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The story of the water cycle

About this lesson

Students gain a basic understanding of the water cycle through animation and story telling.

Year level: 1, 2

Theme: Water and the Natural Environment

Learning objectives

Students can:
  • begin to understand the water cycle
  • name one of the stages of the water cycle
  • create a story about the water cycle
  • re-read their stories and make changes.

Curriculum links



Things you will need

Lesson description

  • Watch the following water cycle animation:
  • Discuss - What was the video about?
  • Explain the basics of the water cycle and the 4 main stages using the enlarged copy of the Labelling the water cycle activity sheet.
  • Cut out the terms precipitation, evaporation, transpiration, condensation and place them on the sheet in the correct places, explaining what each one means.

Student activity

  • Students are to create a story about the water cycle, using the character of a water drop.
  • Before they start, model the story writing using student input for ideas (e.g. name of characters, where story starts (river, ocean, lake, in a plant), what happens first, what happens next, what is the end of the story).
  • Students think/pair/share some possible story ideas to also be discussed as a class.
  • Students then write their own stories.
  • Get students to cut out the pictures from The story of the water cycle activity sheet and place them in sequence to illustrate their story.
  • When they have finished writing, they can colour in their images.
  • Work with the students to edit their story by reading aloud, listening for grammatical correctness, checking use of capital letters, full stops, question marks and exclamation marks etc.

Reflect & summarise

  • In a sharing circle, students share and discuss their work (provide feedback to students as they share).
  • Summarise that water is continually moving around the water cycle.
  • Ask students to name one of the main stages of the water cycle.

Extension activities

  • Watch the YouTube clip The Water Cycle Rap (with lyrics). Explore rhyming water cycle themed words (e.g. transpiration, condensation, evaporation, precipitation).
  • As a class, write, practice and perform your own water cycle rap including the 4 main stages of the cycle.

Teacher background information

The water cycle

Water is continuously circulated through a global cycle powered by the sun and the rotation of the Earth. With exposure to the sun and the wind, water evaporates from the ocean as vapour and condenses into clouds.  Given the right conditions, it then precipitates as rain, hail or snow. The water then either: 

  • returns to the atmosphere through evaporation or transpiration by vegetation 
  • flows back into the sea in streams and rivers
  • is stored in lakes 
  • infiltrates into the ground where it is stored, or move slowly to be eventually discharged back into the sea.

How we use the water cycle

We use the natural water cycle to meet our needs for water. In Australia we are a ‘thirsty’ nation: the spread of population, the development of our cities and towns and water-based recreational activities have all combined to create an increasing demand for water. 

Water is supplied from the natural cycle and water utilities make sure that the water reaching our homes is safe to drink. After water is used, water utilities treat it before it is returned to the water cycle. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that water sources, whether or not they are used for drinking water, do not become polluted, as they are all part of the water cycle.

Did you know?

The amount of water on Earth has always remained constant and unchanged since the planet was first created.

Key vocabulary

  • Transpiration: evaporation of water from plant leaves
  • Condensation: conversion of gas to a liquid due to cooling
  • Evaporation: conversion of a liquid to a gas due to heat
  • Precipitation: water being released from a cloud in the form of rain, hail or snow
  • Cloud: a visible mass of water
  • Water vapour: The name of water when it is a gas
  • Water cycle: describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth