Aligning with Common Core standards doesn’t mean that you have to completely change all of your lesson plans. This week I’ve taken one of my favorite lessons about the water cycle and updated it to meet several CC standards.
LESSON PLAN: THE WATER CYCLE
This lesson engages all of the senses using music, movement, hands-on art project, and creative writing to introduce the water cycle. The lesson begins by reading aloud A Drop Around the World, a richly-illustrated picture book which follows and ever-changing drop of water—from liquid to solid to vapor.
Suggested Grade Level: K-2
Suggested Time: 2 class sessions
- A Drop Around the World book
- Water Wheel handout, 1 per student
- crayons or colored pencils for all students
- brads, 1 per student
- Optional: interesting photos of clouds
Day One—Water Wheel
- Engage your students by pouring a glass of water and asking, “How old is this water?” Take responses and then explain that even though you just got the water from the tap a few moments ago, the water is actually older than the dinosaurs! In fact, it’s as old as the Earth itself. It’s been constantly recycled for millions of years through the processes of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.
- Show a youtube video of the Water Cycle Boogie of the Banana Slug String Band that explains the water cycle through song. The movements will get them up out of their seats! If you teach the movements and new vocabulary to your students before showing them the video, they’ll be able to participate with the band like the kids shown in the audience. Science vocabulary terms include: evaporation, condensation, precipitation.
- Illustrate the water cycle by reading aloud A Drop Around the World. Review vocabulary terms and check for understanding by asking questions such as “What type of precipitation is Drop on this page?” Or, “What happened to Drop when it evaporated?”
- When finished reading, go back to each page and ask students to identify whether Drop (main character) is a solid, liquid, or gas. Have them use the illustrations as cues to identify which habitats Drop travels through. Ask them which animals Drop experiences (both inside and outside). Ask them which aspects of the story are facts (true) and which are fiction (couldn’t really happen). Ask them to identify the rhyming words on one or more pages. Ask if the rhyme helps them understand the meaning and/or if it makes the information more interesting.
- Have students elaborate on the water cycle by creating a Water Wheel using the directions from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
- When everyone is finished creating their wheels, check for understanding by saying the words “solid,” “liquid,” or “gas” and having students turn to the correct place on the water wheels.
- Compare the simple stages of the water cycle shown on the water wheel with the more detailed water cycle illustrated in A Drop Around the World.
Day Two—Cloud Maker
5. Combine the science of the water cycle with a poetry lesson. All learners can get off to a successful start with this lesson because there’s no one right answer when it comes to the question, “What does that cloud look like to you?”
6. Take students outside to observe the clouds and ask them sketch several clouds in their nature journals. Back inside, instruct them to use their drawings as the basis for a vertical poem. Click here for complete directions.
NOTE: This activity is taken from the ebook A Teacher’s Guide for A Drop Around the World. It describes a creative way to do cloud watching inside the classroom if you’re not able to go outside.) Whether you do this activity outside or inside, you can supplement it with interesting photos of clouds from Prof. Richard Carlson’s website.
- The Weather Wizkids website presents an introduction to the various types of clouds along with several water cycle experiments to try at home or school, including lesson plans and science experiments.
- The Kid’s Crossing website presents simple, easy-to-understand descriptions of clouds and directions for making a cloud in a bottle.
- The Wonderful Water Cycle WebQuest has great links for excellent information and activities
Common Core Connection
~Reading Literature: Key Ideas and Details K.3, 1.3, 2.3; Craft and Structure K.5, 1.5, 2.5, 2.4.
~Informational Text: Key Ideas and Details K.3, 1.3, 2.3; Craft and Structure K.4, 1.4, 2.4, 2.6; Integration of Knowledge and Ideas K.7, K.9, 1.7, 1.9, 2.7, 2.9
Science Framework Connection
~Earth’s Surface Systems: Roles of Water (2)
~Structure and Properties of Matter (K, 2)