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Water Cycle Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

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Instructor
Stephanie Matalone

Stephanie taught high school science and math and has a Master's Degree in Secondary Education.

Expert Contributor
Jolene Chisholm

Jolene has a PhD in Microbiology & Immunology from Dalhousie University. Jolene has taught university courses in genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry.

This lesson goes over how water moves through the environment. It reviews the different parts of the water cycle, including evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Updated: 07/07/2020

The Water Cycle

Water rains down to the earth on stormy days. It gets soaked up into the ground. Water movement is part of the water cycle. The water cycle is important to all living things on the earth!

There are other cycles in your life. Your daily routine is a cycle: You wake up. You go to school. You ride the bus home. You go to soccer practice. You eat dinner. You go to bed. These events are part of a cycle. This cycle repeats itself every weekday. The water cycle is also a set of repeated events that happen over and over again.

Evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection are the repeated events in the water cycle. These events happen over and over again.

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  • 0:04 The Water Cycle
  • 0:41 Evaporation
  • 1:13 Condensation
  • 1:34 Precipitation
  • 1:49 Collection
  • 2:08 Lesson Summary
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Evaporation

Water is stored in bodies of water, like lakes. Water floats up to the top of the lake. The water turns into a gas and the gas rises up into the air. This happens because there is less water in the air than in the lake. Water does not like being around too much other water. Water wants to go where there is less water.

When liquid water is turned into a gas, this is during evaporation. The gas is called water vapor. Leave a glass of water out overnight. You will see the level drop. This is an example of evaporation. The water in the glass will turn into vapor. The vapor will be in the air.

Condensation

Water gets cold as it floats in the air. The gas turns back into a liquid, and the liquid becomes a cloud. This is called condensation.

Condensation happens on the outside of a cup of soda with ice. The cup looks like it's sweating.The sweat comes from water vapor from the air. The vapor gets cold when it hits the icy surface of the cup. The vapor turns into a liquid!

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Additional Activities

Overview:

Young learners will design and create their own miniature water cycle model using commonly available materials to demonstrate their understanding of this phenomenon.

Get Your Learner Interested by Asking Questions:

Questions may be initiated by the learner or educator. They are intended to get the learner thinking about the water cycle so they may use this information to create their own miniature water cycle model.

  • What are the different forms of water in the water cycle? Where would we find them in everyday life? Gaseous water (clouds, fog, humidity, breath on a cold day), liquid water (rain, bodies of water, run-off, puddle), solid water (snow, ice, frost)
  • How do the different forms of water affect us in our daily lives? Think about choices in clothing and footwear, outdoor activities, safety considerations, etc.
  • Take an outdoor exploration walk and ask, "Where could we look for water outside? Can we find natural and human-made water sources in our community?" Natural - ponds, lakes, streams, puddles, etc. Human-made - water fountain, reservoir, ditches, swimming pool.
  • How does the season affect the forms of water we see outside? Winter - solid forms of water (snow, sleet, ice), summer - liquid forms of water (rain, mist, puddles)

Activity:

Now that your learner is engaged in the concept of the water cycle, gather some simple materials to build a miniature water cycle model.

Materials:

  • Rubber band
  • Large bowl
  • Mug
  • Plastic wrap
  • Hot (but not boiling) water (can be heated in a kettle, stove, or microwave with supervision)
  • Ice cubes

Method:

  1. Place the mug in the middle of a large bowl.
  2. Cautiously fill the bowl approximately two thirds full with hot water. Do not put any water in the mug.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band.
  4. Place ice cubes on top of plastic wrap above the mug.
  5. Observe.

Can you identify where evaporation, condensation, and precipitation are occurring? The learner should notice that the hot water evaporates and condenses on the plastic wrap, especially where the ice cubes are located. As sufficient vapor condenses, it forms droplets that can be collected in the mug below, simulating rainfall.

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