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What happens when it rains?

About this lesson

Students predict and investigate what happens to rain when it falls on different surfaces.

Year level: 1, 2

Theme: Water and the Natural Environment

Learning objectives

Students can:
  • model what happens when it rains
  • investigate water falling on a variety of surfaces
  • discuss observations.

Curriculum links


  • Observable changes occur in the sky and landscape ACSSU019
  • Science involves asking questions about, and describing changes in, objects and events ACSHE034
  • Pose and respond to questions, and make predictions about familiar objects and events ACSIS037


  • Engage in conversations and discussions, using active listening behaviours, showing interest, and contributing ideas, information and questions ACELY1656
  • Use interaction skills including turn-taking, recognising the contributions of others, speaking clearly and using appropriate volume and pace ACELY1788

Things you will need

Lesson description

If possible take students outside when it is raining for a rain walk! Use the Rainy day experiment activity sheet to help students explore what is happening to the rain.

Alternatively, discuss students’ experiences with rain, walking or driving in it, splashing in puddles, etc. Collect examples of vocabulary for a ‘rain words display’ or create a class book.

Student activity

  • Working in groups/pairs, students will use the What happens when it rains? activity sheet. Get them to answer the following:
    • Predict what might happen to water when it falls on different surfaces.
    • Do they think it will make a puddle or soak into the ground? Why? Why not? 
    • You can provide examples from within the school grounds of places they could test e.g. playground, under the trees, on the grass. Record students’ predictions on the interactive whiteboard.
  • Give each group a bottle of water and a disposable cup with holes in the bottom. Each member of the group will take turns pouring water from their bottles into the cups and observe what happens when the water falls (like rain) on different surfaces
  • Groups can choose which surfaces to test. Record the results on A4 paper divided into 2 columns with ‘surface tested’ and ‘what happened’ as titles. Some groups may need support and you could fill in the surface tested column for them before they begin.

Reflect & summarise

  • Ask each group to share their observations and compare them with the predictions made before they went outside.
  • Discuss how the activity simulates what happens during rain (soaks in or runs off).
  • Make a list of the places the rain soaked in and another where it ran off or stayed on the surface.


  • What do you think happens to the water that soaks into the ground?
  • Where does it go?

Optional: watch the following video.

The Life of Water video

Extension activities

Teacher background information

There are many different types of rain: mist, pouring rain, drizzle, deluge, light rain and heavy rain.

Water sources

Rainfall (precipitation) has decreased in WA’s South West over the past 30 years, and therefore reduced the volume of available water in our dams. Traditionally, Perth has relied heavily on dams as a water source, but today they account for just a third of our water supply.  

Water supply in the Perth metropolitan area comes from dams (surface water), under the ground (groundwater) and desalination. As rainfall and stream flows continue to decline, we’re increasing our use of climate independent sources, such as desalination, groundwater replenishment and other forms of water recycling, in order to secure our water supply for the future.

Climate change

The climate in Australia is changing, with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) predicting that some parts of Australia will become wetter and other parts (e.g. South-Western Australia) drier.

In drier climates such as ours, water evaporates more readily. We should not water the garden during the hottest part of the day, as the water evaporates instead of draining into the ground and reaching the roots of plants and, eventually, groundwater.

Water and the environment

It is important for students to understand that the natural environment also needs water. The water cycle is disrupted when, for example, we surface an area with bitumen instead of leaving it in its natural state and letting water soak into the ground. You should also emphasise the need to protect our water sources from pollution. E.g. protecting catchment areas by preventing chemicals and fertilisers from entering the drainage system.

Did you know?

Due to the continuous circulation of water in the water cycle, water is not used up – it simply goes round and round.

Key vocabulary

  • Clouds: A visible mass of water or ice particles suspended at a considerable altitude
  • Clay: A very fine-grained soil that turns sticky when water is added
  • Sand: A loose material consisting of grains of rock or coral
  • Rain: Drops of fresh water that fall as precipitation from clouds
  • Soft/ hard surfaces: The outermost level of the land or sea
  • Path: An established line of travel or access
  • Compact: Closely and firmly united or packed together
  • Infiltrate: The slow passage of a liquid through a filtering medium; "the percolation of rainwater through the soil"
  • Groundwater: Rainwater that has infiltrated the soil and travelled down to the water table without being used by the roots of plants