Food coloring

  • Shaving Cream

  • Timer (optional)


  • Measure 12 ounces of water into your clear container (1.5 cups).

  • Top the remainder of the container with shaving cream.

  • Slowly drip drops of food coloring onto the shaving cream.

  • Observe as the colors move through the shaving cream and into the water.


  1. Set up 2 containers. In one, place one drop of each color. In the other, place 7-10 drops of each color. Time how long it take for the color to move through the cloud. What do you notice? Why do you think there is a difference?

  2. Repeat the experiment with whip cream. Do you notice any difference in the speed? If so, why?

  3. Try mixing the food coloring with 1 tbsp of water before dropping it on your cloud. Does this change the speed? Why or why not?

Watch the video linked here to better understand the water cycle and key vocabulary terms! Read the article that follows for more information! Complete the Exit Ticket to wrap up the lesson.

Download the Science Behind the Water Cycle!

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