There are many activities that can be done to help children understand the water cycle. Two that I have chosen to include are a demonstration of how the water cycle works, and an experiment to test how long it takes water to evaporate. The first activity is meant to be done when explaining the water cycle to the children as a demonstration. The second activity is an experiment that can be used as a culminating activity in which the students can apply what they have learned about the water cycle. The second activity, and any writing done for it, can also be used as an informal assessment tool.
Water Cycle Activity 1
This experiment should be done during or after teaching students about the water cycle. It will give them a concrete example and a visual model of evaporation and condensation.
This activity will help students to understand the water cycle using a visual model.
A small cup
1. The teacher will fill the cup with water and cover it with plastic wrap.
2. The cup will be placed in a sunny spot (inside or outside).
3. After a while students will begin to notices small water droplets on the sides of the cup and on the plastic wrap on the top. This may take several hours depending on the weather so plan to set up the experiment and finish it at a later time.
4. The teacher will explain that we can't see the water in the air in the cup because it has turned into vapor, but when it reaches the top of the cup it cools on the plastic wrap and turns back to water droplets. The plastic wrap works in a way that is similar to our atmosphere, keeping water in and helping it to cool and condense. Students will be able to watch as water droplets move to the same area of the plastic wrap and drop. This is condensation and precipitation.
5. Students will draw conclusions in their science journals about what is happening with the cups and why.