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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Measuring Rainwater

Lesson Description:
In this activity students create their own rainwater gauges to measure how much rain their gardens receive each day.

Eco-fact: Freshwater makes up 2.5% of the earth’s water; however, most of it is frozen in glaciers or ice caps. The rest of the water remains under the ground, with only a small fraction remaining visible above ground.

  • Using a utility knife, carefully cut off the top of each the bottles. (Note: for safety, an adult should prepare the bottles).
  • Place one to two inches of small pebbles or stones in the bottom of the bottles to keep them from tipping over.
  • Turn the bottle top upside down. place it inside the bottle to act as a funnel.
  • Using a ruler and a permanent marker, mark the top of the pebbles as 0. Continue to mark measurements ¼ inch apart up the side of the bottle. make sure to label each mark’s measurement.
  • Fill the bottle with just enough water to cover the pebbles.
  • Place the bottle outside in an open area to measure how much rain falls on your garden.

  • Students can also use recycled plastic containers or jars (about 1 quart in size) and nestle them into the soil. They can proceed to measure rainfall each day with rulers.

  • In their nature journals, students can record and keep track of the amount of rainfall. They can also compare the rainfall from spring to fall.

Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Gardening

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Thumb Challenge

Time Needed:
30 minutes
Materials Needed:
  • 2-liter plastic bottles
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of pebbles or small stones
  • utility knife
  • ruler
  • permanent marker

School or Group:
Contact Email:

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