a tornado in a mason jar

Create a Tornado in a Jar

Explore the science behind tornadoes with this easy activity.

Ask your child if they know what a tornado is. If they need help, explain that a tornado is a violent, rotating column of air that forms under the right weather conditions. When a tornado forms, it creates a vortex which is a spinning, often turbulent flow of air. We can create our own vortex by swirling the contents of the jar to observe the motion of a tornado.


  • Glass or plastic jar with a lid
  • Liquid soap
  • Vinegar
  • Water


  1. Have your child fill a jar almost to the rim with cold water.
  2. Add a few squirts of clear liquid soap to the jar of water.
  3. Put about a capful of vinegar in the jar as well.
  4. Make sure your child puts the lid back on the jar tightly. They can shake then swirl the jar to form a tornado!

Caroline Gravino has four children and is also a crafter, video producer and content designer.

This activity comes to you from the creators of Nature Cat.

Iowa PBS STEAM Activities and Crafts provided by PBS KIDS Parents.