Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Water Cycle

Melanie Henderson
Bay District Schools


Students name the three steps of the water cycle and define the terms evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.


The student writes questions and observations about familiar topics, stories, or new experiences.

The student recognizes patterns in weather.


-Microwave or hotplate
-Pie pan
-Clear bowl or jar
-Ice cubes
-Overhead projector


Just make sure to have all the materials ready.


Begin lesson by asking students about rain. Make a KWL chart. Record student answers.
* Why do we need rain?
* How do you feel when it's raining?
* Where does rain come from?
* Do you think it's possible to have rain inside?
* What do you think is needed to create rain?
Tell students: Today we are going to learn about where rain comes from and why it rains.

(Before beginning lesson, already have a water cycle drawn on the board. Pull down the projector screen to cover it up. Have students gather around your table. Have them bring their science journals with them to record what they see.)
1. Have a bowl of hot water and the pie pan with ice cubes on the table.

2. Show students the bowl of water and explain that the first step to rain is some type of water on the ground.

3. The ice cubes represent the air. Air is usually cold.

4. Water invisibly rises into the sky to meet the cold air. Place the pan of ice over the hot water.

5. Ask: What do you think might happen? (Let students record their answers in their journals.)

6. Ask: What does rain fall from? (clouds)

7. Ask: What do you think clouds feel like?

8. Show the bottom of the pan. Ask: What do you see? (water droplets)

9. Put the pan back over the water to let the droplets get bigger.

10. Show the students the droplets again. Ask: What do you think happens when the water droplets get really big? (They fall = rain)

11. Explain to the students: When water rises into the air, which you can't see happen, it mixes with cool air in the sky and forms water droplets. The water droplets huddle close together. When there are enough huddling close they form clouds. When the water droplets in the clouds get too big and heavy, they have to fall. That's what we see when it rains.

12. This is cylce is also known as a weather pattern. It occurs repeatedly.

13. Throughout the lesson, students will recieve feedback to their answers. Allow time for questions and discussion.

14. Have students return to their seats.

1. Use the overhead projector to draw a diagram of the water cycle. Label and explain each part as you go.

2. Explain: When water rises in the air it's called evaporation. You can not see this happen.
When it gets into the air, it hits the cool air and forms water droplets. These water droplets gather together to form clouds. This is called condensation.When the water droplets in the clouds get too heavy and big they fall to the ground. This is called rain or precipitation.
This is the water cycle and it continuously repeats itself. Write the words, evaporation, condensation, and precipitation on the board.

3. Explain: Evaporation comes from water in oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, and even puddles.
Condensation does not always appear in clouds. Show the lid of the bowl and pass around. The droplets on the lid are a form of condensation. Can anyone think of any other forms of condensation? (frost on the ground, dew, fog, etc.)
Pull up the screen to reveal your water cycle. Have students answer the question, Why does it rain? What is the process that makes rain? Have Students answer the question by making their own drawings of the water cycle, labeling each part and writing 1-3 sentences about the process. You may choose to have them draw this in their science journals. Ask students if there are any questions. Help students who get stuck. Display drawings in the room.


Assess student journals notes and drawings for water cycle, naming the three steps of the water cycle, defining the terms, evaporation, condensation and precipitation, and answering these questions: How does it rain? (Students should describe the water cycle.) What makes up a weather pattern? (Students should indicate that the water cyle in this case makes the pattern over and over.)


Keep track of the weather for a month on a plain calendar, drawing weather symbols (sun, clouds, rain, lightning bolt, etc.)

Web Links

Web supplement for The Water Cycle
Water Cycle

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