Water Cycle Lesson Plan & Games

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Learning about the water cycle can be fun, especially when you provide games and activities to back up key concepts. Use this Study.com lesson plan to teach the stages of the water cycle, then use games and activities to practice and apply skills.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe the water cycle
  • define key terms
  • apply and demonstrate knowledge and understanding in activities


  • 45 minutes - 1 hour plus time for experiment and games


  • index cards with key vocabulary words, used for several games and activities
  • clear glass or pitcher of water
  • paper towels
  • zipper baggies

Key Vocabulary

  • water cycle
  • hydrologic cycle
  • groundwater
  • hydrosphere
  • evaporation
  • condensation
  • precipitation
  • runoff
  • groundwater
  • transpiration

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.9

Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.1

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.


  • Begin by showing students the glass or pitcher of water. Demonstrate how clean it is by pouring into another container or allowing students to see close up. Pose the question 'How old is this water?' Have students do a flash draft writing and discuss answers.
  • Tell students they will be learning about the water cycle. Share prior knowledge and preview key vocabulary.
  • Have students create an entry in their science journals titled 'The Water Cycle'. Ask students to write key terms and assign groups the task of defining during the video.
  • Show the video lesson The Water Cycle: Precipitation, Condensation & Evaporation. Allow students to take notes or print copies of the transcript and allow students to follow along.
  • Pause the video at 1:09 and allow students to copy the diagram of the water cycle.
  • Pause again at the following intervals to discuss the stages of the water cycle in more depth. Allow students to highlight specific parts of their water cycle in different colors as they learn.
    • Evaporation - 2:23
    • Condensation - 3:15
    • Precipitation - 4:24
  • After the video, define key terms together and have students record in notebooks. Write on chart paper or put on word wall.
  • Discuss:
    • What is the difference between fresh and salt water? Which is there more of?
    • Only 1% of earth's water is fresh. Why? What does this mean?
    • How is the water cycle important to weather and climate?
    • What happens to water that isn't part of the water cycle?
    • Give examples of the three stages of the water cycle.


  • Create your own water cycle in a mini-demonstration. Have each student place a wet paper towel in a large zipper baggie and place in a sunny spot. Allow students to write a hypothesis and create space for observations over the next week. Have them diagram how this demonstrates the water cycle.


  • Water Theater - Divide students into groups and have them draw different task cards labeled with key terms. Ask students to act out the water cycle as a play or visual representation. Provide materials if available, like colored paper or poster board.
  • Who's There? - Use task cards to play charades with key terms. Students pull a card and act out the word. Divide students into partner pairs or small groups to play as teams.
  • Order Up - Give each student a task card with a key term, but don't allow them to see it. You can place on backs or foreheads. Students need to arrange themselves in order of the water cycle without telling each other which term others have.
  • Def-Jam - Assign key terms to students and ask them to write a poem or song using the definition or description of the word. Students perform their definition and others ring in to guess. Divide into groups or partner pairs to play.


  • Dig more deeply into concepts by using our related lessons below.
  • Design a longer-term experiment demonstrating the water cycle by creating a terrarium. Place a notebook nearby and have students rotate responsibility to observe throughout the year.
  • Visit a water treatment plant. Discuss how water is 'recycled' to be usable.
  • Volunteer in your local stream clean efforts.

Related Lessons

Looking for more resources? Science worksheets let students practice concepts while you check for understanding.