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Water Cycle

Teacher Guide by Oliver Smith

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Water Cycle Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Water Cycle Include:

Have you ever looked out of a window on a stormy day and wondered where all the water falling from the sky has come from? The water cycle is a collection of processes that recycles water from the ocean.

Water Cycle Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Label the Water Cycle


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The water cycle has no starting point, but this guide will start its description in the ocean.

The ocean is the largest store of water in earth. From here, but also rivers and lakes, water is evaporated when the surface is heated by the sun. This warm, wet air rises because it is less dense than the other air around it. Higher up in the atmosphere the water condenses to form clouds. Precipitation happens when the water cools and forms bigger droplets. Depending on the temperature, these fall as rain, frozen rain, snow, and hail.

Some of this precipitation falls straight back into water and some other precipitation falls onto the land. Some of this water flows across the surface of the ground; this is called surface runoff. This happens when the water can’t permeate into the ground. Other water infiltrates the ground and travels underground. This is known as groundwater flow. Eventually all this water runs into streams and lakes, and ultimately back into the sea for the water to go through this cycle again.

Some of the water gets absorbed by plants which they use for photosynthesis. Most plants get their water from the soil using their roots. The plants then need to move this water to their leaves where photosynthesis takes place. They do this using tubes in their stems called xylem. The process used to move the water is called transpiration.

You can differentiate this activity by making this activity easier or more difficult by adding or removing information.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

You are going to use your knowledge of the water cycle to create your own model on Storyboard That.

  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Find an appropriate scene from the "Outdoor" or "Country & Rustic" categories.
  3. Use arrows to show the movement of water in the water cycle.
  4. Label the main parts of the water cycle with text and arrows.
  5. Add extra information about the water cycle with text boxes. You should describe what’s happening at each stage.
  6. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Water Cycle Vocabulary


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Have your students put key vocabulary into practice. One of the things students can find really difficult is using scientific vocabulary correctly and in the appropriate context. Using a visual representation or visual examples as well as a written one can really help students understand abstract concepts.


Evaporation

If a liquid is heated, it changes to a gas. This change is called evaporation.


Condensation

If a gas is cooled, it changes to a liquid. This change is called condensation.


Precipitation

Precipitation is water that falls from the clouds. There are four types of precipitation: rain, hail, frozen rain, and snow.


Groundwater flow

Water that has infiltrated the ground is called groundwater flow.


Transpiration

The process where water evaporates from the surface of plant leaves is called transpiration.


Other terms include:

  • Rain
  • Frozen Rain
  • Snow
  • Clouds
  • Aquifer
  • Glacier
  • Surface Runoff
  • Infiltration
  • River

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of key scientific vocabulary by creating visualizations.

  1. Choose five vocabulary words and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary and write it under the cell in a complete sentence.
  3. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items /li>
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to give examples of the words.
  4. Save and submit your storyboard. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Water Cycle Discussion Storyboard


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Discussion storyboards are a great way to get your students talking about their ideas in Science. They allow students to critique and evaluate different viewpoints without upsetting other students. This activity can be used at the start of the topic to elicit any misconceptions students may have.

At first, show students a discussion storyboard like the one below. Ask them to look at the problem on the discussion storyboard. It shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. Students should think about whom they think is the most correct and be prepared to explain why that person is correct.

Here are some other ideas to use these discussion storyboards in your lessons.

  1. Students add another cell on the end of the example you’ve given them to explain whom they think is correct and why.
  2. Students create their own discussion storyboards to share with peers on the current topic.

Note that the template in this assignment is blank. After clicking "Copy Assignment", add your desired problem and solutions to match the needs of your students.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Read the discussion storyboard that shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. You are going to give your opinion on whom you think is correct and explain why.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Add another cell at the end of the row.
  3. Use text and images to explain whom you think is correct and why.
  4. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Water Cycle Narrative


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Get your students to demonstrate their understanding of the water cycle in a fun and creative way by telling the story of a droplet of water going through the water cycle. Students may start their narrative at any point in the water cycle. Modify this activity by giving students a copy of the storyboard from showing the labeled water cycle.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the water cycle by creating a narrative storyboard. Tell the story of a water droplet and explain what happens as the droplet moves through the water cycle. You can choose which part of the water cycle you want to start with.

You could put faces on your water droplet and even give them names!


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Create your narrative storyboard. Add cells as needed.
  3. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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The water cycle is essential for all life on Earth. It is a collection of processes which moves water cyclically. 97% of the world’s water is stored in oceans and seas, 2% is stored in ice, and 1% is fresh water in the air or in rivers and lakes.


Review your students' understanding of the states of matter by trying some activities from the States of Matter teacher guide.

The water cycle has no starting point. In this guide we are going to start with the ocean. The ocean covers 76.5% of the Earth’s surface. The oceans of the world absorb a huge amount of the sun's energy. As the ocean absorbs the energy, it heats up. Some of this energy causes the water to evaporate. This warm, moist water is less dense than the cooler air around it. This less dense air rises, and as it rises, cools. This water then condenses to form clouds. Water forms larger droplets and will fall back down to earth. What state it falls to earth as depends on the temperature. If it is really cold, the precipitation will fall as snow, frozen rain, or hail, but if it is warmer, it will fall as rain. Some precipitation falls back into bodies of water and the rest falls onto land. Some that falls as snow can build up as icecaps and glaciers; this water can stay frozen for thousands of years. Some of the water that hits the ground runs into rivers. This is called surface runoff. Water may flow into lakes while other will flow into rivers and then ultimately back into the ocean. Other water infiltrates the ground and travels underwater. Some of it is stored underground and some of this water flows back into the ocean.

The water cycle plays a vital role in the survival of plants. Plants need water for photosynthesis. Most plants get water into their leaves, the location where photosynthesis mainly takes place. In order to move this water, the plant uses small tubes in the the plant's stem called xylem. The plant uses a process called transpiration to move water. Transpiration is the process where water on the plants leaves evaporates. Temperature, humidity, light, and wind speed can all affect the rate of transpiration.


Essential Questions for the Water Cycle

  1. Where does rain come from?
  2. What causes rivers to flow?
  3. Why is rain not salty?
  4. What are the major steps in the Water Cycle?

Additional Water Cycle Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Compare how water cycles differ in different parts of the world using a T-Chart.
  2. Make a storyboard to describe what the world would be like if the water cycle didn’t exist.
  3. Have your students make a poster to encourage people to reduce the amount of water they use.

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•   (English) Water Cycle   •   (Español) El Ciclo del Agua   •   (Français) Cycle de L'eau   •   (Deutsch) Wasserkreislauf   •   (Italiana) Ciclo Dell'acqua   •   (Nederlands) Waterfiets   •   (Português) Ciclo da Água   •   (עברית) מחזור מים   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) دورة المياه   •   (हिन्दी) जल चक्र   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Круговорот Воды   •   (Dansk) Vand Cykel   •   (Svenska) Vattnets Kretslopp   •   (Suomi) Veden Kierto   •   (Norsk) Vann Sykkel   •   (Türkçe) Su Döngüsü   •   (Polski) Rower Wodny   •   (Româna) Ciclu de apă   •   (Ceština) Koloběh Vody   •   (Slovenský) Vodný Cyklus   •   (Magyar) víz Körforgása   •   (Hrvatski) Ciklus Vode   •   (български) Воден Цикъл   •   (Lietuvos) Vandens Ciklas   •   (Slovenščina) Vodni Krog   •   (Latvijas) Ūdens Cikls   •   (eesti) Veeringe