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Grades 2 - 3


The water cycle? What is it? This lesson introduces students to the major components and vocabulary of the water cycle through interactive use of video. It culminates with the class making a water cycle in a baggie and discussing care of our water.
ITV Series
"Take a Look #118: Rain"
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
For teacher:
For each student:
Pre-Viewing Activities
Who has heard of something called the water cycle? Even if you 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 know 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 paper 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 review 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 fill 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 called 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 were here. None of it escapes into space. Some of this water on Earth is available 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 Earth."

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 into 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 aside. "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 world. 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 Education, Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan.) This allows some review of fractions and of measuring.
Focus Viewing
To give the class a main focus for viewing this video, ask them 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 three 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 specific responsibility while viewing the first segment. Ask the class, "Water 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."

RESUME video.

PAUSE as soon as a child raises a hand or after Kate tells the answer ("...back to a liquid again") to check on the class' answer (the 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 again.)

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 again." Give the class a specific focus for viewing as you ask them to "Listen again for the main idea of the water cycle and how it works."

RESUME video.

PAUSE after Kate says, "...back to a liquid again" to recheck 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 called? It will be the first change in the water cycle. Raise your hand when you hear the name of the invisible gas?"

RESUME video.

PAUSE after Kate says, "evaporation" to elicit the answer (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 life?" (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 video to see if we were on the right track."

RESUME video to validate inferences.

PAUSE video after "Do you remember...", to give the class 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: "What was that change called? " (condensation) "When does it do that? "(When it gets cold) New questions to test comprehension of the previous 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 water cycle. Give the students their specific focus for viewing as you ask, "What are the 3 parts of the water cycle?"

PAUSE anywhere on the water cycle visual to review the 3 steps. Have 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 about. When they come to the rain, tell the class that "This is also called precipitation." Write the 3 names on the screen to label (evaporation, condensation, and precipitation).

"Now I need to know what the power is that runs the water cycle. Look at this picture and tell me if you can find the power that runs it."

Mute it as you play the rest of the segment with no sound so class can look 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 is. Tell the class that "Everything that uses energy to make changes must have a source of power to fuel it. What is the power source? " (sun

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 class to focus on the next reason for viewing as you ask them to: "Next, listen for another example of water vapor in our life."

RESUME video.

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 will not remain on pause that long.

Show a plant in a baggie (hopefully with water vapor condensing on the baggie). 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." Tally on a chalkboard or chart paper how many in the class think she can and how 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 hot 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.

RESUME video.

PAUSE video after Kate asks, "How do you know the drops aren't coming from inside the glass?" Repeat her question to the class. Elicit an answer(s).

RESUME video to validate answers or give correct answer.

PAUSE video after Kate says, "The water cycle is very important." 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 reasons."

RESUME video.

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 in-recreation). "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 predict. RESUME play.

PAUSE after desert sequence and just before thunderstorm to elicit the terms drought and desert and to check those predictions. "Can there 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 today.
"Precipitation is the process whereby water in the atmosphere 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 TV."

"Now let's review what we have learned today. What did we study today? " (water cycle) "What are the three parts of the water cycle?" (Evaporation, condensation, precipitation) Review what each means. "Why do we need to take care of the water that we have?" (there is a finite 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 school.

"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 month."

"Now to replicate what we've learned about the water cycle in the video, we are going to make a water cycle in a bag. Each of you needs one zip-lock 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 picture 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 bag will mimic the water cycle with the water evaporating, condensing, and precipitating 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 back 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 list two reasons to take care of our water on the bottom of the paper. When the pretest and this side are compared, learning should be evident.
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 cycle.

2. Invite a speaker from your local water department to come to the classroom 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 home.
1. Music: Sing the Water Cycle song to the tune of Clementine. "Evaporation, Condensation, Precipitation on my mind. It is called the water cycle and it happens all the time." Point to a chart of the 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 other 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 conserving 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 the same water that the dinosaurs drank. Illustrate it with a drawing of the water cycle.

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 community. 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 Oxygen atom. Play water molecule tag. Make circles on blue construction paper. Label some H and some O. Staple on construction paper bands to make headbands. 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 molecule. Later as the class becomes familiar with the game, you can call out, "Form two water molecules" (4 Hs and 2 Os must "bond"), "three water molecules", etc. You can tell the class that it takes two million quadrillion molecules to create one water drop. Write that on the board: 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!

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 more water on the Earth than earth. Later you can ask, "Which water? Which land?" as the class learns the names of the four oceans and the seven continents.

Master Teacher: Janet Pommrehn

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