Home Works Elementary Education Distance Learning Curriculum

Developed by Olivia H.

Edited by Maggie M.

Photo of Olivia H

Essential Question:

How does water travel? What is the water cycle and how is it important?

Background Knowledge:

  • Children should know the phases of the water cycle (condensation, evaporation, precipitation).
  • Children should know how heat changes the physical state of matter (water).


  • Four Plastic Cups  
  • Water  
  • Ice Cube  
  • Shaving Cream  
  • Food Coloring  
  • Markers 
  • Pencil 
  • Notebook (Science Journal)  

Safety Protocols:

Children should handle the hot water with care. Ask a parent or guardian for help.

Activity Procedure:

Step 1: Grab all of your materials before we start the investigation!  

Step 2: Make a spot in your science journal for “Evaporation.” Give a definition of what you think evaporation means.  

Step 3: Fill up one of your plastic cups with water (almost completely full). Use one of your markers to make a line at the beginning water level where you filled your cup up. Place your cup on a windowsill, or countertop, where sunlight comes through.  

What do you think will happen to the level of the water? 

Step 4: In your science journal, draw a sketch of what the cup looks like in the first hour. Every hour, check back in on your cup, marking the new water level lines with your marker. Make sure to keep sketches in your science journal. Give detailed observations of what happened to the cup, and the water inside.

What has happened to the level of the water? Why do you think this is happening? How is this similar to the water cycle in the atmosphere? 

Step 5: Label the next free page in your journal, “Condensation.” Give a quick definition of what you think condensation means.  

Step 6: Fill your cup about halfway- two/thirds full of hot water. (The water does not need to be boiling. If it is boiling, it will melt the cup.)  Take another cup and flip it upside down on top of the cup with hot water. Place an ice cube on top of the upside-down cup.  

How will the hot water impact the ice cube? How is this similar to the water cycle in the atmosphere? 

Step 7: Condensation will begin to form at the top of the upside-down cup. Record your observations in your science journal and draw a picture of the cup. 

Step 8: On the next page of your science journal, write “Precipitation.” Give a definition of what you think precipitation means.  

Step 9: With your last cup, fill it almost full of water. Spray a generous amount of shaving cream on top of the water. Put several drops of food coloring on top of the shaving cream. Record your observations in your science journal and draw a picture of the cup.

What happened to the food coloring? How is this similar to water cycle in the atmosphere? 

Step 10: Lastly, create a chart in your science journal similar to the one below. Use all three parts of the water cycle and give examples of how you have observed them in the experiment, and in your own life.  

Step 11: With parent/guardian permission, share the results of your activity on social media using #AUHomeWorks!

Evaporation Condensation Precipitation
Examples in the Experiment
Examples in My Life

Last modified: November 12, 2020