Objective: To teach kids aged 5-10 about tornados through a hands-on and visually engaging activity.
- Clear plastic or glass jar with a lid
- Dish soap (a small amount)
- Glitter or small beads (to represent debris)
- Food coloring (optional, for visual effect)
- Small plastic or foam figures (optional, for added fun)
- Permanent marker
- Safety goggles (for adult supervision)
Safety First: Ensure adult supervision throughout the activity. Safety goggles should be worn when handling the materials.
- Using a permanent marker, label the jar with the word “Tornado Jar” and draw a simple tornado symbol.
- Fill the jar about two-thirds full with water.
- Add a small amount of dish soap to the water. This will help create a vortex by reducing surface tension.
- Optionally, add a few drops of food coloring to the water to make the tornado more visible.
- Drop in some glitter or small beads to represent debris that can get caught up in a real tornado.
CREATE A TORNADO!
- Close the lid of the jar tightly.
- Hold the jar with both hands and gently swirl the water in a circular motion for a few seconds to create a water vortex.
OBSERVE AND EXPLAIN:
- As the water swirls, it forms a mini tornado inside the jar, just like how a tornado forms in the atmosphere.
- Explain to the kids that in a real tornado, the warm, moist air interacts with the cooler, drier air to create a rotating column of air.
- Discuss how tornadoes can vary in size and intensity.
- Talk about safety measures during tornadoes, such as seeking shelter in a sturdy building’s basement or interior room.
PLAY AND EXPERIMENT:
- Let the kids take turns swirling the jar to see the tornado formation.
- Encourage them to experiment with different swirling speeds and directions to observe how it affects the tornado’s formation.
EXTEND THE ACTIVITY
- For added fun, provide small plastic or foam figures and let the kids imagine scenarios where the figures get caught in the tornado.
This tornado in a jar activity engages kids’ senses and provides a simple yet effective way to introduce the concept of tornadoes. It offers both entertainment and education, making learning about severe weather phenomena an enjoyable experience.