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Water Cycle Reading and Writing

Lesson Plan

Students will practice English language arts skills by listening to or reading a story about the water cycle and then writing a similar tale.


Students will respond to the story in ways that require:

  • reading, listening, and writing for information and understanding;
  • reading, listening, and writing for literary response and expression;
  • understanding that the water is recycled by natural processes including evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and runoff;
  • understanding that matter, including water, is made up of particles whose properties determine its observable characteristics.

Grade level:

Elementary (Grades 3-5)

Subject Areas:

English Language Arts, Science

New York State Learning Standards:

English Language Arts Standards 1, 2
Mathematics, Science, & Technology Standard 4


  • Read and listen to acquire facts and ideas from texts.
  • Gather and organize information about environmental phenomena.
  • Write to interpret, apply, and transmit information.
  • Write for literary response and expression.


Preparation time: 5 minutes
Activity time: 15 minutes for reading; 30-45 minutes for writing


Each student should have:


The water cycle describes the continuous circulation of water from water bodies and the land to the sky and back again. It is truly a cycle; there is no beginning or end. Water can change states-become a gas, liquid, or solid-at various places in the cycle.

The water cycle is powered by solar energy and gravity. Water evaporates into the atmosphere as water vapor. This gas then condenses into droplets that gravity pulls down to earth as precipitation and downhill back to the oceans as runoff. Some precipitation infiltrates the ground and becomes groundwater. It may stay there for millions of years, or bubble up in springs, or be taken up by plants and released back to the air through transpiration from their leaves. Water may also be frozen for centuries in snowpacks or glaciers before melting and rejoining the cycle.
There is about as much water on earth today as there was in the time of the dinosaurs. The water you drink today could have been in a waterhole used by dinosaurs, or frozen in the great glaciers that covered the Hudson Valley 20,000 years ago.


  1. Introduce the lesson by telling students they will take a journey with Walter the water molecule. They will frolic in the ocean, float into the atmosphere, splash down on tree tops, slip between the leaves on the forest floor, and rush over waterfalls.
  2. Read the story aloud. Point out how Walter's adventures relate to the water cycle. Use diagram available in the pdf version of this teacher's section and in the pdf package if it is appropriate to grade level.
  3. Have students write their own stories about Walter's further adventures in the water cycle (see introduction to the assignment at the end of the reading). Specify a length depending on the abilities of the students.

Vocabulary List:

Available in the pdf version of this teacher's section or packaged in a pdf with the student section.


  • Collect and review students' stories or have the stories read aloud to the class.
  • Have students identify the states of water that they encounter daily (liquid in puddles; water vapor from your breath; ice in ice cubes).
  • Ask students to identify water cycle processes that Walter experienced.


  • Berger, Melvin and Gilda. Water, Water Everywhere. A Discovery Readers Book: Ideals Children's Books, Nashville: 2003. Appropriate for ages 5-9.
  • Locker, Thomas. Water Dance. Voyager Books, NY: 2002. Appropriate for ages 4-8.
  • McKinney, Barbara. A Drop Around the World. Dawn Publications, Nevada City, California: 1998. Appropriate for ages 4-8.
  • River of Words is an annual international poetry and art contest for K-12 students on the theme of watersheds. Visit their website,, for more information about the contest and an interdisciplinary watersheds curriculum guide.
  • In the Hudson Valley, NYSDEC's Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center offers River of Words watershed poetry lessons for grades 3-12 as well as Project WET teacher trainings. Email call 845-831-8780.

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