Students create three-dimensional clouds and label them with facts, diagrams of the water cycle, and vocabulary words.
- Correctly illustrate and label parts of the water cycle.
- Follow step-by-step directions.
- Raindrop facts, vocabulary arrows and published summary from Lesson One.
- White paper in 18- by 24-inch size. Two sheets per student are needed. If you do not have large sized single sheets then cut white roll paper into the appropriate sizes.
- Four small or two large rolls of crepe paper streamers (This is enough for a class of 24 students, adjust amounts as necessary.)
- Scrap paper for stuffing clouds
- White school glue
- Stapler with staples
- Chart paper
- Markers/crayons/colored pencils
- Curling ribbon or yarn
- Single hole punch
Set Up and Prepare
- Gather all of the necessary materials. Crepe paper streamers can be found in most party supply and general merchandise stores.
- Read through all of the following directions to best understand the sequence of steps you will be using to guide the students.
- Cut ribbon into 24-inch lengths.
- On chart paper or using charts from Lesson One, provide a word bank of the following words: precipitation, evaporation, condensation, water vapor, accumulation, run-off, and groundwater.
Step 1: Review the parts of the water cycle. If the labeled diagram the class drew together in Lesson One, Part III is still available, use that as you lead students to discuss the importance of each part and how they are interrelated. Inform students that they will now have the chance to draw and label their own water cycle diagram.
Step 2: Distribute one large sheet of white paper to each person. Direct them to begin by using their pencils to draw a large cloud on the paper. I model this, showing students how a “large cloud” goes from the top to the bottom and the left side of the paper to the right, taking up most of the available area.
Step 3: Inside this cloud students should draw, label and color their own depiction of the water cycle. Provide a word bank of the following words (precipitation, evaporation, condensation, water vapor, accumulation, run-off, and groundwater) that must be correctly labeled. Remind students to use arrows to denote precipitation and evaporation. Students should title their cloud “The Water Cycle” and include their name.
Step 4: Students cut out their cloud along the outside perimeter they drew in Step 1. Note: I normally provide two class sessions for Steps 1-4. Because of the large scale of the drawing, it often takes students more than one class session to produce a quality product.
Step 5: Distribute a second sheet of blank white paper to students. Have them place their completed, cut-out cloud on top of the blank page. Direct students to trace around their cloud carefully in order to get an exact replica of the first one. Model this for students so they can see how slowly and precisely they need to proceed. After this second cloud has been traced, have students cut it out. Tell students to save their scrap paper that is made from cutting out the cloud.
Step 6: After everyone has their clouds cut out, have them lay their two cloud pieces on top of one another so they form a perfect match. Walk around and check that students have lined the clouds up properly. I find that many students have difficulty putting the two pieces together without assistance.
Step 7: Tell students they will now be making a cloud “pillow.” Model for students how they should put a thin strip of liquid school glue (not glue stick) around the side and top perimeter of their all white cloud. No glue should be placed along the bottom edge of the cloud which needs to remain open so students can stuff it later. The second illustrated cloud should be placed on top of the first cloud, diagram up, and pressed down firmly. Allow several minutes for the two clouds to fuse.
Step 8: Using the scrap paper left over from Step 5, have students crunch the paper then use it to stuff the inside of their cloud. If this is not enough to give the clouds a puffy look, I have students add crumpled magazine pages or any other materials they can recycle to help them fill out their cloud.
Step 9: Have each student cut 4-5 streamers in varying lengths, no shorter than 30 inches and no longer than 36 inches. Have students glue these streamers along the inside bottom of the cloud. The streamers should be evenly spread out along the bottom and the different size lengths should be evenly distributed.
Step 10: Now students can add a think strip of glue to the inside of the bottom of their cloud and press the top part down to seal. The streamers should be sandwiched between the two clouds. Allow a few minutes to dry.
Step 11: Tell students to take out their raindrops and arrows from Lesson One. Direct them to evenly spread their ten raindrops out along the streamers. Next, students should take one color of vocabulary arrows and lay them on the streamers pointing up to represent evaporation. The second color should be laid out pointing downward to represent precipitation. Before students glue these pieces into place I always give a quick check to ensure they have followed directions.
Step 12: On the back of the cloud, students attach the published summary from Lesson One.
Step 13: Finally, each student should punch two holes spaced 8-10 inches apart along the top edge of the cloud. The ribbon should then be strung through both of the holes and tied in one knot.
Step 14: Allow students to choose where they want their clouds hung for display. I find when students are given as much ownership of their projects as possible, down to their final display area, the sense of pride they feel with the completed projected is greatly amplified
Supporting All Learners
There are many directions in Lesson Two that need to be processed for the students to be successful. As a teacher, it is a good idea to make sure your directions are always given in two modes. If you are giving the directions orally, always have them written and posted somewhere for students to read independently. If you do not, your visual learners may have difficulty following your sequence. This is a wonderful project for reaching those students with spatial talents. The assignment also offers a great deal of movement for those students who enjoy working out of their seats.
Have students decorate the back of the cloud, illustrating the water cycle in another geographic locale or during another season. Have students label this cycle appropriately to match the location.
Because many of my projects are done almost entirely in class, I enjoy taking step-by-step digital photographs of the students in action that I can add to newsletters, post to my class homepage or e-mail to parents. This is an easy way to give parents a window into the classroom and into their student's daily work.
- Illustrate, label and cut out their water cycle.
- Follow specific steps to put the project together.
Were the students able to follow your step-by-step directions? Did you model the process thoroughly enough? Did students work well together to assist each other as needed? Were students of all ability levels able to complete this lesson successfully? What would you do differently next time?
- Did students follow the step-by-step directions from beginning to end?
- Did students seek help if needed?
- Were the students proud to hang up their finished product?