The Water Cycle

23 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT explain and describe the water cycle.

Big Idea

Water cycle is like a cycle of events that happen over and over again in a particular order.

Setting the Stage

National Science Education Standards:

  • Changes in the Earth

"Weather changes from day to day and over the seasons."

This lesson addresses water cycle. In this lesson, students learn that water moves from air to land and back to air. This lesson is taught because it addresses Tennessee standards. In Tennessee, students  learn that the waters on Earth are constantly circulating from the oceans into the atmosphere and back to the oceans.  The heat from the sun permits the water to evaporate and return back to the atmosphere. As the water returns, it turns into a gas, water vapor, and the water vapor condenses, or changes into small drops of water. The small drops of water come together to form a cloud. Then the drops become heavy and fall to the ground as rain or snow. This is called precipitation.

Science and Engineering Practice: 

SP 3 addresses planning and carrying out investigations.  In K-2, students plan and carry out investigations to answer questions or test solutions. In this lesson, students plan and carry out investigation on water vapor. This lesson is imperative because students learn that even though you can not see water vapor in the air, it is still present. 

SP 8 addresses obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in K–2. Students communicate information with others in oral and written form to discuss scientific ideas.  In this lesson, groups communicate with each other about water vapor through a scientific investigation.  This investigation permits students to dialogue with their peers as they discover water vapor is still present even if it is not seen.

Prior Knowledge:

Students understand that the weather is always changing day to day and season to season. They also understand that precipitation can be rain, snow, ice, or hail, and meteorologists use various tools to determine and predict the weather.

Junior Scientists:

In my class, my students are called Junior Scientists. They wear lab jackets that they created early in the school year to be worn, during their experiments. I call them junior scientists to encourage them to major in Science and Math related careers. I want them to develop a love for Science and Math. Also, we sing "It is Science Time" before each lesson or "I Got A Feeling".



10 minutes

At their desks, students sing a song at the opening of each science lesson.  This song motivates and engages my Junior Scientists at the beginning of each science lesson. During science lessons, I call my students scientists to empower students and make them dreamers and doers.

“I Can” statement

I call on a student to read our "I Can" statement for the day. While using an over-sized microphone, a scientist says, "I can explain and describe the water cycle." The "I Can" statement helps students take ownership of the lesson as they put standards into context. The other students praise the student that reads the "I Can" statement by clapping.  I encourage students to give each other praise to boost their self-esteem.


Students observe a video about the water cycle. The video helps my visual and auditory learners as they learn more in depth about the water cycle. 

Flow Chart

I call on a student to place the provided cards in the correct order. These strategies help students retell the key concepts in the lesson, orally. Then I have all the students read the cards in the correct order.  Also, it helps my visual and hands-on learners.

Water Cycle Flow Chart


25 minutes

My students proceed to their group tables when I say "We Are On The Move" and they stand and sing, We Are On The Move. This routine helps my students move to their table with very few distractions. This also helps my auditory learners who enjoy singing as well as my kinesthetic children who enjoy moving.  

When students get to their tables, they begin to assign their roles: a person to lead, record, measure, and report. I assign the leader who is one of my advanced students who posses, leadership qualities. They put on their group labels with a clothes pin to ensure that I know each child's role.  Students are grouped by abilities to support students’ learning. I want all my students to take ownership of their learning, so assigning roles permits students to develop confidence in their roles while using their strengths to accomplish their group's goals.  All hands must be on deck.  The groups are reminded of the group rules. The group rules are located at their table so they can reference them.

At the group's table, the groups are provided with a metal can, cup of ice, and food coloring. Groups are informed that they are going to investigate water vapor. 

They are informed to ask and observe questions about the items. They are encouraged to write their questions on their lab sheet. Then I inform students to make a prediction, "What effect will the ice have on the can?" The groups are prompted to write their hypothesis on their lab sheet. I walk around to observe their questions and hypothesis. My students have difficulties with formulating questions and writing their hypothesis, so I assist with those two steps of the scientific method. Then I invite the groups to follow the lab sheet to complete their investigation.  I give the students 15 minutes to complete the investigation. I time the students, so there is no idle time.

While the students are working, I play the role as the facilitator. I walk around to make sure that the groups are on task and I help the groups as needed. I ask the groups questions such as: What changes are occurring? How does the can represent the water cycle? Where did the water come from that is on the outside of the can? Why is the water not blue? I ask the group these questions to make sure that they understand that the ice cause the metal can to be cold and an invisible gas begin to rise which is water vapor. The water vapor causes the gas to turn into a liquid which is condensation. This experience allow students to understand the water cycle better. 

Water Cycle-video


10 minutes

Group Discussion

I call the groups to the carpet to discuss the investigation. I ask groups: What did they notice about the can? Did you notice water on the outside of your can? Did the water leak from the inside of the can? Explain. I ask the students these questions to make sure that they understand that the cold water helps water vapor condenses back into liquid water. The water did not leak from the can because the water is not colored on the outside of the can. Also, the metal can serves as a visual to help support students' understanding of the water cycle


15 minutes

At the students' desks, they are provided with a construction sheet of paper to draw the water cycle. My students below grade level are provided with the steps to assist them with drawing their water cycle.  I provide them with a sheet to accommodate their learning.  The students on grade level are provided with a sheet to assist them as while, but the steps are not in order. I do not put the steps in order because I want to advance these students' thinking. The students that are above grade level are provided with a writing template where they can draw and write about the water cycle. My advanced students are provided with this opportunity to challenge them academically.

When the students have completed the water cycle activity, I take it up and evaluate their work. I am checking to see that the students understood the steps of the water cycle.