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  • Writer's pictureYouth Energy Squad

Water Cycle In A Bowl

Water covers about 71% of earth's surface. We need water for life to exist on Earth and require it for drinking, growing food, and many other important things like washing ourselves and our clothes. But where does it all come from? With this activity we’ll take a look at the water cycle, and create our own water cycle model out of household items.


Goals: Age: K-7

  • Learn the water cycle

  • Critical thinking

Supplies Time: 30 minutes

  • Hot water (with parental supervision)

  • 1 large bowl

  • 1 small bowl or cup that can fit inside the large bowl

  • Plastic Wrap

  • Ice

  • Food Coloring (optional)



Watch a short video about the water cycle, and take a look at the water cycle diagram below. Then follow the instructions to create your very own water cycle in a bowl. When you are done, answer the reflection questions at the end of the lesson.



  1. Gather your materials and lay them out on your work surface.

2. With the help of an adult, get your hot water, and pour it into the large bowl. If you have food coloring, add it to your water. This represents surface water, such as oceans, lakes, or streams.

3.Next, carefully put your small bowl or cup inside the larger one. Remember the water’s hot. The small cup or bowl represents dry land. It could be your neighborhood, your school, or somewhere else. (Add your food coloring If you have it)

4. Put plastic wrap over the top of the bowl, making sure it is on tight.

5.Lastly, place one or two ice cubes on top of your plastic wrap, right over the small bowl or cup. This represents the cooler sky / atmosphere, where condensation like clouds and rain form.

6.Wait at least 10 minutes. You should start to see condensation building up inside your bowl. Remove the plastic wrap to take a closer look.


Reflection Questions

  • Take a look at your small bowl or cup. Is there anything in it?

  • If there was water in your small bowl or cup, what part of the water cycle do you think this was?

  • Bonus Question: If you added food coloring, did the water in your small cup look colored or clear?

  • Condensation is when water turns from a vapor into a liquid. What are some ways that you see condensation everyday?

  • Can you think of any ways that you interact with the water cycle in your day to day life?

  • Think about the water cycle. Where does the water from rain end up?

  • One thing the water cycle we talked about doesn’t have are cities. Rain often falls into bodies of water, or onto the ground, where it is soaked up by plants or becomes groundwater. But what do you think happens to rain in cities like Detroit?

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