One of the first things Homeschool Pool studied for the weather unit is the water cycle. All three of the kids participated to varying degrees. Tadpole was expected to understand the most while Guppy needed to understand the basic components of the water cycle. Minnow watched and had fun with the experiments but that was about all with him. He grasped portions of it.
First we discussed the water cycle:
- Evaporation – The sun heats the water and turns it into water vapor. This gas rises to the sky. (A concept for all kids)
- Transpiration – This is the process of sweating just like people do but for plants. The plants lose water through their leaves. (Tadpole was the only one required to know this but it was discussed with all)
- Condensation – when water vapor cools it forms water and makes clouds. This process is called condensation (A concept for all kids)
- Precipitation – when the air can no longer hold the water it falls from the sky (A concept for all kids) Tadpole was required to name 4 methods of precipitation, rain, snow, sleet and hail while Guppy was required to know rain and snow.
- Runoff – the water that melts from snow and travels through streams and rivers to lakes and oceans (Tadpole required concept, discussed with all)
- Collection – when the water falls back to the earth and the cycle starts all over again (a concept for all kids)
- Ground water – the water that returns to the earth and soaks into the ground (Tadpole only concept, discussed with all)
We viewed some online images of the water cycle and discussed how a cycle is a circle. You start with one thing, move to another until finished then you start all over again.
Some of the images we used include:
We then did some experiments to solidify these concepts. Homeschool Dad led these.
Quick and Easy Condensation Experiment
What you need:
- 1 Water Glass
- A hot and/or humid day
The first thing we did was simply fill a glass with ice and water and wait. Living where we do, condensation on the outside of the glass simply happens without having to work at it but they saw and felt the outside of the glass get wet. This was done mostly for Guppy to drive home the concept today as she even remembered having wet cups in the past. We felt condensation within minutes and we came back to it after the second experiment to feel quite a bit of condensation. (Yay for 55% relative humidity in March!)
A Rainstorm In a Glass
What you need:
- 1 Large Water Glass
- 1 Bowl that fits on top of the glass fairly well
- Very Hot Water
We then went further to explore how water evaporates, condensates and precipitates by making a rainstorm in a glass. I took a glass about a third full of water and popped it in the microwave to get it nice and hot. While it was in there, I got a bowl and put ice in it. After the water was hot, I waited to let it cool for moment, then placed the bowl of ice on top. Almost immediately, condensation formed at the top of the glass, but there was a nice lack of it down near the water itself. Tadpole made the connection that hot air rises and mentioned the tea kettle’s steam visibly going up. This is a great connection that should be made during this experiment. The condensation was particularly strong on the bottom of the bowl. After awhile we even got a few raindrops. This is what it looked like after only a couple minutes:
As an extension, I went ahead and turned on the tea kettle so Guppie could see the steam that Tadpole had mentioned. I took the bowl of ice and put it about a foot above the tea kettle and left it there for about a minute. There was enough condensation built up after this to drip on both Tadpole and Guppie! They got wet but they got see a very powerful example of how rain forms in the sky.
After the experiments we did a cool craft to help remind everyone what the water cycle is. We created water cycle bracelets.
WATER CYCLE BRACELETS
What you need:
- Twine, string or yarn (we used cooking twine…it was what we had handy)
- beads: yellow, clear, white, blue and green
Gather your supplies. We then discussed the symbolism of each bead, adding a bead to the strand of twine as we went:
- The yellow bead represents the sun which does what? warms the water
- When the water is warm what happens? It rises as water vapor
- What is this called? Evaporation
- The clear bead represents evaporation
- What happens next? Condensation
- Condensation forms what? Clouds represented by the white bead
- What is the next step? precipitation
- Precipitation is represented by the blue bead for water
- Then what’s next? Collection
- When it falls to the ground it can collect on grass represented by the green bead
- Then what? It starts all over again!
We then tied the bracelets on the girls and they each used the beads to recite the water cycle. The beads served as a good reminder and because they formed a circle it helped as a visual representation of the water cycle.
After we finished the water cycle bracelets we also did a small art project to illustrate the water cycle.
WATER CYCLE ART PROJECT
- blue construction paper
- yellow construction paper
- green construction paper
- cotton balls
Draw a sun with marker. We used an orange marker on yellow paper. Cut it out and paste it onto your full sheet of blue construction paper. It looks like this:
Next, swirl some glue on the paper in cloud shape. Take the cotton balls and press them onto the shape to form a fluffy cloud. It should now look like this:
Then, cut a strip of green construction paper. Use a green marker to accent the strip so it looks like grass. Take your scissors and cut strips into the green paper but leave a little edge. The cuts don’t have to be uniform. Paste the strip to the bottom of the blue construction paper. Bend some of the strips to give it a little interest. It should look like this:
Now it’s time to add the water cycle. Start with evaporation. Create arrows pointing up and toward the clouds and label it “evaporation”. We used a grey marker for this but you could also use glitter glue if you wanted to get really snazzy. It looks like this:
Label the next part of the water cycle – condensation. It looks like this:
We then used a blue marker and created blue arrows pointing down to represent precipitation. Label it. It should look like this:
Finally, draw arrows going across your grass and showing how it goes back up to evaporation sing a green marker. Label it “collection”. It should look like this:
Voila! You have a completed water cycle picture:
The Homeschool Pool kids had a great time and the various activities all centered around the water cycle ensured the information stuck. Both Tadpole and Guppy have a clear understanding of it.