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Lesson Plans

Subject: Science
Grade Level: 4-7
Time Allotment: Four to five 45-minute class periods


What is the water cycle?

Step 1STEP 1

Write the word "cycle" on the board. Students write responses to the following questions in their science journals:
  • What images are suggested by the world "cycle"?

  • What shapes best represent cycles?

  • Have you ever heard of the water cycle? What do you know about it?
Step 2STEP 2

Students share out their responses and create a KWL chart on the water cycle on the board or chart paper (In the "K" section of the chart, students will list things that they know about the water cycle. In the "W" section, they will list things that they want to know about the water cycle, and in the "L" section of the chart, students will list what they have learned about the water cycle.)

Display the chart in the room and have students add new information to the chart at the conclusion of each lesson on the water cycle.

(Internet) (one 45-minute lesson)

If a class set of Internet-ready computers is not available, teacher can use one computer and a projector.

In this activity, students will view a presentation about the water cycle and critique an illustration of the water cycle.

Step 1STEP 1

Ask students to go to The Water Cycle, which demonstrates an interactive animation that lets them control the water cycle as they learn. Have them click on the "Auto" button found in the oval in the lower left of the screen to automatically begin the animation.

While viewing the presentation, students take notes using guided questions like the following:
  • When and why does it precipitation occur?

  • Where does the rainwater go once it reaches ground?

  • How do many people acquire drinking water?

  • How does the sun affect water?

  • What happens to the vapor in the air when it gets cold?
Step 2STEP 2

In small groups of three or four, students share their answers and create a flow chart demonstrating the water cycle.

Share responses as a class and create a class water cycle flow chart on chart paper to display on the wall for the remainder of the unit.

Step 3STEP 3

Pass out the illustration of Thirstin's Water Cycle Adventure.

Using guided questions, students in small groups discuss:
  • Does the illustration do a good job of showing the water cycle?

  • Can you think of ways that it can be improved?

Return to the KWL chart and have students add new information.

(Three days: One to build and two for observations)

In this activity, students will build a model of the water cycle.

Step 1STEP 1

Working in groups, have students build a Water Cycle Model.
  1. Fill the jar with small rocks first and then add the sand.

  2. Add the plant.

  3. Fill a small cup with water and place it in the jar.

  4. Put the lid securely on the jar.

  5. Place the model in a sunny windowsill and observe.

Step 2STEP 2

Have student predict in their science journals what will happen to their model as it warms on a sunny windowsill. (Day one)

Have groups watch and record in their science journals what happens to their model as it warms on a sunny windowsill. (Day one, two, and three)

Step 3STEP 3

Conclusion (first day only): Share predictions

In their own words, they should describe how the model explains what happens in the water cycle. (Day three)

For teachers: Students should find that at first there is condensation on the glass and then the water will drip down the sides. When they pull the lid off there should be pools of water on the lid.


Step 1STEP 1

Using the Reflection Questions, ask students to analyze the model.

Step 2STEP 2

Conclusion (Day 2 and 3): Discuss what happens to the model and add to KWL chart


Brainstorm and discuss
  • How have humans used the water cycle for their own benefit?
Extension Lessons for all ages can be found in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's The Water Sourcebooks.

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