Earth Science Homeschooling science

Puddles – Puddles

Most children love to play in puddles. I did when I was young and my children love them too. But, right now there are NO puddles around the house. Since I want to continue my daughter’s learning at home, why not replicate a puddle? In today’s post, we are doing the Chillax Science of puddles with simple materials you most likely have at home. And of course, I am giving you tools to do the science talk and critical thinking with your children.

Lets start with the main question, Why do puddles happen?

Puddles happen, in general, because the percolation rate of the soil is less than the precipitation rate. That is, it happens when rain or snow is more than what the soil can absorb. That simple? Not really, there is more science! But for children, this explanation is sufficient. Lets model two cases to help our children get to that chillax science explanation on their own.

This is what you need:

  • glass pan (but use what you got)
  • kitchen sponges to cover the pan
  • construction paper or any piece of paper
  • tap water
  • aluminum foil (you can replace for wax paper)
  • tool for making holes (not pictured)

Note: For my pan size I needed 3 sponges. If you don’t have enough sponges, change to a smaller pan. 

Have materials ready? Do the talk, the science talk! Here are some suggestions to strike a science conversation.

  • Why do puddles happen?
  • Have you noticed when do we get puddles in our yard? Around the neighborhood? 
  • I wonder if at _______ house they also get puddles. Do you think they get puddles because of the same reasons we do?
  • What can scientists learn from “playing” with puddles? 
  • Do you think the science of puddles can help us be safe? Why?

Lets get to the hands-on experience! Here are two models you can do with your children to answer the main question, Why do puddles happen?

Case One: Evidence of Precipitation Rate

This case is the explanation I mentioned above. We can help children test this by following these steps:

  • Cover the glass pan with the sponges.  {Make sure pan is dry.}
  • Cover the sponges with black paper. 
  • Measure 1 cup of tap water.
  • Slowly pour the water (rain) on top of the paper.
  • Observe.
  • Measure 1 cup of tap water and pour again over the paper. This step will model a second day of rain.  
  • Observe.
  • Repeat this process until a puddle forms over the paper.

Here is a video on how to do Case One. You can try it again with a dry piece of paper on the bottom of the pan.

What happened when you poured the second cup of water over the paper? This is a great time to discuss with our children their observations and have them answer the main question

Case Two: Evidence of urbanization and puddles

This case is about how urbanization materials affect percolation. Specifically, I am referring to asphalt or cement roads. We can help children test with this setup. {Note: sponges should be dry.}

  • Cover the glass pan in sponges.
  • Place the aluminum foil (or wax paper) on top of the sponges.
  • Measure 1 cup of tap water.
  • Slowly pour the water (rain) on top of the sponges.
  • Observe.
  • Measure 1 cup of tap water and pour again over the sponges. This step will model a second day of rain.  
  • Observe.
  • Repeat this process until a puddle forms over the paper.

Modified scenario: weathered asphalt. Poke tiny holes in the aluminum foil and pour water.

My daughter’s rendition of the experiment!

More than a simulation, extend children’s learning.

  • Children can draw their observations
  • Children can write their observations
  • Children can draw and write their observations

Remember that main question? Lets help children answer it using the two cases. Here are some suggestions:

  • What did you notice in Case 1?
  • What did you notice in Case 2?
  • How were these cases different? How were they similar?
  • Have you noticed something similar in our neighborhood? Tell me more.
  • Do you think puddles are a problem? Why? 

As you may have noticed, I always like to end posts with book suggestions. Can you tell that I LOVE to read? So much learning can happen just through books! Here are two suggestions for two age brackets (younger and older). Click on the book cover to visit my affiliate Amazon store (at not additional cost to you.)

Young Readers 


Older Readers

This book is not about the science of puddles but it is a great fiction in which the author relied on puddles to develop the plot.

Reizelie is a former homeschool parent and a trained science and Montessori teacher with a passion for curriculum development. She loves learning and teaching and on her spare time she helps families create home environments that enrich a child's learning. Reizelie has a PhD in science education and has been working in the field of education for the last 19 years. She loves helping teachers, schools, and homeschooling families improve their science curriculum in ways that are authentic to scientists' work.

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