Family Thunderstorm Activity

Kids of all ages can have fun together when they team up to make an indoor thunderstorm! This activity can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like, taking up just 20 minutes or a couple hours.

Start by talking to your kids about thunderstorms. What do they hear? What do they see? What does they feel like?

The next step is to gather items from around your house to imitate all of the sounds and sights of a thunderstorm.

Once you’ve got one or more items created or assembled from each section listed below, it’s time to make the storm happen! Gather everyone and everything into a dark room – turn off the lights and close the doors and blinds. Share the thunder, lightning, rain, and wind-makers between your family members and go nuts!

Making Thunder

Want to keep it short? Here are options with no preparation necessary:

  • Grab sheets or towels from your house and give them some good, fast shakes. This is great for bigger, stronger children, especially if they work in pairs with each person hold a side of the sheet.
  • Use the surfaces around you. For example, use your firsts to pound on the coffee table or jump up and down on the floor.
  • You can also use just your body. Watch this fun video to hear and see ways to use only your hands to make the sounds of thunder and rain.

Have a little more time? Here are simple DIY drums for younger kids:

Want a bit of a project? Here are more “advanced” DIYs for older children:

  • DIY Thunder tube -based on this actual thunder tube that musicians use in concert halls to make thunder noises.
  • Modified thunder tube noise maker
  • Want to go all out? Head to a hardware store and grab a small piece of sheet metal (like this one). Orchestras and bands often use sheet metal to make thunder storms but holding it at the top two corners and shaking and wobbling it. If you’re in the mood to pull out some tools, model your steel sheet instrument after this crazy one.

Making Lightning

Keep it short:

  • Flashlights
  • Cell phones

DIY’s for young and old:

These offer a chance to build in some science about light and static electricity

  • Using a few simple materials, you can make this lightning “zapper.” Kids will be able to see and feel the lightning
  • We’ve all seen the little static bolts flying through the blankets when getting cozy on a dark night. Make them happen on purpose by rubbing wool or fleece blankets together or against your skin.

Making Rain

Keep it short:

  • Tap your fingertips or finder nails on a hard surface like a table.
  • Go back to this video from the thunder section to see how you can use just your hands to make rain sounds.

Simple DIYs:

Making Wind

Keep it short:

Gather up some windmakers from around your house like

  • Blanket/towels (give them a shake to make it blustery)
  • Paper plates or other study flat objects can act as easy fans
  • Plus in an actual fan to make some steady “hurricane wind”

Simple DIY:

The Final Product

There are lots of things you can do to explore with this activity further:

1) Pass the different elements around between family members so your kids each get to try everything.

2) Designate a “Simon” and play Simon Says/Hears/Sees – “Simon hears LOUD thunder” or “Simon sees just a little lightening.”

3) Choose a person to lead the rainstorm – have them direct the group as to when to make the storm get closer and the rain get louder, let them decide when and if they want thunder or lightening, if they want it to be a calm storm or a crazy storm, etc.

4) Experiment with the objects that you use. Which thunder sounds do you like best? How can you make the loudest rain?