Monday, November 14, 2011

Annotated Bib - The Water Cycle

All of the water on earth is part of the water cycle. Students must understand that water can be found in a variety of places, including rivers, lakes, the ocean, and even in the ground and that water is an important natural resource. The water cycle is broken into three distinct processes, and is driven by energy from the sun. Water evaporates from various sources, changes back into a liquid through condensation, and falls back to the ground as precipitation. Students are more likely to understand the water cycle if they are able to construct their own model, but the following books and resources will give students a view of the water cycle from a variety of perspectives.


"The Water Cycle" by Tudi Strain Trueit. 2002. 63 p. Franklin Watts, (9780531162200). Grades 3-5.

This engaging book about the basics of the water cycle includes amazing photographs of the various stages and sources of water. In addition, the book contains an extensive glossary that defines all pertinent water cycle terminology and provides a quick reference with page numbers if students would rather not read the entire book.

"From Ice to Rain" by Marlene Reidel. 1981. 28 p. Carolrhoda Books, (9780876141571). Grades PreK-3.

This charming book follows the water cycle from a frozen pond on its journey to becoming rain and snow. The illustrations are simple and colorful and the book gives a good overview of a science concept without sounding too scientific - the book reads more like a picture book than a science book.

"The Water Cycle" by Rebecca Olien. 2006. 24 p. Capstone Press, (9780736851824). Grades PreK-3rd.

Much like Trudi Trueit's book, Olien's book also contains excellent photographs of the various stages of the water cycle. In addition to the photographs, Olien provides simple diagrams as well as insets with "Fun Facts" that allow students to dig deeper than the information required by the SOL.

"The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story" by Niel Waldman. 2003. 32 p. Millbrook Press, (9780761323471). Grades PreK-3rd.

This book is unique in that the author approaches the water cycle over the course of an entire year by following a single drop of water throughout that time period. Each month receives its own couple of pages. The water begins as a single snowflake and travels through nature, comes into contact with a little girl, and is finally evaporated and transformed back into a snowflake. This books reads like a classic picture book - it is very descriptive and the pictures are bright and engaging paintings.

"Did A Dinosaur Drink This Water?" by Robert E. Wells. 2006. 32 p. Albert Whitman and Company, (9780807588406). Grades PreK-3rd.

This book is unique in that it covers the water cycle and other water related issues as well in a fun, quirky way. In addition to covering the basics of the water cycle, it includes information on the importance of water for both plants and animals as well as the importance of water conservation to the planet.


This brightly-colored website for kids includes brief summaries of the water cycle and its various components, perfect for in-class review. It also includes printable activity sheets thats students can take home or complete in class.

This website gives a very bried overview of the water-cycle, but its real value lies in the other links it provides. Links to other websites include links to print-outs, quizzes, and even skits, all about the water cycle.

This webpage, from the Scholastic website, provides students with a 3-minute video on the water cycle. As follow-up to the video, it also offers a water cycle quiz and a list of important vocabulary and definitions.

For Teachers

Virginia Standards of Learning

SOL 3.9 The student will investigate and understand the water cycle and its relationship to life on earth. Key concepts include:

a) the energy from the sun drives the water cycle;

b) processes involved in the water cycle (evaporation, condensation, precipitation);

c) water is essential for all living things; and

d) water supply and water conservation.

Background Information from Curriculum Framework

  • The water cycle is the movement of water from the ground to the air and back to the grounf by evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. The energy that drives this cycle comes from the sun.

  • During the water cycle, liquid water is heated and changed to a gas (evaporation). The gas is cooled and changed back to a liquid (condensation). A liquid or a solid falls to the ground as precipitation.

  • Our water supply on Earth is limited. Pollution reduces the amount of usable water; therefore, the supply should be conserved carefully.

  • Water is a simple compound essential for life on Earth. Living cells are mostly water. In each cell, the chemicals necessary for life are dissovled in water.

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