Register Now

Water Cycle

Compiled By: Editor

Ideas for teaching about water and the water cycle

water cycle
Posted by: Julianne

You can study it first in a book and follow up with an experiment, or you can start with the experiment and follow up with a book review. I like to start with the experiment because it gets the kids excited about the subject. Here's one I've used for water cycle:

Cut a 2 liter pop bottle in half about 4 inches from the base. Using potting soil and seeds or a small plant, make a terrarium in the bottom portion of the bottle. Water it and squeeze the top portion of the bottle inside the bottom to make a dome. You can also just tape the two halves back together using clear packing tape. Put the terrariums in a light window - not too much sun or you'll bake the plants! Let the kids predict what they think will happen. Have them guess how much they'll have to water, how tall the plants will grow, what will happen to the container, etc. Let them come up with the questions to ask. What you should notice as time goes by is that the inside of the dome gets misty and the plants continue to grow without the use of additional water. As a control, you can leave the lid off one of the planters. Water it as often as you water the terrariums. What do the kids think the difference will be? Watching the condensation/evaporation cycle in this way allows for some real discussion about what is happening and how it works. From there the books will fill in the gaps.

Posted by: JohnV

I haven't specifically taught about the Earth's water, but I do know a few activities that might fit into this category.

For the water cycle, make a water cycle in a box (or bottle). You need a clear container that can be sealed airtight. Put a sample of liquid water in the bottom, seal it and apply cold (ice) to the top. Condensation will form on the inside and collect into drops which will run down to the bottom illustrating evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. I use a clear plastic shoebox from WalMart sealed with cling wrap over the top. I put a jar cover with water in one end of the box and a construction paper tent in the other half. I put ice on the cling wrap over the construction paper. Condensation forms inside the cling wrap and a drop collects which falls onto the construction paper.

Our sixth grade teachers use a set of one-liter (or 20 ounce) bottles to show the categories of water in the world. One bottle has water in it to represent the oceans, one represents the polar ice caps, one is fresh water, etc. You would have to look up the numbers (percentages) and calculate the amount of water to put in each bottle (1 percent of 1000 milliliters for example would be 10 milliliters). It is a revelation for the students when they discover that fresh water that is available for drinking is only a few drops.

Look in the phone book for the local county extension agent or the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the US department of agriculture. Their national website is:

They will have access to teaching materials concerning soil and water conservation. You can download some of them from the website or order them through the mail. I will bet that the local NRCS would be willing to guest lecture for you, also.

Check back here from time to time. As I have a chance, I will search for more stuff.


water cycle poem
Posted by: Kelly

Here is a poem that I turned into a song and my kids loved it. I don't remember where I got it though.

The Water Cycle
The heat from the sun (arms in big circle over head)
Shines down on the lake (bend knees and use flat palms to push downward)
And causes some water to evaporate (stand back up again, rolling your shoulders one at a time)
Evaporated water rises up to the sky (raise hands with fingers pointed up and wiggling)
And changes into clouds that we see passing by (make a big circle with your arms again like you did for the sun)
Along comes a wind (blow)
And blows them around (sway back and forth - arms are still making a cloud)
And thatís what makes the rain that falls to the ground (bend knees, fingers pointing up and wiggling as you go lower)

water cycle
Posted by: Lynne

One idea is to build a terrarium in a clear container such as deli salads come in. Some grocery stores will even donate enough for the class. Put in some gravel, potting soil, a nice-sized piece of moss, and water, then seal it up. Have the students observe it for a few days then send it home. Another idea is to make a bracelet using a piece of rawhide cord and different colored beads to represent the different parts of the cycle. By touching the beads they can recite the cycle. Just knot the cord on either side of the beads and then tie the bracelet on. I used transluscent pony beads for mine. Betsy Zadorozny of Oklahoma gave us this idea in a workshop she did for us. She has books called EMERALDS, RUBIES, PEARLS, and so on that are chock full of great science ideas!

water cycle
Posted by: Kate

There is a little story that's really cute. Its great to get some puppets so that the kids can dramatize it while you are reading (mine were paper cut-outs)

Adventures of Randy the Raindrop

Randy the raindrop lived in a cluod
the heat from the sun made him big, strong, and proud!
he got bigger and bigger until one day - Oh My!
he fell throught the floor of his house in the sky!

Randy was scared, then he noticed more raindrops falling,
"hey Randy, isn't this fun?" they were calling
Then onto a leaf with a splash Randy fell,
and what happened next is a strange thing to tell.

Randy was made up of water, you know,
a part of him went to help the tree grow.
The rest of him went into a puddle so round,
then the sun came out and shone on the ground.

The sun warmed Randy and he started to change,
He became water vapour - My isn't that strange?
Little drops of water, too tiny to see
Foated into the sky- yes that was Randy!

Randy's home once again was a cloud in the sky,
He was a raindrop once more, but then by and by...
The sun made him bigger and bigger and then....
He fell through the floor of his house once again!

Water Cycle
Posted by: Lori-Ann Phelan

I also sang a cute song with hand motions:

(Sang to the tune of She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain)

Water travels in a cycle, yes it does
(use pointer finger to make a big circle)

Water travels in a cycle, yes it does
(repeat finger circle)

It goes up as evaporation
(moves hands up to the sky

Forms clouds as condensation
(make a cloud overhead with arms)

Then comes down as precipitation, yes it does!
(sprinkle with fingers while bringing arms down in front of you)

The kids loved it!!


water cycle
Posted by: jay

I just came upon this water-cycle poem that I thought might help. Sorry I don't know the author.
The Water Cycle Story
The heat from the sun shines down on the lake
And causes some water to evaporate
Evaporated water rises up to the sky
And changes into clouds that we see passing by
Along comes the wind and blows them around
And that's what makes the rain that falls to the ground

water cycle song
Posted by: Cheryl

I found a great song that helps my students remember the stages of the water cycle. It goes to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It"

Water travels in a cycle, yes it does
Water travels in a cycle, yes it does.
It goes up as evaporation,
Forms clouds as condensation,
Then comes down as precipitation, yes it does.

We sang this song and made up our own actions. The kids loved it. Enjoy!

Cheryl :-)

water cycle
Posted by: Donna

I just taught the water cycle to my second graders and we used a song to remember the steps. It is to the tune "Oh My Darlin": Evaporation, condensation, precipitation on my head -- accumulation, water cycle, then we start all over again. They loved it! We even made up motions to go with it. I got the idea from Jean Blaydes who is with Susan Kovalik and Associates.

fresh water from salt water
Posted by: lil annie

We had an experiment in our science book that the kids found fascinating. You mix salt and water and pour into a bowl of sand. Work a clean cup or other container down into the wet sand and cover the whole bowl with plastic wrap and secure it with a rubber band. Place 2-3 marbles on top over the clean container and place the bowl in a very warm place (like the sun). When you check it again in a couple hours, there will be water in the clean cup and it will be fresh water, not salty.

This is a great way to teach about the water cycle.

View Thread
water cycle
Posted by: diane

Evaporation, condensation, precipitation
on my mind
These are part of the water cycle and
they happen all the time.

Tune: Oh my Darlin'

We do actions with them and make little bracelets out of bathroom tissue rolls and a symbol for each. (Sun, Cloud, Rain drop )I love doing the water cycle with my kinderkids! Have fun!

Water Cycle
Posted by: Rhonda

Melissa, I am not sure if you are still looking for ideas, but there is a "Water Wheel" in the AIMS book about water. It is basically 2 sheets of papaer with big circles on them. One has rain drops and snow flakes on it and the other is a picture of a landscape with holes to cut out so the rain and snow can show through. You hook them together with a brass fastener in the middle and we hooked them to popcicle sticks. The kids can spin the wheel and move the water from the clouds to the lake to the land etc...e-mail me if you have a question or I will be happy to send you a copy of this!!

Water Cycle Song
Posted by: Betsy

Sung to the tune of "She'll be coming 'round the Mountain"

Water travels in a cycle, yes it does
Water travels in a cycle, yes it does
It goes up as EVAPORATION
Forms clouds as CONDENSATION
Yes it does

My class loved this song and they all got the water cycle correct on the test so I know it's a "keeper" for me!

Water Cycle Lesson Plan
Posted by: jodiereed

I have used this with my 4th graders.

The Water Cycle Lesson Plan

1. Get a glass of water
1. Ask- How come we never run out of water?
Our water travels in a cycle and we call this the water cycle.
Today we will learn the 3 stages of the water cycle.
2. Ask students to prentend that it's a very hot day out and there are puddles in the street.
But, then the sun comes out! Where did the water go?
Relate to cooking- cooking rice- where did this water go.
Swipe the chalk board with water from a paper towel. Where did the water go?
You'll need a pot of water and a small burner for this next part.
Boil some water. Let the kids come up to feel the water evaporating onto their hands. Make sure they feel the water on their hands.
Relate the burner to the sun. Because this is what causes it to happen at a much faster rate. (heat)
3. Why can't we see the water rising into the air after it has rained outside? We can't we see the water rising into the air when we are out sitting by the lake?
It has turned into a gas called water vapor.
Water vapor rises high into the sky and into the clouds. We can't see this happenning because it's a gas.
4. What happens once this gas we call water vapor gets to the clouds?
Place a lid on the boiling pot of water. Pick up the lid after a couple of seconds and show them that the vapor has turned back into a liquid, water. This process is called condensation.
Students will pretend that they are in a hot shower, the bathroom is really foggy and you can't even see the mirror. Someone opens the bathroom door (probably your annoying little brother or sister). Ask the students what happens to the mirror when all of that cold air comes in when the door opens.
Place a mirror over the boiling pot of water. Relate this to the water cycle. First the water evaporates from the shower or the boiling water. Then it turns into a gas, water vapor. which leads to the mirror. When the cold air hits the mirror (lift your mirror off the boiling pot of water) the water vapor forms little droplets of water. This is condensation. Show the students the water running down the mirror. Precipitation.
5. Condensation is always a hard concept for them to remember so relate it to a cold can of soda outside or the morning dew.
6. To show the students what happens inside the cloud use a large sponge. Slowly pour a glass of water in the sponge. When the sponge can't hold anymore water it comes out. Precipitation.
Just like when we need to go to the restroom and can't hold it anymore.
Draw a diagram on the board and label the parts of the water cycle.
Show a power point and let the students explain the different steps. Make sure they use the correct vocab.
Make a terrarium. This is a good model of how the water cycle works. Tie this in with writing. Students can write an adventure story about them in the terrarium.
Experiment - On two paper plates put a couple of water drops trace them with a pencil. Put one plate in the sun and one in a dark part of the room. Which evaporates faster and why???

View Thread