Skip Navigation

What Is the Water Cycle?

Author(s): Nancy P. Moreno, PhD, Barbara Z. Tharp, MS, and Judith Dresden, MS.


Have students work in groups of four. Put each group’s  materials on a tray and place in a central location for Materials Managers to pick up.

Place a container of sand with a scoop in a central area. Let groups measure out the quantities they need. 

Materials per Student Group

  • 20 ice cubes (approximately)
  • 2 cups of sand
  • 8-oz measuring cup, or 250 mL beaker
  • Cardboard shoebox
  • Clear plastic wrap (enough to completely cover top of the shoebox)
  • Foil (to cover shoebox interior)
  • Lamp with incandescent bulb, or sunny window
  • Large rubber band (to secure the plastic wrap)
  • Plastic tray to hold materials

Materials per Student

  • Copy of "The Water Cycle" page
  • Sheet of drawing paper


A plastic shoebox-sized container may be used. If no clear lid is is available, cover the shoebox with plastic wrap and secure it with a rubber band.

Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Numbers: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932

Houston Endowment Inc.

Houston Endowment Inc.

Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education