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Water Cycle Drama - USU Water Cycle

Time Frame

1 class periods of 15 minutes each


Utah LessonPlans


Students will learn the different parts of the water cycle by acting them out. They will play a game similar to charades.



"Note cards" (pdf). Copy and cut out cards so that there are enough cards for each student in the class to have one.

Background for Teachers


Water does not disappear with our use of it in irrigation, manufacturing, or consumption. The water we have now is the water we had at the beginning of time. Water forms, dissipates, and forms again in a cycle called the hydrologic or water cycle.

The water cycle is a gigantic circulation system operating in the atmosphere and on the earth's lands and oceans. Being a cycle, there is no beginning or ending, but for illustration, let's begin with the waters of the ocean, which cover about threefourths of the earth.

Water from the surface of the ocean EVAPORATES, while water given off by plants TRANSPIRATES. This combined water is referred to as EVAPOTRANSPIRATION. Here the water enters into the atmosphere and in turn cools and CONDENSES into clouds, and falls back to the earth's surface as PRECIPITATION.

Precipitation that falls as rain, hail, dew, snow, or sleet is important to all living things. After wetting the foliage and the ground, some of the precipitation RUNS OFF into streams and other waterways. This is the water that often causes erosion and is the main contributor to floods. Not all of the precipitation runs off. Some of it pools and becomes available for evaporation. Some of it slowly PERCOLATES or INFILTRATES (soaks in) through the ground. Some of it resurfaces at springs, while some seeps to maintain and replenish streams during dry periods. Streams eventually lead back to the oceans, where the water is again evaporated into the atmosphere.

Instructional Procedures


  1. Explain to the students that they are going to "act out" or pantomime the water cycle.
  2. Have the students blindly pick a note card.
  3. Have the students begin to act out the word on their card. Without talking to anyone, they are to group themselves with students they think have the same card (they will know this by watching the actions of the rest of the group). When everyone has found a group, have the students sit down.
  4. One at a time, have the groups stand and show the rest of the class their action. Have the other students guess what their word was.
  5. Have the students in each group choose a leader. The leader from each group will then dramatize the entire water cycle. Suggestions: 1) the water cycle is not linear, so the students should not be standing in a line, 2) the water cycle is not two dimensional, encourage up and down variations, and 3) there is no proper beginning or ending -- it's a cycle.

Discuss the water cycle with the students. Ask them how they chose the action for each part of the water cycle. Were some actions easier to figure out than others? Did all the people in the individual groups have the same actions? Remind the students of this activity at a later time. Can they still remember the water cycle?


Have each group draw their water cycle element on a large sheet of butcher paper. Fill in the cycle with homes, schools, mountains, highways, industries, construction sites, etc., and discuss how each area affects the water cycle.

These activities can be used to enhance or reinforce concepts and vocabulary words learned in the preceding lessons.


This lesson plan was developed by the Utah State University Water Quality Extension.

Created: 10/03/2012
Updated: 02/16/2022