When one looks around at the world and sees all the water on the earth and watches all the rain that falls from the sky, it is easy to believe that there is a constant supply of water for us. However, this isn’t the case. The earth has only a limited amount of water, and it is recycled over and over again in a process called the water cycle, or hydrologic cycle. The water that is present on the earth today has been here for millions of years. It goes through processes of evaporation, precipitation, and percolation. Sometimes the water will be present in a liquid state, sometimes solid, and sometimes gaseous, as molecules rise from the oceans up to the clouds.
The process seems simple, but it is an amazing procedure that has many steps and independent variables. Water falls to the earth as rain, snow, hail, or sleet. When it completes its journey to the earth, it may find a home in the rivers and lakes. It may lie on the ground as snow, or it may freeze to form glaciers or frozen lakes or ponds. It may lie in the rock beds and percolate; it may flow freely, changing the look of the land over which is runs. Eventually the water evaporates, the air drawing molecules of water up to the clouds. When the clouds become heavy, the rain or snow falls once again. Through these and other processes, the same water is used on the earth over and over again.
Following is an extensive list of sites available on the water cycle. There are interactive games and quizzes. There are laboratories, activities, and WebQuests to explore. So, come on in and explore the recycling effects of the water cycle.
Earth Guide Diagrams: This water cycle diagram is interactive, allowing the reader to click on different elements in the diagram to explain where water comes from and goes to.
Earth Floor: This brief article explains some reasons that water will behave in the way that it does during the water cycle.
Introduction to the Atmosphere: Geared toward upper-elementary children, this site demonstrates and instructs how to build a model to imitate the water cycle.
The Water Cycle: Resource page for explanations as to how the water cycle functions.
Summit to the Sea: Explanation of the water cycle.
The Hydrosphere: Lesson plan for teachers that highlights, not only the water cycle, but how this information can aid conservation.
What's the Deal With the Water Cycle?: Illustrated diagram of the water cycle with links to other websites and activities.
Climate Education for K-12: Motivates the reader to learn about the water cycle and applies it to their lives.
Kid's Crossing - Cycles of the Earth: One page in the site “Living in the Greenhouse,” this page provides a picture, brief overview, and links to other information on the water cycle.
Water: A Never-Ending Story: A teacher’s lesson for grades 4-5, this activity will span two weeks and creates in-depth opportunities to learn about the water cycle.
CREATE for Mississippi: This sixth grade lesson plan encourages students to recognize the recycling pattern of the water cycle.
Keystone Basics - The Water Cycle: This site provides a lengthy explanation of the water cycle.
Water on the Move: Introducing the topic with a brief story, this story provides a short summary of the workings of the water cycle.
The Hydrologic Cycle: Describes the hydrologic cycle and explains the roles of soils, run-off, and watersheds in the process.
United States Geologic Society - Water Science for Schools: Government site that provides extension information about the earth’s water, its cycle, its distribution, and its future.
Water Education: This site focuses primarily on Utah in its water conservation discussions, but it also has games, illustrations, and young artist contests.
Understanding Our Earth's Water Cycle: This sixth grade activity uses power point, photographs, and animations to illustrate their comprehension of the water cycle.
Exploring the Environment: This brief article explains the water cycle and what it means to the sculpting of the earth and its role in atmospheric circulation.
Introduction to the Elements of the Water Cycle: Fourth grade students are invited to create a laboratory equivalent to the water cycle.
Make Your Own Water Cycle: This experiment used to illustrate the water cycle utilizes a fish tank to simulate conditions on the earth.
What Forces Affect Our Weather?: Insight on the role of clouds in the water cycle.
Reading Comprehension - The Water Cycle: Interactive site that involves filling in the blanks on evaporation and precipitation.
Building Models of the Water Cycle: Simple experiment using water and food coloring in half-gallon jars to inform students of the water cycle.
H20: Information about the usual terms and concept of the water cycle as well as information on the “age” of water that circulates today.
Kidzone - Water: Informative article on the water cycle and plant evaporation with pictures to support the knowledge.
Water Cycle Webquest: WebQuest for early elementary kids to be used as a fact-finding adventure to complete a power point presentation to show their knowledge.
An Internet Webquest on the Water Cycle: Group project to gather information on each process in the water cycle.
A Webquest for 5th Grade Science: This WebQuest involves research, sample quizzes, and creation of a brochure to examine the processes of the water cycle.
The Journey of a Water Molecule: Takes students on a journey through the process of the water cycle.