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What happens to rain after it falls

About this lesson

Children are introduced to the concept of rain and where it goes after it falls, with particular focus on our groundwater supply.


Year level: EC

Theme: Water supply


Learning objectives

Students can:
  • gain awareness that rain is part of the water cycle
  • gain awareness that when rain hits the ground, different things happen to it
  • gain awareness that some rain becomes groundwater.

Curriculum links

Early Years Learning Framework

  • Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world. Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment
  • Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners. Children develop a range of skills processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating
  • Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators

Things you will need

Activity 1

  • The Water Cycle poster
  • 1 litre plastic bottle with a lid, with labels removed. Drill or pierce one hole in the lid and several holes in the bottom and fill with water. Have several to share around the group
  • Tub of water to fill rain bottles
Activity 2
  • 3 different types of soil (clay, loam, sand)
  • 3 glass jars
  • Old nylon stocking
  • 3 elastic bands
  • A tablespoon
  • Water
  • Measuring jug
  • Paper, paints or colouring crayons


Lesson description

Activity 1 – Where does rain go?

Discuss

  • Use The Water Cycle poster to discuss the water cycle and where rain goes.
  • Talk about how water is collected (from dams, groundwater and the ocean) is treated and becomes drinking water.

Student activity

Note: the quickest way to refill the rain bottle is take off the lid and immerse it in the water.

  • In an outside area show children how to use the rain bottle by keeping their finger on the hole in the lid to stop the rain and taking it off to start the rain
  • See what happens when the rain bottle is used in certain places (e.g. on the path, on the lawn, on sand, under a tree, on soil)
  • Discuss where the water goes; it soaks into the ground, it puddles on the bitumen and dries up (evaporation), plants drink it, it runs off into a drain that can lead to rivers, lakes and the ocean

Activity 2 – Some rain becomes groundwater

Lesson Description

  • Discuss how water soaks into the ground and some of it becomes groundwater (water held deep underground), which we extract, treat, and use for drinking water
  • Explain that you are going to show them how different soils allow more water through than others
  • Place the nylon stocking over the top of each jar and hold in place with an elastic band (let it sag slightly into the middle of the jar). Place two tablespoons of soil in each stocking. Pour the same volume of water over the soil in each jar and see which soil allows the water to flow through fastest
  • Ask the children to tell you which is fastest and why? Which jar do they think has the most water?
  • Explain that the clay and the loam have soaked up a lot of the water, whereas the sand has let the most amount of water through. Eventually some of the water will go deep into the ground and become groundwater

Student activity

  • Children draw a picture of the demonstration showing the jars and the water coming through.

Reflect & summarise

As a class, view the following video:


  • Song lyrics: “Rain and snow come down, and they hit the ground. Soak into the earth, or they hang around, in puddles or lakes, they evaporate, up into the clouds where they condensate. Boy it’s cold up there, but they’re unaware, as they grab some dust, and return to us. They precipitate, on land and lakes. It’s the water cycle, ain’t it great?
  • Remind children that rain is part of the water cycle. Some of it soaks into the ground, some dries up (evaporates), some drains into rivers, lakes or oceans, some of it is used by plants

Extension activities

Find more early childhood resources.

Teacher background information

Water is continuously circulated through a global cycle powered by the sun and the rotation of the earth. This is called the water cycle. With exposure to the sun and the wind, water evaporates from the ocean and is blown by the wind over land as vapour in clouds; given the right conditions, it then precipitates as rain, hail or snow. 

The water can then either:

  • return to the atmosphere through evaporation or transpiration by vegetation
  • flow back into the sea via streams and rivers
  • be stored in lakes and dams
  • infiltrate into the ground, where it may be stored, or move slowly to eventually be discharged back into the sea.

Our water sources

Drinking water in WA comes from 3 major sources: surface water, groundwater and desalination. The Perth metropolitan area is supplied by the Integrated Water Supply Scheme, which also supplies Mandurah, Pinjarra, Harvey, Waroona, Binningup, Myalup, Yarloop and towns serviced by the Goldfields Pipeline. It is called an integrated scheme because water is drawn from an integrated network of dams, groundwater and seawater sources. 

In some northern metropolitan areas, water supplied is from groundwater sources alone, while in other areas of Perth, the supply may be from dams or a mixture of sources. Water from all sources is treated by Water Corporation to ensure it meets stringent drinking water quality regulations.

Surface water

Dams servicing the metropolitan area include Canning, Serpentine, North and South Dandalup, Wungong, Victoria, Bickley and Churchmans Brook. Mundaring Weir provides water to towns along the Goldfields Pipeline, to agricultural districts, and at times to Perth.

Other major dams in WA include Harris Dam, which supplies water to 32 towns in the Great Southern region, and Harding Dam near Roebourne, which supplies towns in the West Pilbara region including Karratha.

Groundwater

Groundwater is water that occupies the spaces between particles of soil (sand, silt and clay) or rock beneath the earth’s surface. The source of groundwater is rain, which infiltrates the soil. Groundwater moves quickly through sandy soils and reaches the water table. As a result, large volumes of groundwater can often be pumped from wells (bores) sunk in sandy soils.

Desalination

The Perth Seawater Desalination Plant began operating in 2006. Located in the Kwinana industrial area, the plant supplies desalinated water to the Integrated Water Supply Scheme. In 2011 a second seawater desalination plant was built at Binningup in the South West.

Did you know?

Small raindrops are spherical (the shape of a ball), while larger ones look like a hamburger bun (with a round top and flat bottom).

Key vocabulary

  • Evaporation: The conversion of a liquid into a vapour – the opposite of condensation
  • Condensation: The process by which a vapour becomes a liquid
  • Precipitation: Water falling, in a liquid or solid state, from the atmosphere to Earth
  • Groundwater: Water located beneath the ground surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations
  • Extract: To draw or pull out