Weather Experiments and Activities for Kids

Gum Wrapper Thermometer

With a foil gum wrapper and a few craft supplies you can make your own simple thermometer.

What You'll Need:

  • Foil gum wrapper (foil on one side and paper on the other)
  • Safe scissors
  • Spool (or similar item)
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Index cards
  • Pencil or pen
  • Store-bought thermometer

Foil gum wrappers are made of two different materials: metal foil and paper. Both react a little differently to heat. The metal foil actually expands a little bit more than the paper as it gets hot.

Because the different layers of the wrapper expand and contract at different rates, the wrapper will actually bend as the temperature changes.

Step 1: Cut a long pointer from a gum wrapper. Tape one end of the pointer to the side of a spool.

Step 2: Glue the spool on its end atop an index card. That's all there is to it!

But wait -- how do you know how hot or cold it is? If you want actual numbers, you'll have to check a regular thermometer. Once you do that, mark the current temperature on the index card wherever the pointer is pointing to.

When the temperature changes, mark the new temperature on your homemade thermometer.

You'll find that the gum wrapper thermometer isn't terribly precise; humidity can affect its accuracy. Still, it can tell you whether it is hotter today than yesterday, and maybe that's all the precision you want!

For more fun activities and crafts, check out:


The following activities were designed by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe, and Kelly Milner Halls: