Basking in the Rain

By Maryam Saqib, Teacher  

Rainy days are great days, especially at Bing School. I enjoy these days, as wet days bring more than just rain jackets and galoshes. With a half-acre of outdoor space in each nursery classroom and freedom of movement for the children, the environment serves as a teacher in itself. When an atmospheric river was forecast to bring heavy rain in late January, the Center PM teachers were ready with the materials and tools to turn the stormy days into an exciting exploratory environment for the children. 

At the beginning of the week, teachers started discussions among the children about the potential for four consecutive days of rain, including overnight storms. I showed children a galvanized bucket that would be used to collect rainwater and marked the interior with levels one through six, with one being nearest the bottom. Then I asked the children to hypothesize—or guess—the level they believed the rain would reach by the end of the week. When they were finished, some children explained their reasoning:

Bucket with measurements

Second Line: 
“Because it only comes down a bit by bit each time it drops!”

Third line: 
“Because three is my favorite number!”

Fourth line: 
“Because it’s going to rain more … at night!”
“It will be lots of water!”
“I think four because it can’t get that high!”

Fifth line: 
“Because it is supposed to rain overnight!”
“It will rain so much, I think!”
“We are going to get a lot of rain!” 
“Because I’m turning 5!”

Sixth line (the rim of the bucket):
“Because it is going to rain and rain all night!”
“Because the rain is water! It’s supposed to rain a few days!”
“Because it is going to rain every day!”

The next day, Zain was the first child to check the water. Soon after he arrived, he said without prompting, “Teacher Maryam, I want to see the bucket!” At that point, the rainwater only reached the first line of the bucket! Zain was the only child who had made that guess and was excited that his prediction was correct that day. Through the week, the children often asked to see how much water accumulated and made comments about the level. The teachers emphasized that the hypotheses were only guesses, and the results did not mean anyone won or lost, but that we can only find answers to our questions through experimentation. 

The next day it rained during the class session. As it rained, the children and teachers noticed water dripping from the overhang of the shed near the sand area. Collaboratively, we brought an assortment of containers such as bowls and measuring cups from the sand area and placed them around the shed to catch the raindrops until the end of the day.

Catching raindrops

Children would leave their play in the grove and the sand area periodically to peek in the containers. We observed and compared how much rain was collected in all the containers by using vocabulary such as “more,” “less” and “equal.” We also asked each other questions such as, “Which container has the most rain?” and “Which container has the least rain?” Additionally, the teachers explained how to read the numbers on the measuring cups to decipher more precise measurements of the rain.

After snack time, the children noticed the containers were filling to the top. Subsequently, many children decided to pour all the rain into one large bucket. After Inou, Brandon, Mariana and Gwen poured the water into the big bucket, they held their hands under the drops to feel them as they trickled down, taking in the full sensory experience of the rain.

looking for worms

Rainy days are not only great days for water play but also for worm hunts. The teachers encouraged the children to lift up stumps and dig in the dirt to search for worms throughout the outdoors. Matias and Brandon meticulously searched for worms that were camouflaged within the dirt and tanbark. 

After the children discovered several worms, the teachers placed them in a large tray. The children then added soil, leaves, sticks, grass and tanbark to recreate homes for the worms.

examining worms on a tray

Groups of children flocked to the tray. Inou added a large stick to the worms’ home and called it “The Playground.” Children held the worms in their hands or used magnifying glasses to observe the details of their bodies. After staring at one of the worms for a few minutes, Iro loudly exclaimed, “I see the eyes of the worm!” Consequently, Iro’s comment spurred an organic discussion between the children regarding whether worms have eyes. 

When the children were not hunting for worms or observing the rain collection, freedom of movement allowed them to immerse themselves in full-body water play of their choice. In the sand area, children independently used shovels to dig rivers and large puddles, in which they happily jumped and splashed.

As the day wound down, Meena and Iro stood still beneath the heavy drops of rain dripping from the shed’s overhang. Together, they laughed and relished the sound and sensation of the drops gently falling on their heads. It was lovely to see the unusually stormy weather bring out such bold and joyous responses in the children. These moments show us how children appreciate the beauty and wonders of the natural world—moments where we are reminded how to bask in the rain.