Explore Clouds and Rain for Fine Motor Practice

This week I set up an invitation to explore clouds and rain with cotton balls and water, but added a dropper into the mix for added fine motor practice.

Explore Clouds and Rain for Fine Motor Practice. This science and sensory activity is a great way to develop fine motor skills!

The PLAYful Preschool theme for this week is weather. The team has a lot of great lessons planned for you, so make sure you check them all out below!

This science activity is very quick to set up, but the fun lasts for a long time! Evan didn’t want to stop playing with it. He kept asking me to add more water to the cup and more cotton balls to the strainer. Once I stopped adding water, he continued playing with the wet cotton balls as well.

The best part is that the entire time he was playing and exploring he was also learning science concepts and getting loads of fine motor practice!

Materials Needed to Explore Clouds and Rain

Cotton balls

Strainer/Steamer basket – I used my steamer basket because it fit the jar I wanted to use better



Blue food coloring (optional)

Materials needed to explore clouds and rain with cotton balls and water

Prep Needed to Explore Clouds and Rain

1. Place a strainer on top of a clear jar, bowl or vase.

2. Fill the strainer with cotton balls.

3. Fill a glass with water and add a few drops of blue food coloring, if you would like.

4. Place a dropper nearby.

Exploring Clouds and Rain for Fine Motor Practice

Have the child fill the dropper with water and then squirt the water on the cotton balls. Have them repeat this process until the clouds become so full of water that they start to drip. Eventually the water will start to rain down into the jar.

Drip water on cotton balls and watch it rain

As your child is doing this you can explain that this process is similar to that of clouds and rain. The clouds get so full of water that eventually the water starts to fall from the cloud and it rains.

Cotton balls get so full of water that they begin to drip and rain

After repeating this over and over again, Evan began squeezing the soaking wet cotton balls into the jar with his hands. Then he would soak all the cotton balls in water again and repeat.

Squeeze cotton balls into jar with hands

The use of the dropper was excellent fine motor practice for him. Squeezing the water out of the cotton balls with his hands was too.

I’m not sure he would have ever stopped doing this activity on his own accord. Eventually it was time to eat lunch and I had to convince him to stop. He definitely enjoyed it!

Plan Your Weather Themed #PLAYfulPreschool Learning Week:

Preschool Songs: I’m a Cloud by Growing Book By Book

Let’s Make Rain: A Pre-Writing Activity by The Educators’ Spin On It
Rain in a Jar by Tiny Tots Adventures
Make a Pinwheel Weathervane by Powerful Mothering