AROUND AND AROUND (THE WATER CYCLE)
Grades 2 - 3
The water cycle? What is it? This lesson introduces students
to the major components and vocabulary of the water cycle through
use of video. It culminates with the class making a water cycle in a
and discussing care of our water.
"Take a Look #118: Rain"
Students will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge of the components of the water cycle by
it and by making a model of it.
- Explain how the Earth-Sun relationship shapes climate.
- Understand the reasons and explain why we need to take care of our
For each student:
- 10 clear cup
- 1/3 cup (measuring cup)
- empty ice cube tray
- small clear jar filled with rocks
- hot plate & tea kettle
- frozen ice cubes in tray
- plant in a baggie
- dry erase markers
- quart-size zip-lock baggie
- duplicated picture of water cycle
- permanent markers and crayons
- small amount of gravel
- 1 sheet of drawing paper
- water cycle
Who has heard of something called the water cycle? Even if
have not learned about it or heard of it, I need you to draw it for me.
It is OK if you don't know about this. I am just checking on what you
before we begin. We call this a pretest so I can have some idea of what
we learn today. So please, draw the water cycle for me." Pass out
and crayons and have the class draw the water cycle as best they can.
Remember our lesson about the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and
gas?" Allude to a previously covered topic by asking the class to
what those three states of matter are. A solid is something that does not
change shape when moved from place to place. A liquid is something that
does not have a shape of its own. It can be poured. Water is a liquid. A
gas is something that does not have a shape of its own and expands to
a container. Air is a gas.
"Today we are going to be talking about water and the water cycle.
A cycle is like a circle. It goes around and around. We have what is
a closed system on Earth. All of the water here stays here. All the water
that we have on Earth today is water that was here when the dinosaurs
here. None of it escapes into space. Some of this water on Earth is
for us to use as fresh water and some isn't.
Let's pretend that I can shrink all the water on Earth into these 10 cups
of water here. This represents all the water available to us on
Measure 1/3 cup of water from the 10 cups. "This 1/3 cup represents
all the freshwater on Earth. Freshwater is water that we can drink."
"The remaining 9 2/3 cups of water is salt water." Pour salt
that water. Set aside.
To visualize frozen freshwater, I will remove 12 teaspoons from the 1/3
cup of fresh water and pour this into an ice tray. This shows the world's
fresh water that is frozen in polar ice caps and glaciers." Set
"We can't use this water, either."
"To show fresh ground water, I am going to pour all but 1 teaspoon
of the remaining freshwater into a clear jar containing rocks. The water
in this jar represents the amount of water that occurs in the ground.
The remaining 1 teaspoon represents all the fresh surface water in the
This is all the water we have available to us and we need to take care of
it." (This is an adaptation from GEE-WOW! Adventures in Water
Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan.) This allows some review of
and of measuring.
To give the class a main focus for viewing this video, ask
to "Please listen to find out what the water cycle is all about. You
need to listen for the three parts of the water cycle and what these
things do in the water cycle."
START video immediately after the title RAIN and right
before the boy sings, "Rain, rain go away."
PAUSE video immediately after Kate says, "Unfortunately, we
don't have much control over the water cycle" to give students a
responsibility while viewing the first segment. Ask the class,
Cycle? What is the water cycle? Raise your hand when you can describe the
main idea of what the water cycle is and how it works."
PAUSE as soon as a child raises a hand or after Kate tells the
("...back to a liquid again") to check on the class' answer
constant changing of a liquid to a gas and back to a liquid again). (You
might check here on comprehension of liquids, solids, and gases
REWIND a few seconds back to after Kate says, "Unfortunately,
we don't have much control over the water cycle." This will give a
chance to highlight the main idea. "Let's hear that part
Give the class a specific focus for viewing as you ask them to
again for the main idea of the water cycle and how it works."
PAUSE after Kate says, "...back to a liquid again" to
comprehension of the main idea. "Tell me again what the water cycle
is. What does invisible mean? "(can not see it) To give the students
the next focus for viewing, ask them, "What is an invisible gas
It will be the first change in the water cycle. Raise your hand when you
hear the name of the invisible gas?"
PAUSE after Kate says, "evaporation" to elicit the
(water vapor, evaporation). Put evaporation on the blackboard. "When
does it do that? "(When water heats up) Solicit inferences from the
class by asking "When have you seen evaporation in your own
(drying up of puddles, drying of clothes on a line, drying of blackboard
after it has been washed, tea kettle steam) "Let's continue the
to see if we were on the right track."
RESUME video to validate inferences.
PAUSE video after "Do you remember...", to give the
the next specific focus for viewing. Ask "What does the water vapor
change to and what is the change called? " (This asks them to define
it using contextual clues.) Resume video.
PAUSE video after Kate says "...they fall as rain." To
help the class focus on viewing, re-ask the following questions:
was that change called? " (condensation) "When does it do that?
"(When it gets cold) New questions to test comprehension of the
segment might be: "What did Kate say a cloud was like? " (being
in a fog) "What happens when clouds cool down? " (They fall as
rain.) Put the word condensation on the board.
REWIND video back to where Kate begins her explanation of the
cycle. Give the students their specific focus for viewing as you ask,
are the 3 parts of the water cycle?"
PAUSE anywhere on the water cycle visual to review the 3 steps.
3 different students come up and point out the 3 parts. With a dry erase
marker, have each put an x on the screen on the part they are telling
When they come to the rain, tell the class that "This is also called
precipitation." Write the 3 names on the screen to label
condensation, and precipitation).
"Now I need to know what the power is that runs the water cycle.
at this picture and tell me if you can find the power that runs
Mute it as you play the rest of the segment with no sound so class can
at it and locate the source of power.
PAUSE the video at the end of the segment where Jeffrey goes over
the water cycle and Kate's face comes on, to ask what the power source
Tell the class that "Everything that uses energy to make changes
have a source of power to fuel it. What is the power source? "
Explain briefly that the sun powers the Earth's climate. Without the sun,
we would not have a water cycle and life on Earth would stop. Help the
to focus on the next reason for viewing as you ask them to: "Next,
listen for another example of water vapor in our life."
STOP video after Kate turns off the kettle on the stove to elicit
the answer to that question. (Plants give off water vapor, too.) You will
need to stop the video here instead of pausing because the time to show
the plant and the subsequent tallying activity takes too long. The VCR
not remain on pause that long.
Show a plant in a baggie (hopefully with water vapor condensing on the
Tell the class they can try this one at home if they have a plant and a
plastic bag. Now there is a cloud in their kitchen. Can Kate make rain?
Who thinks she can? Let us tally to see how many think she can."
on a chalkboard or chart paper how many in the class think she can and
many think Kate cannot. Read totals. Discuss how to tally if your class
is unfamiliar with this math technique.
Reiterate the focus for viewing as you ask, "Now let's see if Kate
can. " RESUME video.
STOP video after Kate says, "...before it's raining all over
our kitchen" to discuss the predictions. You will also need to stop
here instead of pausing as the time to show the next demonstration is too
long for the VCR to remain on pause.
Check for the class' validation of their predictions. "Did she? Do
you think we can make rain in here? " Demo rain as in video using
plate and ice cube tray. "You can try this one at home, too, with an
adult helping you." Recheck the definitions of the three terms.
PAUSE video after Kate asks, "How do you know the drops
coming from inside the glass?" Repeat her question to the class.
RESUME video to validate answers or give correct answer.
PAUSE video after Kate says, "The water cycle is very
Give the class a specific focus for viewing. Ask them to "Now please
listen for 6 reasons why we need rain on Earth. Listen for 6
PAUSE video after song stops ("...fly my kite today") so
class can list 6 reasons we need rain (so plants can grow, animals need
it to drink, humans need it to drink, to keep cool, to wash, to swim
"Can anyone think of a reason we need water that was not listed in
the video? " (flush toilets, wash clothes and cars, etc.)
Now, what would happen if we did not have rain? " Have class
PAUSE after desert sequence and just before thunderstorm to elicit
the terms drought and desert and to check those predictions. "Can
be too much rain? What would too much rain be called?"
RESUME video to check on prediction validity.
STOP video right after Kate says, "You can keep track of how
much it rains at your house with a rain gauge." "Were we right?
" (flood, thunderstorm) "The next part talks about how to make
a rain gauge. We will stop here and we will discuss it tomorrow and make
one in class to use this month when we discuss our weather unit." A
stop here controls the amount of material to be discussed
"Precipitation is the process whereby water in the
falls to the ground. Water can fall as other things besides rain. Who can
tell me some? " (sleet, hail, snow) "You might listen for these
when you read the weather forecast in the paper or hear it on
"Now let's review what we have learned today. What did we study
" (water cycle) "What are the three parts of the water
(Evaporation, condensation, precipitation) Review what each means.
do we need to take care of the water that we have?" (there is a
supply) "What can we do to take care of our freshwater available to
us? " Brainstorm possible ways to save/conserve water at home and at
"Do you remember when Kate showed the calendar with the weather on
it in the video? We will be doing that activity as homework this
"Now to replicate what we've learned about the water cycle in the
we are going to make a water cycle in a bag. Each of you needs one
bag, some permanent markers, and a picture of the water cycle that I have
duplicated for you. Listen and follow directions.
Take one zip-lock bag. Put a picture of the water cycle inside the bag.
Trace over the picture onto the bag with permanent markers. Take the
out. Put a little gravel in the bag. Add a small amount of water. Zip the
bag closed. Hang with masking tape in a sunny window. Remember, the water
cycle has to have a power source to run it (the sun)." The closed
will mimic the water cycle with the water evaporating, condensing, and
in the bag over and over. Make sure each bag is tightly locked.
Assessment or post-test: Ask each child to draw the water cycle on the
of his/her pretest. Remind the class that they need to include the power
source for the water cycle and to label it as such. Ask each child to
two reasons to take care of our water on the bottom of the paper. When
pretest and this side are compared, learning should be
1. Take a field trip to a water treatment plant or a sewage
treatment plant to study how your city cleans up water in our water
2. Invite a speaker from your local water department to come to the
to talk about water and issues in your community.
3. Make posters to post in school to urge others to conserve water.
4. Do the homework assignment on charting the weather at
1. Music: Sing the Water Cycle song to the tune of
"Evaporation, Condensation, Precipitation on my mind. It is called
the water cycle and it happens all the time." Point to a chart of
water cycle or act out the parts as you sing.
2. Math: After the homework has come back or after the class kept
a daily weather calendar for a month, make a bar graph to chart how many
days each kind of weather occurred.
3. Math/Computer: Use a computer program to make a bar, pie, or
simple graph to show class results in number 2. ("Graphers" by
Sunburst is a computer data graphing tool for young students.)
4. Language Arts: Write a brief story on the importance of
water. Draw a picture of the water cycle to illustrate it. You might need
to do some research in the library or in computer encyclopedias.
5. Language Arts: Write a story to explain why you are drinking
same water that the dinosaurs drank. Illustrate it with a drawing of the
6. Language Arts: Make up a crossword puzzle with definitions and
terms we learned in this lesson. Share it with a friend.
7. Language Arts/Careers: Interview someone in the water field and
write a report to give to the class on the importance of water in our
Ask how he/she got into this field and why.
8. Science/Math: Discuss atoms and "bonding". Tell the
class that a water molecule is composed of two Hydrogen atoms and one
atom. Play water molecule tag. Make circles on blue construction paper.
Label some H and some O. Staple on construction paper bands to make
Each child will need one. Play some music. When the music stops, two Hs
must rush to find an O to "bond" with. This forms one water
Later as the class becomes familiar with the game, you can call out,
two water molecules" (4 Hs and 2 Os must "bond"),
water molecules", etc. You can tell the class that it takes two
quadrillion molecules to create one water drop. Write that on the board:
9. Geography: Throw an inflatable globe to a child. Tell the child
to catch it but not to move hands or fingers. Ask the child what is under
the right thumb and then under the left thumb: land or water. Tally the
results. After a few games of this, the class can deduce that there is
water on the Earth than earth. Later you can ask, "Which water?
land?" as the class learns the names of the four oceans and the
Master Teacher: Janet Pommrehn
Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online