Teaching the water cycle is easy. Just use a solid learning cycle – instruction and inquiry, practice, and assessment. Your students will love the baggie project. You’ll love their mastery of the concept.
Ms. Sneed Enjoys Teaching the Water Cycle
Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, pulled out her water cycle materials. “We’ll work on this next,” she said to her co-teacher.
Mr. Frank grabbed a baggie from the folder. “This is one of my favorite water science experiments,” he said. “Let’s get started.”
Creating the Water Cycle in a Baggie
Ms. Sneed picked up a pencil and began writing in her plan book. “Next Monday kids can explore the interactive diagram from the USGS. Then each child can create a baggie diagram.”
“Perfect,” Mr. Frank replied as he penciled it into his own plan book. “First, they’ll draw a picture of the water cycle on the baggie with a permanent marker. Second, they’ll add a little water to the baggie. I always like to add a little blue food coloring. It lets kids see the water better. Finally, we’ll seal the zippers and tape them to the window. When the Sun hits them – bam! Instant hydrology lesson!”
Teaching the Water Cycle Vocabulary
“The following day we can reinforce vocabulary with this pictorial list,” Ms. Sneed said. She slid a page to her teaching partner.
Mr. Frank took a look at the comprehensive list:
- Evaporation – Water from the oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, and even mud puddles rises into the atmosphere as water vapor.
- Transpiration – Water from the plants rises into the atmosphere as water vapor.
- Condensation – As water vapor in the atmosphere cools, it combines with particles of dust and forms cloud droplets. As more water vapor condenses, the droplets grow in size.
- Precipitation – When cloud droplets have grown to a size where they can no longer escape the pull of gravity, they fall to Earth as rain, sleet, snow, hail, etc.
- Percolation – When forms of precipitation fall to Earth, water infiltrates the soil.
- Plant uptake – Plants pull water from the soil into their roots.
- Runoff – When the soil can hold no more water, it begins to stream downhill.
- River discharge – Rainwater flows from smaller tributaries to larger tributaries to rivers. It travels downstream in the water until it is discharged into a lake or ocean.
“Yep, this is a great way in to integrate vocabulary with science.”
“That same day, we can go over another diagram of the cycle. The author has provided digital versions – Easel Activities and Google Slides – so we don’t need to make copies of either review sheet.”
Practicing Vocabulary and Diagrams
“On Wednesday, kids can practice with these worksheets. Again, digital versions are available.”
“That seems pretty straightforward,” said Mr. Frank. “Do you think they’ll be ready for a quiz on Thursday?”
Ms. Sneed nodded. “Yep. Quick, easy, and also available in digital versions.”
Enjoy Teaching the Water Cycle
The two teachers smiled. Nothing like quick, easy planning!
“This will work well with our other hydrology lessons,” Mr. Frank said. He looked through his file and read off the unit names: the hydrosphere, properties of water, ocean waves and currents, and water pollution. I can’t wait to put this all together!”