Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Sunshine Activities


Homemade Thermometer Activity
A finished homemade thermometer
A finished homemade thermometer
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Try this homemade thermometer activity and show kids how easy it is to find out the temperature by using water -- not mercury, the poisonous metal most thermometers are made with.

What You'll Need:

  • Soft drink bottle
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Clear drinking straw
  • Modeling clay
  • Index card
  • Tape
  • Pen or pencil

How to Make a Homemade Thermometer:

Step 1: Fill a small soft drink bottle almost full of water (about four-fifths full). Color the water with food coloring.

Step 2: Put a clear drinking straw in the bottle so that the straw goes halfway down into the bottle. Use modeling clay to seal the top of the bottle and hold the straw in place.

Step 3: Tape an index card to the straw. You will use the card as a scale. Make a mark on the card to show where the water level is.

Now move your thermometer to a sunny place. Does the water rise? Mark the index card to show the new water level. (You may want to mark it with an 'S' so you'll know which mark is which.)

Check your thermometer at different times of the day to see how the temperature varies.

You can also compare it with the weather section of your local newspaper to see if your readings match the "official" temperature.

Keep reading to find out how to make a sundial out of everyday objects -- no carpentry required!

For more fun activities and crafts, try:


More to Explore