Evaporation and the Water Cycle
demonstrationactivity exercisesuggested grade levels: 2- 4
view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

The water cycle is imperative to life on earth. Without the water cycle there would be no rain and life on land would not exist. This activity might be very useful in introducing the water cycle to students. Evaporation must occur in order for water to get into the atmosphere.

Small containers with hot water Food coloring
Paint brushes Salt

1. Expose students to the Digital Atlas of Idaho. The section on Climatology might be very useful when explaining the water cycle. To get there: Click on Atlas Home, Climatology, then on cloud imaging.
2. Scroll down to the links on the types of clouds and click on them. Point out that evaporation had to occur in order for the moisture to get into the atmosphere. Point out that evaporated water can condense back to a liquid state.
3. Explain that water evaporates from the oceans, freshwater sources, plants, and from the land. It then goes back into the atmosphere and condenses as clouds and eventually falls back to earth as rain, sleet, hail, or snow.
4. Obtain several containers with hot water, and then dissolve as much salt as you can into these containers. Add a different color of food coloring to each of these containers; add enough so the solution is dark.
5. Give students paintbrushes and paper for them to paint a landscape picture with clouds. Allow drying overnight.
6. Examine paintings the next day and ask students what they think happened. Notice the salt is on the paper but the water is gone.
7. Set the coloring containers out to dry over the next week and observe the disappearance of the water.

Questions for class discussion:
   1. What happened to the water?
   2. Why did the salt stay behind?
   3. What will happen to the water that evaporated?
   4. Where else does evaporation occur?

Handouts/Activity links:
These are links to access the handouts and printable materials.
cloud imaging

Related Lesson Topics:
Climatology: Climatology

Lesson Plan by James Scannell and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: