Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Rain Patterns

Jennifer Slichter
Santa Rosa District Schools


This is the second lesson in the unit Weather Trackers. Students have the opportunity to work in groups to draw the rain cycle and make their own “movie' using a large cardboard milk carton and heavy white paper. Students are assessed on their ability to identify the pattern of the rain cycle and to sequence the events in order.


The student knows examples of solids, liquids, and gases.

The student knows how to sort organisms, objects, and events based on patterns.


-Book: [Magic School Bus Visits Water Works] (go to to order)
-Hair dryer
-Large paper cut-out of a pond
-Large paper cut-out of a sun
-Large paper cut-out of clouds
-Word cards labeled sun, pond, clouds
-Mason jar
-Clear plastic wrap
-Poster board, paper and markers. (Enough for each group to have one poster paper and markers per 4 students.)
-Vocabulary word/picture chart (optional)


1. Check out or borrow [Magic School Bus Visits the Water Works.]
2. Have a small chalkboard.
3. Prepare paper cut-outs of sun, pond and clouds.
4. Label word cards with words sun, pond, clouds.
5. Locate a mason jar.
6. Borrow a small microwave.
7. Put ice in ice chest.
8. Obtain clear plastic wrap.
9. Buy and bring to class poster board, paper, and markers or any other materials listed needed for this lesson plan.
10.Have word/picture vocabulary chart started in lesson one. (optional)


1. Introduce the lesson by reading [Magic School Bus Visits Water Works.] Tell the class that today they are going to learn why it rains on Earth. Rain has a pattern called a water cycle. NOTE: The book can be read aloud and discussed during your class Read Aloud time or in small groups prior to beginning the science lesson. Place the book in a center or make it available to students to look at during the day. If the book is read separately from the science lesson, conduct a brief review for students prior to doing procedure #3.

2. If doing the unit Weather Trackers, quickly review the previous lesson on matter, where we learned that heat is what turns liquid into a gas. Review different forms of matter using the terms solid, liquid, and gas. Example: Is the ice cube a solid? Is the water in an ocean a liquid? Is steam a gas?

3. Ask students to tell you what object outside gives the Earth heat. (Sun)

4. Ask students to tell what happens to water as it is being heated. (Melts and turns into steam. It evaporates)

5. Ask if water is being heated, which way does the steam rise--up or down? (Steam rises) Ask students if they think heat will affect the drying time of an object.

6. Demonstrate how heat affects the drying time of water. Wet two small portions of the chalkboard with water. Have students predict how many minutes it will take the water to dry one wet spot on the chalkboard if you dry it using a hair dryer on high. Ask class to raise their hands if they think it will take 30 sec., 2 min., or longer. Make predictions and record results. (Note: You may need to demonstrate how long 30 seconds are, and how long two minutes are.)

7. Dry one portion of the wet chalkboard with the hair dryer. Discuss how heat affects the drying rate of the chalkboard. What two things helped dry it faster? Get volunteers to answer heat and wind. Refer back to the recorded predictions and praise those who chose the shorter drying time, reinforcing orally that heat affect drying time by speeding it up.

8. Hold up a construction paper cut-out of a yellow sun and have a student volunteer tape the sun high on the board. Hold up a blue construction paper cut-out of a body of water and have a student volunteer tape it under the sun at the bottom of the board. Tell the class that this could be an ocean, pond, or river. Hold up a construction paper cut-out of grass and have a student volunteer tape this beside the water. Hold up a white construction paper cut-out of a cloud and have a volunteer tape this under the sun.

9. Point to the visual chart as you discuss the water cycle of rain. Reinforce the following: (Point to the sun) The sun warms the water on Earth. (Point to water) The sun warms the ponds, river, oceans, puddles, etc. As the water on Earth gets warmer and hotter, water vapor rises in the sky. Remind the class that heat dries. When the vapors rise and cool, they condense into tiny drops of water that form clouds. Clouds are made (point to cloud). When water vapors in the clouds get heavy, the vapors turn into liquid and fall back to Earth (Point to Earth). The water as rain falls back into the ponds, rivers, lakes and oceans and puddles, the sun shines and heats water again and vapors rise to the sky and form clouds. When the clouds get too heavy with water vapor, it will rain and the rain cycle is repeated. At this time, allow students to discuss, repeat, and ask any questions. Add the appropriate words/pictures to the vocabulary chart started in lesson one of this unit.

10. Explain the concept of condensation by doing this experiment. Cover hot water in a mason jar with clear wrap and put ice on top. Explain that the "foggy" appearance taking place is steam rising. This is called condensation, when water evaporates and condenses into drops of water.

11. Student volunteers come to the front and take turns pointing to the chart and explaining the water cycle of rain. Each person will explain the drawing in order, to make sure that he or she understands the pattern of the rain cycle and are able to sequence the events correctly.

12. Divide the students into groups of four. Give each group a piece of poster paper and markers. Tell each group to draw pictures of the water cycle. Instruct students to take turns explaining the sequence of the rain cycle to their peers. (Note: An optional activity would be to go to the following Website by Kid Zone. There are printable coloring sheets of the rain cycle, as well as color sheets for the vocab used in this lesson. These could also be used as homework or center work for reinforcement.)

13. Walk around and monitor groups and provide feedback.

14. Students will be assessed on their ability to sequence the rain cycle events in a pattern.

15. Students will be assessed on their posters/sheets. Each group will complete the assignment and each individual will describe the sequence of events in the rain cycle in order to form a rain cycle pattern. Students who are unable to correctly describe the order of events accurately will be given more opportunities to master necessary skills in the future.

16. Bring students back individually during the day to perform this activity and assess with the attached rubric. Also write the words, water vapor, rain, and ice cube on a piece of paper and ask students to point to the word that describes water in a solid form (ice cube), a liquid form (rain) and a gas form (water vapor).


Each individual describes the sequence of events in the rain cycle in order to form a rain cycle pattern. Students who are unable to correctly describe the order of events accurately will be given more opportunities to master necessary skills in the future.

(Students should perform this activity individually as you have time). Write the words ice cube, rain and water vapor on a piece of paper and have students point to the correct word as you ask the questions. Make sure students can read the words independently prior to asking the following questions. Keep a list of students who have difficulty since they will need additional practice. Ask: "What is an example of water in a solid form? (ice cube) What is an example of water in a liquid form? (rain) What is an example of water in a gas form?" (water vapor) Students are evaluated using a rubric. (See Associated File)


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page of by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

2. Check out books on types of weather for your class library. Peer teach students who are having difficulty grasping the concept of the water cycle. This could include ESOL or ESE students.

Attached Files

Rubric for Rain Patterns     File Extension:  pdf
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