Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Where Does Water Come From: The Water Cycle
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Learners will develop an understanding of the water cycle.  They will then use this knowledge to create a tactile model of the water cycle and then relate these ideas to the importance of water conservation.


One hour class period; One fifteen-minute class period


The learner will:

  • discuss the water cycle.
  • identify key components of the water cycle.
  • state why water conservation is important in relation to the water cycle.
  • demonstrate an understanding that water conservation is an act of stewardship for the Earth.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.



  • The Magic School Bus Wet All Over : A Book About The Water Cycle by: Pat Relf, Illustrated by: Carolyn Bracken (see bibliographic references)
  • Process Signs: Condensation, Evaporation and Precipitation (Attachment One)
  • Water Cycle Handout (Attachment Two); one for the teacher and one for each child
  • Water Cycle Cut-outs (Attachment Three); copy on cardstock one for each child
  • Water Cycle arrows (Attachment Four); one copy for large diagram
  • Blue, Yellow and Brown construction paper
  • Sand and grass clippings (optional)
  • Cotton balls (Stretch out the cotton ball to form “clouds”)
  • Crayons/colored pencils/markers
  • White glue
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
Handout 1
Water Cycle Process Signs
Handout 2
Water Cycle Handout
Handout 3
Water Cycle Cutouts
Handout 4
Water Cycle Arrows

Teacher Preparation:

See the lesson adaptation at the bottom of the page. There is a fun suggestion from a teacher to help the students practice the concepts.

Instructional Procedure(s):

Day One
Anticipatory Set:
Ask learners if they have ever seen rain.  Another word for rain is precipitation.  Where does rain come from?  How does it get into the cloud?  We are going to listen to a story about the Water Cycle.  Let’s be good listeners and see what this story tells us about water and how it moves.

  • The Magic School Bus Wet All Over: A Book About The Water Cycle.  While reading be sure to emphasize “condensation” “evaporation” and “precipitation”.  These are the major points in the water cycle.
  • When the story is finished, ask learners to recall the three steps water goes through (evaporation, condensation and precipitation) and what they are.  Use the process signs provided (see Attachment One).  You may choose to post these where the students can see them during the discussion.
  • Show learners the water cycle handout (see Attachment Two) and touch each area on the picture map.  This will help them see what is exactly necessary for each of the three steps.
  • Tell learners that together the class will be creating a very large water cycle model.  They are each going to make a portion of the water cycle. Teacher Note: It will be necessary for the teacher to decide if each learner will make each piece of the water cycle or if learners will be arranged into groups to work on the water cycle.
  • Distribute Water Cycle cut outs (see Attachment Three) Learners should color rain drops blue and cut them out.
  • Cut out clouds and fill them in using white glue and stretched cotton balls.
  • Cut out blue construction paper to look like water.
  • Cut out brown construction paper to look like land (optional: decorate using sand and grass attached with white glue).
  • Cut out yellow construction paper to look like the sun.
  • When all pieces have been constructed, set aside to dry.
  • Review the terms: condensation, evaporation and precipitation.

Day Two

  • Ask learners to recall the three major parts of the water cycle and what you need for each to take place.  Be prepared to reference The Magic School Bus Wet All Over: A Book About The Water Cycle
  • Distribute the water cycle handout (Attachment Two) to each child.  Review each of the components and invite them to add color.
    Assemble the pieces to the large water cycle by allowing the learners to place their pieces on the diagram.  Invite learners to use their handouts as a guide.
  • Add the directional arrows to complete the diagram (see Attachment Four).
  • Tell learners that the water moving about in the water cycle does not fall exactly where it evaporated from.  Some places receive more and some receive less rainfall.  Each place has different needs for its water.  The area may not receive enough precipitation in the form of rainfall and that can be a problem.  That is why it is SO important to conserve water.  Who needs to conserve water? – Everyone! Explain to the learners that they can also help their friends and families conserve water by sharing what they have learned about water.


The teacher should observe the learners’ participation in group discussions, construction and assembly of their water cycle.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Set up a classroom water cycle using a terrarium for the learners to observe throughout the rest of the unit.

Bibliographical References:

Relf, Pat.  The Magic School Bus Wet All Over : A Book About The Water Cycle. Scholastic Paperbacks 1996.  ISBN: 0590508334

Lesson Developed By:

Carrie A. Thomas
Dysart Unified School District
Parkview Elementary School
Surprise, Arizona 85374


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Water Cycle Process Signs












Handout 2Print Handout 2

Water Cycle Handout


Handout 3Print Handout 3

Water Cycle Cutouts

Handout 4Print Handout 4

Water Cycle Arrows






Philanthropy Framework:


Tia, Teacher Albany, GA1/23/2008 10:41:25 PM

Wonderful Lesson!!!

Sarah, Teacher Dorr, MI10/13/2008 8:00:52 PM

Thank you! This lesson goes great with my unit!

Patricia, Teacher Cushing, TX11/27/2011 8:21:04 PM

Thank you! Great lesson, and it fits right into our unit and research!

Julieanne, Teacher Hobafrt, Australia10/17/2012 7:35:35 AM

I love this lesson sequence. It helps a lot. Thankyou.

Rodney, Teacher Panama City, FL12/28/2012 10:45:05 AM

This water cycle lesson plan helped my students to understand it much better.

Victoria, Teacher Langley, Canada2/13/2014 7:22:57 PM

Lesson Adaptation: Have the water cycle pieces be movable--as in not stapled down. If you use tacks or magnets to hold them down, then you can re-enact the water cycle as students put it up on the board. Once the students have the idea, have groups of four students come up to the board and try to put it together as fast as possible! Time each group to see which group goes the fastest! Once you have a record, as review, have students try to beat their record before the end of the unit!

maristel, Teacher pagadian city, Philippines3/7/2015 9:25:11 PM

I like this discussion. It gives more information to us.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Water Makes Our World Go 'Round Summary


Water, Glorious Water
Where Does Water Come From: The Water Cycle
Measure It Up!
Save That Water!

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