MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > The Science of Puddles

The Science of Puddles

Debra Hornfeldt, Como Park Elementary, St Paul MN Based on original activities from The Wonders of Wetlands pages 152-156 and Aquatic Project Wild pages 21-26.
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Children will look at their schoolyard and determine where a puddle will form after a heavy rain. They will map the school yard and draw chalk lines to demonstrate their predictions. After a rain children will check their predictions and begin to investigate a puddle over a period of time.

Learning Goals

Children will describe temporary wetlands.
Children will measure and record data related to temporary wetlands.
Children will predict where puddles will form and be able to give reasons for their predictions.
Children will observe and record animals and plants that use temporary wetlands.
Children will test and record the pH levels of a temporary wetland.

Context for Use

This lesson is written for a small group of deaf and hard of hearing students in a self-contained classroom 5 children. It could be adapted for general education classrooms by breaking into small groups. It requires the flexibility of adapting schedules to be able to go outside after a rain. Children should be familiar with pH and diameter prior to this investigation. The lesson requires 30 to 50 minutes, plus rechecks for new data for a number of days is suggested. No special equipment is needed except pH testing kits.

Subject: Chemistry:General Chemistry:Acids & Bases, Chemistry, Geoscience:Atmospheric Science:Climatology :Hydrologic cycle, Geoscience
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity, Field Activity
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-5)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Incorporating Societal Issues:Climate Change, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Atmospheric Science, Teach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:Teaching in the Field, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:K12

Description and Teaching Materials

Begin the lesson by reading one or more of the the books listed. These books can be read to, red alone, or read with depending on the reading level of the students. Books include but are not limited to: "Puddles" by Jonathan London, "The Piggy in the Puddle" by Charlotte Pomerantz, "The Puddle" by David McPhail, "The Puddle Pail" by Elisa Kleven and "Where Do Puddles Go?" by Fay Robinson.

Before a predicted rainstorm go outside and explore the schoolyard for the possible location of puddles. Draw a map of the schoolyard as a group indicating on the map where the predicted puddles will be. If the puddles will be on a blacktop surface children can outline with chalk the predicted size of the the puddle. Back in the classroom talk about the reasons why the students made those predictions, write them together as an interactive writing activity by sharing the pen to list the predictions and reasons for the predictions.
After a rain go out to the schoolyard with the map of puddles. The chalk drawings may be washed away but depending on the rain some lines may be left. The students will be able to recognize the spots better if they have previously outlined the area. Begin collecting data about the puddles. Children can work with a partner or in a small group to collect data. What signs of life, plant and animal can they find? What is the temperature of the puddle? What is the diameter of the puddle? What is the depth of the puddle? What is the pH of the puddle. How long does the puddle last? What happens to the puddle? Graph and record data in their science notebooks. There are many discussion threads and this activity can lead to more in depth study of wetlands and the water cycle. Check on the puddles for the next couple of days and gather the same data. Discuss with the students what happens to the water in a puddle. Lead the discussion so that the children realize the water evaporates, seeps into the ground and possibly flows to another water source, drain or stream. Discuss the pH of the puddle. Are all the puddles the same pH? Discuss other observations made and recorded by the students. As a closing group activity a puddle bulletin board can be made showing the life cycle of a puddle. Displaying graphs, maps and puddles.

This activity is adapted from "Aquatic Project Wild, Aquatic Education Activity Guide", copyright 1987 by the western Regional Environmental Education Council and "WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands an Educators Guide" Copyright 1995 by Environmental Concern Inc. and The Watercourse.

Teaching Notes and Tips

I have never done an activity like this. I like including all areas of the curriculum in my lessons and this does that. This is a simple idea with lots of ways to expand and lead into other areas of study. The most difficult part is the ability to drop everything to take advantage of a rainy day.


Children will log data collected at the puddle site. Children will be able to explain the data to the teacher with 75% accuracy based on individual interviews with each child.
Children will graph water temperature, diameter and depth, data and be able to explain the changes in data over time as measured by teacher observation.


Grade 3 Standard Scientific Inquiry, Benchmark The student will collect, organize, analyze and present data from a controlled experiment.

References and Resources