Tornado in a Bottle: Easiest DIY Science Lesson EVER!

The tornado in a bottle is seriously the easiest homemade science lesson–even science TOY if you will–that you will ever make!  We have had so much fun with this simple DIY activity!

tornado in a bottle

I saw this pin on Pinterest and knew we’d have fun with it!  So a big thank you goes out to EllieMoon for her blog post, Tornado in a Jar DIY, which inspired us!

Materials Needed:
*a clean bottle or jar
*water
*dish soap

Could it get any simpler?

tornado in a bottle
Directions:
I have been saving the kids’ vitamin bottles and decided that one of those would be perfect since it has a child-proof lid.  No need in getting soapy water all over the house if it can be avoided, right?  The bottle is also thick plastic, so I don’t have to worry about it breaking into a thousand shards of super sharp glass should the kids drop it while shaking!

tornado in a jar
I put the water in the bottle and let the kids squeeze in some dish soap.  We used Seventh Generation dish soap, but anything should work.  I screwed the cap on and made sure the bottle was watertight.  It was! 🙂
tornado in a jar

So, here’s our tornado in a bottle!  Please note: it is very hard to shake a jar, pick up your camera, get it to focus, and snap a pic before the little teeny tornado vanishes.  The tornadoes we create are much cooler than I was able to actually capture in the photos since I was working alone during nap time.

tornado in a bottle tornado in a bottle
 tornado in a bottle tornado in a bottle

We’ve been keeping the “tornado in a bottle” on our kitchen table.  It’s at the right eye-level for the kids there, and I’ll shake it up once or twice while we’re eating for us all to enjoy.

You really can shake it all different ways to create a tornado.  That in itself is kind of a fun experiment.  It can take a little bit of practice to get the hang of it at first.  My method is to hold the bottle upright and make a motion like I’m stirring a big bowl with a wooden spoon, if that makes sense.  Keep trying until you get a swirling tornado!  Who can make a tornado that lasts the longest?

tornado in a bottle
I think it’d be fun to experiment with different sizes of bottles to see which make the best tornadoes!  You could also try adding some food coloring, glitter, grass, or little objects like Monopoly houses to the water/soap mix for some additional experimentation!

tornado in a bottle

Okay, so there you have it.  Go use up something in your fridge, wash the jar or bottle, and peel the label.  That’ll be the hardest part of this really fun science toy! 🙂

tornado in a bottle

Have you made a tornado in a bottle yet?  What are you waiting for?

tornado in a bottle


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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • Shonda says:

    Wow, how fun is that! Have to try that one too!

  • Using this today in our home school science! Our book called for two 2liters, which I didn’t have, so glad to find this!

  • Anonymous says:

    does the kind of soap matters. I’m no good at this one. The soap froths and we can’t see anything. When it clear there isn’t any thing to see.

  • Anonymous says:

    Same nothing happens when we did it either. Tried different containers and varied the amount of soap. Is there a secret?

  • Anonymous says:

    This also didn’t work for us. Does the dish soap matter? We used Palmolive and it just frothed, no tornado.

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  • Angela Castle says:

    we added a bit of vinegar it offsets the soap and we also added a little bit of glitter and it worked

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  • becky says:

    Shaking up and down doesn’t work.we found swirling the container makes it happen ☺

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  • alfonzo peterson says:

    cool website my kid like it so much he id starting to go crazy

  • […] Tornado in a Bottle from In Lieu of Preschool […]

  • Anonymous says:

    This comment means no disrespect to Mother’s & Teachers who spend the majority of their time trying to teacher America’s children all about things of the world. The experiment does look like fun,entertaining,& educational. However, as a recent victim of one of the severest tornadoes to occur in America, who was rescued & survived with my life, my cat, & precious few belongings, I would please ask you to also teach them that just because it is fun to watch a replica in a jar that outside of that jar in the real world tornadoes bring death, devastation, and loss. They aren’t funny like in a jar—they are serious and deadly. Maybe you can teach them what to do in case of a tornado warning and what they should do to protect themselves and others.

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  • Lexi Tanuis says:

    It stinks that it doesn’t last long 🙁 but it’s still a cool DIY!

  • M says:

    This DID NOT WORK!MY BOYS WERE SO DISAPPOINTED. ..it would definitely be better to have the amounts of water and soap added….

  • Myths says:

    LoL. I want this in my kitchen to remind me of the times when the tornado was passing through here.

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