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Activity I-2: Acting Out the Water Cycle
This youth activity is one in a series of four activities that can be used to introduce water resource concepts.  It is a good introductory activity and can be adapted for all grades.

To dramatically teach students about the water (hydrologic) cycle.
(This information was taken from Taken from STOP, LOOK, and LEARN About Our Natural World, Volume 2 by the Nebraska Natural Resource Commission, Lincoln, Nebraska. November 1988.)
Water doesn't disappear with our use of it in irrigation, manufacturing or consumption.  The water we have now is the water we had at the beginning of time.  Water forms, dissipates, and forms again in a cycle called the hydrologic or water cycle.

The water cycle is a gigantic circulation system operating over the earth's land and oceans in the atmosphere surrounding the earth.  Being a cycle, there is no beginning or ending but for illustration, let's begin with the waters of the oceans, which cover about three-fourths of the earth.

Water from the surface of the ocean evaporates into the atmosphere.  That moisture in turn is lifted, eventually is condensed, and falls back to the earth's surface as precipitation.

Precipitation that falls as rain, hail, dew, snow, or sleet is important to people and agriculture.  After wetting the foliage and ground, some of the precipitation runs off into streams and other waterways.  This is the water that often causes erosion and is the main contributor to floods.  Not all of the precipitation runs off.  Some soaks into the ground and is available for evaporation.  Some of it reaches the deeper zones and slowly percolates (infiltration) through to springs and seeps to maintain and replenish them during dry periods.  The streams eventually lead back to the oceans, where the water is again evaporated into the atmosphere.

* notecards (I used 5 x 8 inch cards) - one for each student - OR -
use master of "cards" at end of activity - one sheet per student
  1. List one hydrologic cycle element per card (it doesn't matter that there may be an uneven amount of each element).  Suggested elements: PRECIPITATION (or rain), EVAPORATION, RUNOFF, INFILTRATION, CONDENSATION (or clouds), STREAMS, SOLAR ENERGY (or sun), TRANSPIRATION.
    - OR -
    Have the students color the "cards" and cut them out.  Put all the colored cards into a bag or box.

  2. Allow each student to blindly pick a card.

  3. The students are to "act out" or pantomime the word on the card.  Without talking to anyone, they are to group themselves with other like actions.  Then, when everyone has found a group, they tell the teacher what they are or are doing.

  4. Have the students choose a leader from each group.  The leaders from each group will then dramatize the entire hydrologic cycle.  Hints:  1) the hydrologic cycle is not linear, so the students should not be standing in a line, 2) the hydrologic cycle in not 2 dimensional, encourage up and down variations, and 3) there is no proper beginning or ending - it is a cycle.
Have each group draw their hydrologic cycle element on a large sheet of butcher paper.  Fill in with homes, school, mountains, highways, industries, construction sites, etc., and discuss how each area affects the hydrologic cycle.
This activity was adapted by Dr. Kitt Farrell-Poe from the Invitational Professional Development Workshop: Water Activities Teaching Environmental Responsibility. February 28-March 4, 1990. Camp Ocala, 4-H Center, Altoona, FL.

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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, James A. Christenson, Director, Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona. The University of Arizona College of Agriculture is an Equal Opportunity employer, authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to sex, race, religion, color, national origin, age, Viet Nam Era Veteran's status, or disability.

For problems or questions regarding this web contact Dr. Kitt Farrell-Poe.
This document was last modified: 31-Aug-2005 .