Monsoon is a season of rains that everyone in the Indian subcontinent eagerly awaits. Monsoon is unique to our land and is not just like another generic season observed anywhere. That makes monsoons special and sacred to India. Our crops depend on the monsoon rain and so does the livelihood of millions of our countrymen.
What is Monsoon?
The word monsoon originates from Arabic word ‘mausem’ meaning season. The monsoon season is marked with heavy, consistent rains across the Indian territory. But technically, monsoon refers to the changing pattern of wind, which in turn brings rain along with it.
During summer season, which precedes Monsoon, the land mass gets heated thereby warming up the air above them. This hot air creates a low-pressure area that attracts winds from the oceans. This ocean wind is saturated with water vapours. When it climbs over the mountains and terrains, it cools thus bringing the characteristic monsoon rains with it.
India witnesses two kinds of monsoon:
South West Monsoon
South West Monsoon occurs between the months of June and September. During this time, monsoon winds travel from the seas to the Indian subcontinent following a south-westerly direction, bringing subsequent rainfall across Western Ghats and further up to Northern parts of India. These South-West winds are responsible for majority of rainfall in India.
North East Monsoon
This monsoon season is much less wet and brings far less rainfall than its South West counterpart. It brings rainfall during the months of October and December to the states of Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh, which depend on it for their paddy crop.
What Causes Rain?
Rain is part of bigger term called Precipitation, which in turn is a small piece of puzzle called Water Cycle. Any form of water that falls from atmosphere to the surface of Earth is called precipitation. Rain is one of those forms. Others include sleet, hail, snow and drizzle.
Rain is an essential part of water cycle, the process through which water travels between land and atmosphere. Rain is extremely important for the survival of life on our planet. Plants, animals and humans depend on it for the water we drink.
Rain is caused when clouds get too heavy to hold water in them any longer. Think of clouds as a cup that holds water. You can only keep adding water to the cup till it reaches the brim. After that, the water simply overflows from the cup. That’s what happens with clouds.
Clouds hold millions of tiny drops within it. But when they get too heavy or full with water drops and cannot hold any more (just like the cup), they rain.
This rain replenishes our land with fresh water and fills up our rivers, lakes and ponds. Without rain, our crops would not grow and animals, including us, would die.
Water Cycle and Rain Experiments for Kids
1. Rain Cloud in a Cup
This is one of the coolest rain experiments to do with kids. It clearly explains the concept of how clouds get heavy with water droplets and eventually rain. You will need:
- Shaving Foam
- Food colouring
Step 1: Mix food colouring with water in small bowl and keep aside.
Step 2: Take a cup and fill three-fourth of it with water.
Step 3: Top the cup with shaving foam, resembling a fluffy cloud.
Step 4: Using pipette, add coloured water drops to the shaving foam cloud.
Step 5: As you keep adding the water drops, the cloud will soon fill up and start to rain.
You can see this rain in the form of coloured water falling off the shaving foam cloud into the water below.
2. Monsoon Winds Experiment
This must try weather experiment for kids will help your children understand how monsoon winds move and how warm winds riseup to make way for cooler ocean winds.
You will need:
- A glass jar
- A small bottle
- Food colouring
Step 1: Take the glass jar, we used a cylindrical flower vase, and fill it with water. Add ice cubes to the water to make it chilled.
Step 2: Heat little water and add food colouring to it.
Step 3: Take the small bottle, an old essence oil bottle would work perfectly, and fill it half way with the warm coloured water from step 2.
Step 4: Place the small bottle in the glass jar.
What do you observe? Suddenly water from the bottle is magically drawn upwards against the force of gravity! With time, you will observe a layer of coloured water floating above the clear water.
The coloured water is warm while the water in the jar is chilled. This makes the coloured, warm water rise up and form a layer above the cold water. What is happening here is similar to how monsoon winds blow. The cool ocean winds displace warm air above the landmass. And as the winds saturate with water vapour and rise up, it rains.
3. Rain Gauge
Now, that your children have understood how monsoon winds move and how it rains through hands on experiments, it is time you get them to measure rainfall in their area by making their own Rain Gauge.
Rain Gauge is a simple instrument used by meteorologist to measure rainfall in an area.
4. Wind Vane
This weather experiment for kids lets them gauge the direction of wind. How cool is that!! With their own wind vanes, children can actually know which directions the monsoon winds are coming from.
5. Vanishing Water Experiment
This simple water cycle experiment for kids will make your kids understand how water literally vanishes from our lakes, ponds and rivers into thin air. It is a great starting point to teach your kids the concept of evaporation and water cycle. What you need is a plastic cup, marker, pebbles and lots of patience.
Step 1: Take handful of pebbles and add them to your empty cup. These will act as weights to your cup and prevent it from falling off.
Step 2: Fill your plastic cup half way through with water.
Step 3: Using marker pen, draw a line to indicate the water level in the cup
Step 4: Place the cup outside in a sunny spot
After few hours, check on the water level. Is it the same or has some water magically vanished from the cup? Make a marking again and keep checking on the water level through the day. By the end of bright sunny day, you might be left with much lesser water.
This process of vanishing water is called evaporation. By using sun’s heat, some of the water molecules gain enough energy to change their state from liquid to gas. So ideally, the water has not vanished but only changed states.
6. Magically Appearing Water
Once your kids have learned how to magically vanish water, they must also learn to magically bring it back a.k.a condensation. This simple water cycle experiment is real easy, does wonders to ignite curiosity in children and encourages to ask them questions about day to day science phenomenon they see around them.
All you need to do is place a soda can in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Take the can out and let it sit on a sunny spot on the kitchen table. Soon, water droplets will appear on the can and start rolling down. That’s condensation. Magical, right!
After children have had their fun learning through the above experiments, it is only prudent that they get some fun water play and engage in grossly fun water activities. Here are a few we absolutely adore:
All-Weather Water Experiments That Don’t Need Rain
Your kids will absolutely adore this weather experiment. It is super easy and takes less than five minutes to set up.
Thermometer is a device used to measure temperature. The weather shows tell you the daily and weekly forecastedtemperature of your city. Higher temperature signals warmer weather and lower temperature signals cooler weather.
Now, how cool would it be if your kids could make their own thermometer with most things lying around your house. This is a cool weather science project for kids and suitable for children six years and above.
3. Make Your Own Thunder
Rainy season is not just marked by rain but also thunderstorms. Once you have already done the Rain in a Jar experiment with your kids, it only makes sense to add a little thunder to take the learning and fun quotient up.
What you need is a paper bag, like a lunch bag, or even recyclable plastic bag would work just fine. Blow the bag with your mouth till it is full. Next, twist it around its mouth so as to seal it and prevent the air from leaking out. With your free hand, swiftly hit the bag hard.
You will get a loud clap akin to a thunder. This simple experiment demonstrates how a real thunder is made. When you hit the bag quickly, it forces the air inside the bag to escape quickly tearing the bag. This air rushes out from the torn bag making a thunder like sound. Actual thunders are made in a similar manner. As the lightening strikes, it heats up the air around it. This heated air expands quickly, thus, making sound of thunder.
4. DIY Windsock
Now, if you have younger kids, wind vane might be too much of awork for them. But that should not deprive them of the opportunity to learn about wind direction. So here is a simple Windsock activity that you can do with your kids. Windsocks are generally used at the airports and helipads to give pilots a quick idea about the wind direction and speed.
5. The Power of Wind
This is a cool experiment to do on a windy day that will certainly teach your kids the power of wind and how it transports millions of particles with it. What you will need is:
- Petroleum Jelly
Step 1: Take a cardboard and cut out a 5X5 square from it using scissors.
Step 2: Poke a hole at one end of the cardboard using pencil.
Step 3: Thread yarn through the hole and tie the ends of the yarn to make a loop for hanging the cardboard.
Step 4: Apply petroleum jelly on one side of the cardboard.
Hang the assembly outside in the open on a windy day for a few hours. You will notice that the various particles, even seeds and insects are sticking on the petroleum jelly side of the cardboard. They are carried by the wind. In fact wind is a great transporter and carries millions of particles around the globe.
6. How Far is the Thunderstorm
This is one of the most exciting weather experiments for kids on a rainy day. Imagine how cool it would be to know how far is the thunderstorm from your house!
Pick a nice spot by the window of your house and wait, with a stop clock, for lightening to strike. Once you see the flash, use your stop clock to count the seconds before you can hear the thunder. For every five seconds, thunder is a mile away.
To calculate how far is the thunderstorm, simply divide the seconds with five. The answer is the approximate distance the thunderstorm is away from your home. So cool!
No weather activities for kids can be complete without making a rainbow. Rainbows are beautiful and rare. But you don’t need to wait for perfect weather conditions to spot one. For this simple experiment all you need is an ordinary CD, water and a flashlight. And you get a perfect, beautiful rainbow in ten minutes.
8. Snowstorm in a Jar
Now wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could witness a snowstorm sitting cozily at home? This weather science experiment for kids is sure shot winner when it comes to building excitement in kids.
9. Frozen Water
This is one of our favourite water science activities for kids. It is super easy to do and answers the mystery of why lakes freeze faster than oceans and seas during cold winter months.
For this experiment you need:
- Two jars
Step 1: Fill both the jars with water. Mark one as lake and other as sea using marker.
Step 2: Add spoonful of slat to the jar marked as sea.
Step 3: Keep the jars in the freezer for 5-8 hours.
What do you observe after several hours? The water in the jar marked lake has frozen while the water in the jar marked sea has not. That’s exactly what happens in nature. Sea and ocean water is salty. Salt lowers down the freezing point of water. Hence, making water freeze at lower temperature than 0°C.
Lakes and ponds have freshwater and thus freeze at 0°C. Oceans and seas on the other hand need a much lower temperature to freeze owing to their salt content.
10. Spot the Warmest Room
This is another weather science experiment your kids will learn loads from. It is a very simple demonstration of how rooms within the same house varies in temperature. Let your children be little weather detectives and found out which room is the warmest (or coldest).
You will need:
- Ice cubes
Step 1: Take as many jars as the number of rooms you wish to test for. Example: If you have three rooms and want to find out which one is the warmest, you will need three jars. Begin with asking you child which room they feel is the warmest. Let them guess before you start the experiment.
Step 2: Add four ice cubes into each jar and place it next to the bed or on table in each room. Make sure, all the positions in rooms are relatively similar and none face direct sunlight.
Step 3: Observe the jars after 10-15 minutes. Mark the level of water using a marker.
Compare level of water in the jars. Now, can you answer which room is the warmest? Is it same as your guess?
After you and your kids have done a whole lot of weather science activities and Monsoon STEM activities, it is time for some silly fun. How about some funny weather jokes for kids? These jokes are a great way to build weather vocabulary and revisit what they have learned.
Weather Jokes for Kids
Q1: What did the tornado say to a race car?
A1: “Want to go for a spin?”
Q2: Which bow can’t be tied?
A2: A Rainbow
Q3: What did one lightning bolt say to another?
A3: “You are shocking!”
Q4: What did one raindrop say to another?
A4: “My plop is bigger than yours!”
Q5: How do hurricanes see?
A5: With one eye.
Q6: What happens when it rains cats and dogs?
A6: You have to be careful not to step on a poodle!
Q7: What did one hurricane say to another?
A7: “I have my eye on you!”
Q8: What did one thermometer say to another?
A8: “You make my temperature rise!”
Q9: What does a cloud wear under its raincoat?
Q10: What is a tornado’s favourite game?