Why Do Onions Make Us Cry?

Why Do Onions Make Us Cry?

There are two videos to choose from to learn about why onions make us cry.

The first one is better for younger kids, the second one will appeal to older kids. Feel free to watch one, or both!

You may also be interested in learning more about onions and crying in the two “deeper dive” videos. Then choose some activities and/or a project. 

High school students or any student who wants to dig deeper, continue your study with one of the advanced learning projects. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to test your understanding by taking the quiz.

Take A Deeper Dive!

Do you know how to dice an onion?

There are three types of tears.


Draw and Label An Onion

Follow the video to draw and color some onions. Then use this photo from RenovatingYourMind.com to guide you in labeling the parts of an onion. 

Take a picture of your creation and upload it to your portfolio.

Learn to Chop Onions Like a Pro

WARNING!  This activity involves cutting with sharp objects. DO NOT use a sharp knife until checking with your grown-up. 

Here you will see how to safely dice, slice, and chop your onion into rings. Pay close attention to the fingers that are holding the onion. This will help you not to cut your fingers. 

Note for students that are new to knives: you can use a butter knife to chop onion rings into chunks. Students with more experience with knives can try these methods with a sharp knife. 

Step 1: Watch the video.

Step 2: Get a grown-up to help. 

Step 3: Following the method on the video, try cutting your onion. 

Step 4: Take a picture of your creation. Write a description of your method. 

Step 5: Upload your picture and description to your portfolio.


Perform an Onion Experiment

Warning! This experiment involves cutting with sharp objects (and may cause your eyes to sting). DO NOT perform this experiment without checking with your grown-up. Make sure you perform this experiment safely without getting hurt. You may want to check out the video in Activity 2  first to learn how to chop an onion safely. 

The video shows some ways to avoid crying while cutting onions. You may also want to rewatch the introduction video for older kids, which also mentions some options. Which method do you think will work best? Let’s experiment to compare methods. 

STEP 1: Get a grown-up to help.   

STEP 2: Download and print this scientific experiment form from Montgomery Schools to document your scientific experiment. 

STEP 3: Choose 1 or more ways to try cutting an onion that you think will not result in tears. Give it a try. Record your findings on the document. 

STEP 4: Repeat steps 1-3 to test another tear-free method. 

STEP 5: Upload your document to your portfolio.

Grow An Onion From a Scrap

Did you know you can regrow an onion from a scrap? The first video will show you how. The second and third videos show the growth after 1 month and 3 months. (This project will take longer than one week.)

All you need is an onion and some water to start the project. Once the onion has some roots, you will need a spot in the earth or a pot with soil to plant your onion in. 

Document the growth of your onion with pictures and dates.

Upload your documentation to your portfolio.

Look Closely at an Onion Cell

If you have a microscope and the related supplies, take a closer look at the cells of an onion at home. If you do not have the supplies, you can still observe the cells in the videos provided and record your observations. 

Download and print this form from Home Science Tools to document your discoveries as you observe the cells. 


  • A Microscope
  • Microscope Slides
  • Coverslips
  • A Kitchen Knife
  • Pipettes (optional)
  • Tweezers (optional)
  • An Onion
  • Cutting Board
  • Drops of water
  • Blue ink and concentrated alcohol (optional: to stain the nucleus)

Follow the instructions on the videos to get a good view. 

Upload your observations to your portfolio.

Advanced Project(s)

Choose at least one.

Onions in our Diet

How do onions affect our bodies? We now know that the sulfur in onions can make our eyes burn, but it also contributes to the flavor. What else is important to know about dietary sulfur in the foods we eat? Do onions have medicinal properties? If so, what are they? 

Document additional questions you have regarding onions and dietary health. 

Research the benefits and concerns of onions and/or sulfur in the human diet. 

Write an essay:

Download and print this blank outline from studenthandouts.com, to help you organize your essay. 

Do the research and fill in the notes of what you want to include in your outline. Then, write the essay. Be sure to use a tool like Grammarly to help improve and edit your writing.

Upload your essay to your portfolio.

Onion Cuisine

Not every onion is equal. Each has its flavor. Some are better served plain in salads, others taste great in soups, while still others are best as a garnish. 

Compare the differences. Try them in different types of dishes. See what appeals most to you and the people with whom you share meals. 

Document your learning with a recipe book, photo collage, video creation, or essay.

Upload your creation to your portfolio.

Onions in Poetry Project

Onions are often used as a metaphor in life. Think about how onions relate to your own life. 

Write a poem. If you need a boost about what kind of poem to create, check out 8 Types of Poetry by Radiate Literary. 

The videos may provide some inspiration. 

Upload your poetry to your portfolio. 


Read Aloud Book(s)