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Lesson Plan

Rain, Ice, Steam: Using Reading to Support Inquiry About the Water Cycle

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Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Seven 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jane Thompson

Highland Village, Texas


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology



Teacher Resources




  • Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin and John Archambault (Henry Holt & Co, 1988)
  • Come On, Rain! By Karen Hesse (Scholastic, 1999)
  • The Incredible Water Show by Debra Frasier (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2004)
  • Food coloring
  • Ice cube trays
  • White and blue paper
  • Plastic bottle
  • Gravel
  • Potting soil
  • Small plants
  • Bottle cap or shell
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber bands
  • Droppers
  • Measuring cups
  • Salt
  • Recording of water sounds
  • CD player
  • Student journals

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1. Obtain and familiarize yourself with Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin and John Archambault, Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse, and The Incredible Water Show by Debra Frasier.

2. Learn about the water cycle using The Water Cycle: Water Storage in Ice and Snow and the Water Cycle Teachers Page. Cluster the information you gather into three categories: evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. You should also familiarize yourself with the student websites for this lesson — Drinking Water & Ground Water Kids' Stuff, The Water Cycle, Drinking Water, and Droplet and the Water Cycle — which contain valuable information about the water cycle as well. In addition, Activities for an Unforgettable Water Study Extravaganza has ideas for helping students write a play about the water cycle.

3. Familiarize yourself with the Water Cycle Boogie from the Water Cycle Teachers Page. You will use this song with your students (see Session 2, Step 2).

4. Create a chart of the water cycle to share with students. Draw a circle on a large sheet of paper or cardboard and create cutouts of the sun, clouds, rain, the ocean, the ground, and evaporation that you can place in appropriate spots. See a Diagram of the Water Cycle or The Water Cycle for sample charts.

5. Prepare materials for the water cycle experiment (see Session 2). You will need a one-liter bottle, potting soil, some small plants, a bottle cap or shell, gravel, plastic wrap, and a rubber band. This experiment will need a sunny corner, warm light, or hair dryer as well. Visit Thirstin's Water Cycle Activity for an explanation of how to conduct this experiment.

6. Assemble materials for the evaporation experiment (see Session 3). You will need to make trays of red, green, and yellow ice cubes, including enough so that each student gets one ice cube of each color. You will also need one sheet of white construction paper for each student.

7. Write the following list of words from Listen to the Rain on a sheet of chart paper:

  • Drip-drop tinkle

  • Singing of the rain

  • Pitter-patter

  • Splish and splash and splatter

  • Roaring pouring rain

  • Lightning-flashing; thunder-crashing

  • Mushy muddy puddle
8. Prepare the following centers for your students to use during this lesson:

  • Publishing Center – Provide various types of paper, writing implements, pictures of various parts of the water cycle, and bookmaking materials. Post charts of the water cycle for students to refer to.

  • Art Center – Provide art materials, including finger paints, paper, string, and buttons.

  • Technology Center – Set up computers with Internet access; bookmark Drinking Water & Ground Water Kids' Stuff, The Water Cycle, Drinking Water, and Droplet and the Water Cycle on these machines.

  • Math Center – Provide activities to help students learn about water information such as:
  • Various measuring cups and water so that students can measure ounces

  • Droppers, water, salt, a ruler, blue paper, and a timer so that students can count the number of water drops that can fall in a minute and can measure the size of both freshwater and saltwater drops
  • Science Center – Place the experiments you complete here for student observation and experimentation. You will also want to provide trays of red, green, and yellow ice cubes; paper; and a timer for student observation of evaporation times (see Session 1).

  • Reading Center – Assemble books about rain or the water cycle for students to read during center time. See Books About the Water Cycle for some suggestions.
9. Get a recording of water sounds including running water and rain.



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