Resources for Grades 3-5 Activity – Water Wonders

The water cycle is the system by which Earth’s water is collected, purified, and distributed from the environment to living things and then returned to the environment. Through modeling and an experiment, students explore the various steps of the water cycle and make connections between the water cycle and all living things.

For the complete activity and more like this, purchase the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide at and/or attend a professional development training in your state.

Below are some supporting resources for this activity.


Download the copyright-free student pages that are included with this activity:

Go to the Head of the Cloud (PDF)

Water Cycle Data Sheet (PDF)


Spanish Student Page(s):

Ve a la cabeza de la Nube (PDF)

Hoja de datos del ciclo del agua (PDF)


The following tools and resources may be used to enhance the activity.

  • Why Cities Need Trees

    Why Cities Need Trees is a 5:26-minute video that illustrates how trees are an essential part of successful cities. It tells the tale of two ancient cities and the trees that determined their destinies, and the importance of trees in modern-day cities–from helping to protect a city’s infrastructure to improving the health of its residents.

    Resource for Discover Your Urban Forest and Explore Your Environment activities: Trees in Trouble (Grades 3–5) and Forest in the City (Grades 6-8)

  • Podcast: Water Is Key

    Water Is Key.” Trees Are Key. Episode 259. The first 13-minute segment of this podcast explores several of the ways that water is vital for our trees and for people. Geared for adults, Trees Are Key is a series of over 300 podcasts by Texas A&M Forest Service. See for the full list.

  • Go with the Flow!

    NASA’s Space Place website engages upper-elementary-aged children in space and Earth science through interactive games, hands-on activities, informative articles, and engaging short videos. Find material in both English and Spanish and resources for parents and teachers. For example, in the online game Go with the Flow!, children direct a submarine to uncover hidden treasure and learn about ocean currents and water dynamics. Accompanying the game is additional information on the basics about ocean currents, how salt and temperature play a major role in their development, and a video that shows the major ocean currents that flow around the globe. Supplement this mini-lesson with one of PLT’s activities to enrich the experience.

  • Cloud Lab

    Covering 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, clouds can provide clues about the weather and climate. Using NOVA’s Cloud Lab tool, students will learn about cloud typing and storm prediction. They’ll learn how scientists use sophisticated instruments and data to study the development of Earth’s most powerful storms and better predict their impacts. Then use the same tools to investigate storms developing right now. Cloud Lab includes four activities, a series of videos, interviews with scientists and quizzes. 

  • The World’s Watersheds

    Water is one of our most important resources! Earth’s rivers form watersheds to carry freshwater to communities and all living species around the globe. These Beautiful Maps of the World’s Watersheds, artistically mapped by geographer Szűcs Róbert, highlight the world’s permanent and temporary streams and rivers. The stunning images depict the dominant drainage systems of the world’s water.

  • The Adventure of Water from Afar

    Go on an adventure to learn more about innovations being made to protect and manage clean water! Produced by EarthEcho International, the video Water By Design: Water from Afar investigates reservoirs of water and the technology employed to measure and maintain it. One example examines how NASA uses innovative technology to measure snow and represent the availability of fresh water that comes from snow melts. Check out the video to learn even more about how water is stored, filtered, and brought to your home. EarthEcho’s Educator Resources are a collection of videos, lesson plans, and other materials designed to support high-quality classroom experiences and assist educators as they equip young people to explore and protect their local natural resources.  

  • The Chemistry of Clean Water

    This video, The Chemistry of Clean Water, from the American Chemistry Council demonstrates some of the ways chemistry keeps the water supply clean. Chemistry helps to purify, protect, and conserve water for safe consumption. The video helps students draw connections to elementary chemistry concepts and STEM.

  • WikiWatershed

    This web toolkit is designed to help middle, high school, and college educators and students – as well as citizens, conservationists, municipal decision-makers, and researchers – advance their knowledge and stewardship of fresh water. Developed by the Stroud Water Research Center, the toolkit enables users to share watershed-model scenarios, watershed-monitoring data, and watershed-management stories as an open, collaborative community. Learn more and access archived training webinars for educators at

  • Fresh Solutions: Water Use and Conservation

    Videos from California Academy of Sciences explore today’s environmental issues related to water use, from water shortage to waste water recycling. Intended for middle school students, these short videos come with background information for better understanding. You can extend the concepts covered by facilitating a student-led discussion or making connections to the Next Generation Science Standards.

  • Interactive Water Cycle

    The U.S. Geological Survey’s interactive water cycle shows the various stages, actors, and components of the water cycle. There are three different versions of this resource for various ages as well as several languages.

  • Create a Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat

    The Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service gives step-by-step recommendations for creating a wildlife habitat at site, based on on-the-ground experience from successful projects.

  • EPA’s WaterSense Kids Website

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Kids website teaches elementary and middle level students about the importance of water and why we need to conserve it. Test knowledge with an online animation, or identify simple water solutions to use water wisely.

  • USFS Water

    Information from the U.S. Forest Service on water, including a water cycle poster and water facts.

  • H2ouse Water Saver Home

    Take a virtual tour to investigate the water-saving opportunities in each area of your home. Click on each location to learn about it and get specific advice.

  • Water Kids

    This site, from the Water Education Foundation, provides graphics and text on topics including the water cycle, surface water vs. groundwater, the Earth’s water supply, and water conservation. Their mission is to create a better understanding of water issues and to help resolve water resource problems through educational programs.

  • Water Calculator and Conservation Tips

    The GRACE Water Program is home to the Water Footprint Calculator, which estimates the water you use directly from the tap as well as the “virtual water” that goes into producing your food, clothing, and more. The program provides tools, tips and information on water conservation.

  • USGS Water Science School

    This U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Water Science School website offers information on many aspects of water, along with pictures, data, maps, and an interactive center where you can share your opinions and test your water knowledge.

  • Weather Wiz

    At this website, students learn to forecast the weather like a professional meteorologist.  Visit the website and click on “Wiz School” to learn basic information about weather, images of storms and clouds, activities to help develop forecasting skills, and how-to methods for forecasting different weather events.  Users can also access long-range weather forecasts up to two years out, for locations across the United States and the globe.

  • StoryStation Descriptions

    These three PowerPoint files ( StoryStation DescriptionsStation Cards AStation Cards B ) contain all of the station cards and descriptions that you will need to complete the activity.  You can download and edit them based on you students needs. 

  • Adventures of a Water Molecule

    “Adventures of a Water Molecule” is a short story of a water molecules journey.  Could be used as an example for student stories or as a way to introduce students to the water cycle.    

  • Example Student Presentation

    Example Student PowerPoint Presentation (from 7th & 8th grade students at Rutland Middle School in Bibb County, Georgia)  

  • Water Calculator

    The H2O Conserve Water Calculator is a short survey that will get you thinking about how much water you use, and how water connects to almost every aspect of your life. The Conserve Water Calculator compares individual daily water usage with the national average. It also provides suggestions of how to save more water using improved practices. Beyond the calculator, the site provides valuable educational materials and activities to engage students in water conservation issues.

  • Safe Drinking Water Foundation (SDWF) Educational Materials

    Safe Drinking Water Foundation (SDWF) Educational Materials offers many different hands-on drinking water kits, and more, that relate content to science, social studies, and math, investigating the topic from various perspectives to include economics, social, and health issues.

  • EPA Drinking Water Info

    Consumers have many questions about their drinking water. How safe is my drinking water? What is being done to improve security of public water systems? Where does my drinking water come from, and how is it treated? What can I do to help protect my drinking water? Answers to these and other questions are addressed in Water on Tap: What You Need To Know.

  • World Wetlands Day

    Free educational materials are available to help you celebrate World Wetlands Day (or celebrate Wetlands any day), sponsored by Ramsar Convention.  

  • Water1der

    Available for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices, the free Water1der application features questions related to conservation, irrigation, water cycle, watersheds, pollution prevention, and more. For use with middle level and older students, the app uses popular game-playing formats (multiple choice, true and false, matching, etc.)

  • The Water Cycle by USGS

    This interactive water cycle diagram produced by the US Geological Survey and the United Nations allows you to “mouse around” the parts of the water cycle and view explanations, pictures, and more. Available for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students, the diagram introduces an increasing number of terms at each level. PDF and JPG versions of the diagrams are also available for download and printing.

  • Scratch

    Using Scratch, educators of all ages and levels can program interactive stories, games, and animations and share their creations in an online community. Click on For Educators to access tips and resources for using Scratch in the classroom, including an introductory video, how-to tutorials, and a webinar. Teachers can also join the ScratchEd community to connect and collaborate with other educators using Scratch.

  • Monitoring Freshwater Ecosystems App

    This Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Lake Science app developed by UC Berkley’s The Lawrence Hall of Science allows users to participate in and facilitate activities that teach about freshwater ecosystems. For example, families and educators have the opportunity to view videos and discover what lies beneath the surface with an “Under the Lake” simulation. The DIY Lake Science app is all inclusive – material lists, instructions, and explanations of how to participate in a day of exploring inside or outside are readily available and are displayed in a detailed and informational format. This app is free on iTunes, available for iOS 7 and above.