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Water Cycle Role Play

Water cycle role play-01


  1. blue painter's tape
  2. clear plastic cup of water
  3. white, blue, or gray tulle scarves, about 18" square
  4. music that evokes running water, water vapor, and thunderstorms (Beethoven's
  5. "Sixth Symphony" and Debussy's "Snowflakes Are Dancing" work well)


  1. Starting at one end of the room, put blue tape on the floor in a pattern that resembles streams and rivers flowing from different directions towards each other, merging into a single large river. Make an "ocean" by taping parallel lines across the end of the "river."
  2. Introduce the activity by holding up a clear, plastic cup of water. Explain that water travels a very long way to reach us. Point to the tape on the floor and tell them it represents rivers, streams, and the ocean. Water travels from mountains in little streams that flow together into bigger streams and rivers, which flow all the way to the ocean.
  3. Talk about the "water cycle." Explain that when sunshine warms the water it evaporates, which means it turns into water vapor (an invisible gas) that floats up through the air. High in the sky the vapor cools and turns back into water droplets. Water droplets and vapor gather together to form clouds. When the drops get too heavy, they fall to the ground as rain. If the air is very cold, the water vapor turns into snowflakes made of ice crystals.
  4. Demonstrate water vapor, cooling, condensation, and freezing using hot water and ice cubes, if desired.
  5. Encourage the children to imagine they are raindrops falling from the sky into a little stream in the mountains. Wiggle your fingers and lower your arms to suggest rain. Play gently flowing music, such as "The Moldau" by Bedrick Smetana.
  6. Now the children are water drops flowing along in the live stream, bouncing around the rocks and spinning in whirlpools. Have them move closer as all the "streams" flow into a big "river." Tell them the sun is shining down on them, and they are getting warmer and lighter.
  7. Change the music to "Snowflakes Are Dancing" or other ethereal music. Give each child a tulle scarf. Encourage them to twirl the scarves as they rise, moving slowly and gracefully and waving their arms.
  8. Now they are "water vapor" floating up into the sky. Move close together and form big, puffy "clouds." As they "cool off" they get heavier and form raindrops.
  9. Have the children move closer together and bunch up their tulle to look like a big cloud. Change the music to suggest a thunderstorm.
  10. Tell them they are very heavy and are falling from the cloud, down to the earth in a big storm. The children move faster as the music gets exciting. Encourage them to jump and spin as they pretend to be blown by the wind.
  11. Lead them in moving slowly and quietly as you change the music to peaceful, flowing music from the beginning. The sun comes out and the storm is over. The river flows smoothly again. More to do Sand and Water: Build mountains and valleys in the sandbox or sand table. Pour water to show stream flow patterns.

Book: The GIANT Encyclopedia Of Learning Center Activities For Children 3 to 6
Center: Science/Discovery/Nature
Topic: Water
Content: Science
Area: Cognitive
Age: 3 through 4 Years Old
Interaction: Large Group

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