The Water Cycle

Where does our water come from? We know it sometimes comes from the sky, when it falls out of the clouds. We also know it can be on the ground, such as in a lake or ocean. But did you know that all this water is moving from one place to another? We call it the water cycle.

NASA made a very simple diagram of the water cycle (above), so we will look at it to better understand how it all works. The water from oceans, lakes and streams evaporates up into the sky (or atmosphere) in a process called evaporation. Once it's up there, the water gets cooler and condenses together into clouds, this is called condensation. After a while, the clouds may turn into rain clouds which means it will start to rain! This is called precipitation. After it rains, where is the water? Right, back on the ground and in the streams, lakes and oceans, waiting to start the cycle again! We can call this part of the cycle collection. Water also leaves plants, such as trees, by going up into the sky in a process called transpiration.

Younger Learners

For younger learners, invite them to cut up very small pieces of green, blue and white paper. After they cut the papers into small pieces, they can paste them to make grass, water, and clouds. This can be a time intensive process that really gets them focused on cutting and pasting carefully. After they finish pasting the pieces, they can draw arrows to resemble the water cycle, and draw a picture of themself or their family wearing rain clothes to protect themselves from the precipitation.

Learners Who are Practicing Writing

This is very similar to the solar system activity, wherein the children can cut out all the different shapes they'll need. They will need to make grass, water, clouds, and trees, and if they'd like they can make mountains and houses and boats too! (Make as detailed of a scene as you'd like!) After everything is cut and pasted, they can practice their writing by making labels for each part of the cycle: evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Once their labels are on their picture, they can draw arrows to show the movement of water through the cycle.

Learners Who are Experienced Writers

  • Why do you think some clouds dissipate (kinda like disappearing) and don't turn into rain?

  • Why do you think some clouds make rain and other clouds make snow?

  • Can you make a story about what it would be like if you were a drop of water going through the water cycle?

Two Short Educational Videos

Here are two short videos your child may enjoy on the water cycle, the first one is more playful and the second one is a little more informative for older children.

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