This easy tornado in a bottle activity below is pretty exciting for young kids!  Introduce simple concepts about the weather with hands-on learning about tornadoes that is safe! Bonus, rain cloud activity included too!


weather science experiments indoors activity


Why Science?

My son loves our science experiments. He is a high energy, sensory seeking little boy who enjoys highly stimulating activities. Science experiments provide just the right amount of everything for him to become fully engage and interactive with what we are doing together.

We have been enjoying two books lately. Otis and the Tornado by Loren Long and The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature by Stan & Jan Berenstain which were both birthday presents. Both books talk about tornados and I thought it would be neat to show Liam how a tornado is formed and what happens when there is a tornado.

The Berenstain Bears keep it simple by calling it a big wind that lifts objects off the ground as opposed to lesser strength winds like breezes. I am pretty sure talking about a vortex is out of the question. Also since we were talking about things that happen during a storm, I thought about showing Liam how it rains from clouds.

tornado and rain cloud books



  • 2 x 1 liter bottles (we drank a lot of seltzer today)
  • metal washer that fits closely to the top of the bottle
  • duct tape (we used flex fix tape)
  • glitter (cause it’s cool and we called it debris)
  • some of our bats from a package of table scatter (optional)
tornado materials

Set Up:

STEP 1: Fill one bottle almost to the top and add the glitter and bats.

STEP 2: Place washer on top and then put the second bottle’s opening on top of the washer. Seal tightly with the tape (several layers) so it doesn’t bend.

tornado set up

STEP 3: Turn the bottle over so the water is on the top and get a good swirling motion going to create the vortex.

A vortex is created when the rotating liquids form a spiral around a center line and the liquid falls through thanks to gravity forming a continuous vortex. Maybe you don’t need to go into many details or maybe you do!

However, you should see the tornado start to form and the hole in the middle! Pretty cool. You can do it over and over again and point out little facts each time. This will get repeated many times!

tornado in motion
tornado free play


How does it rain? Basically the clouds get heavy with big droplets of water and then they fall to Earth and it is called rain. Preschool version with a child to excited to see shaving cream.


  • Large jar or container
  • Shaving cream
  • food coloring


We used a large vase with a good sized opening. I thought it would be fun to drop pumpkins in so that it looked like it was raining on a pumpkin patch.

Then we squirted a big, puffy blob of shaving cream on top to represent a full cloud.

tornado rain cloud setup

Next he squirted the food coloring on top and we watched it eventually fall through our shaving cream cloud to make rain. The more he added the quicker it fell. Good for showing the difference between a drizzle and a down pour.

We used our whole bottle of blue food coloring until we had a real storm brewing over our pumpkins. The we watched and examined the vase!

tornado & rain cloud adding blue
tornado & rain cloud examining

Extend The Fun

We made shaving cream clouds. I set out some blue construction paper and let him make plops and glops on the paper and swirl it all around.

This gave us an opportunity to talk about what we had just done. He also did a bit of drawing with his finger in the clouds and even wrote his name.

tornado & rain cloud painting



Click on the image below or on the link for more fun science activities for young kids!

Preschool science experiments and activities that last well into kindergarten science and early elementary science for kids ages 3-9. Classic science activities that kids love and you will find easy and inexpensive to set up. Simple science information to share with young kids sparks curiosity every time you repeat an experiment.


  1. Thank you Tracey! We had so much fun with it. My son loves science! I appreciate all the sharing. Come share on my facebook page anytime!

  2. Weather can be hard to explain to preschoolers, but both these ideas give a great visual for learning about rain clouds and tornados. Awesome one, Sarah!

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