the water cycle
Studying the water cycle opens up a host of science topics for students to learn about, including the processes of evaporation, condensation, precipitation and infiltration that help comprise the water cycle, as well as topics such as clouds and weather, atmosphere and climatology, glaciers and oceans, and aquifers and groundwater.
All the water on earth is the same water that has been here throughout history! Water is never created; it is continuously cycling in a process called the water cycle. This cycle describes the continuous changes of water on, in, and above the earth as it transforms from liquid to vapor to ice over and over again. All life on earth relies on the continuous functioning of the water cycle, and earth has been cycling its water successfully for billions of years.
Enhanced Learning Activities
- Cloud Observation Journal (Grades K-2)
- Clouds Are Oh So Different (Grades 3-5)
- Cloud in a Bag (Grades K-5)
- Cloud Poetry (Grades K-2)
- Dino Memory Match Game (Grades K-2)
- Exploring the Water Cycle Through Cross-age Teaching (Grades 3-5)
- Water Cycling (Grades 3-5)
- Water Phases of Matter (Grades 3-5)
- Water Cycle Kickball (Grades K-8)
- Dive Into the Water Cycle (Grades 3-8)
- Climate Change and Changing Weather (Grades 3-12)
- How Does Climate Change Affect Animals? (Grades 3-8)
- How Does Climate Change Affect Sea Levels? (Grades 6-8)
- Greenhouse Gases: The Climate Change Culprit (Grades 7-12)
Additional Water Cycle Resources
Additional Resources for Elementary:
- USGS Water Science School: The Water Cycle: Excellent illustration of the water cycle and its components.
- USEPA's Water Cycle Animation: An excellent, interactive animated introduction to the water cycle for young students.
- NASA’s Precipitation Education site: Brief, accessible summaries of the earth’s water cycle.
- NOAA’s Water Cycle page: Multiple links to educational lessons and real world data.
- Kid's Crossing from University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR): Filled with games, fun fact sheets, and simplified information related to the water cycle, weather, and other topics.
- Project WET: Audio narration and online quizzes related to all things water!
- Droplets: The Kiwi Kids Cloud Identification Guide: This incredibly detailed guide to cloud identification from The GLOBE program-New Zealand and NASA is perfect for older elementary students to use while learning to identify clouds in their own backyards.
Additional Resources for Middle School & High School:
- NOVA Cloud Lab: Series of videos and interactive activities as well as a Cloud Typing interactive challenge, which quizzes students on cloud classification.
- NASA’s Meteorology: An Educator’s Resource for Inquiry-Based Learning for Grades 5-9: Detailed resource for middle school educators offering a unit on meteorology.
- American Meteorological Society: Extensive list of resources for teachers and students interested in learning more about weather.
- National Geographic offers several educational activity ideas on their website, separated by topic, including a collection called “Precipitation.” This collection includes activity ideas for multiple grade levels on topics such as global precipitation, cloud seeding experiment, water cycle activities, and water and air quality activities.