Homemade Rain Gauge

Here’s how to make a really simple rain gauge using recycled materials, for some rainy day fun! There are plenty of opportunities for learning about measuring, number recognition, capacity and weather along the way too!

We have had the most incredible, persistent rainfall for the past 10 days here in the Southern UK, and it has inhibited a lot of our outdoor play ideas. But then I came up with a really easy way to embrace the rain and throw in a bit of playful learning too, by measuring the rainfall!
All you need is an empty plastic bottle, the larger the better!

I cut around the body of the bottle, about 5cm down from the top. We simply turned it upside-down and placed it inside the bottle, making sure it was pushed down and flush with the edges.

Our bottle had grooves on it already and I just drew around them using a permanent marker. Just make sure your lines are at regular intervals, ready for measuring! Cakie got her ruler and held it up to the lines I had drawn, making a good attempt to read the numbers back. I wrote on the measurements in centimetres.

Next, the wellie boots and rain coat were on (over the pi’s!) and she went out to find a good place to put the bottle.

We decided to slightly wedge it between some flower pots so that the wind didn’t blow it away.

24 hours later, Cakie rushed out to check out the water level in her rain gauge and it was already up to our first marker level of 4cm!!

The rain continues to fall and we are checking every day. The level is rising by at least 2-4cm per day…wow!

With older children I would consider making a line graph to chart the increase in rain and investigate the average monthly rainfall in Britain compared to the rest of the world.

Learning Links:
  • maths: measuring, recognising numbers, exploring capacity (filling/ emptying/ increase in volume)
  • science (knowledge & understanding of the world):  talk about rain and the water cycle, weather, seasons, rainfall/ flood/ drought, comparing countries

Cakie: 3 years 7 months
Pop: 2 years 1 month
Bean: 9 weeks


  1. says

    Fabulous 😀 We have had ours in the garden since beginnig of March and it amazing how much rain has fallen over the last week. On Wednesday we had as much rain as we had the whole of March.

  2. says

    Such a good idea Anna I’m going to do this with my eldest she loves filling any type of container so this will put a new spin on it.


  3. says

    I always had a rain gauge growing up (thanks to Dad) and we’ll have to just make one now. I know C will love it. Not so much rain here lately, but we had tons last Spring, over summer, Fall, and WInter. Now it is Spring and Rain is obsolete? Love your your rainbow header!

  4. says

    Good idea! They learn a lot of things at once….creating the material first, using it second and than interpret what happened. I love concrete material for kids; they will remember better learning that way!

  5. Anonymous says

    I just recently began reading your blog! Just wanted to tell you that I LOVE LOVE LOVE your ideas! Thank you and keep up the fabulous thinking that will enhance the lives of all our children!!!!!