All About the Water Cycle

Water is all around you, and it is used for many things. You drink it when you're thirsty, and you bathe in it when you're dirty. When it is hot outside you can go to a pool or the beach and swim in it. People also use water to wash their cars and clean their clothes. In fact, most of the planet that you live on is made up of water. You might wonder how there is so much of it when we use it for so many different things. The answer to that is something called the water cycle. The water cycle is the Earth's way of naturally recycling water. The water goes through different stages over and over again. During these stages the water may even change so that it is no longer liquid! Because the water is always going around the cycle it is actually very old water. The water is so old that it goes back to when dinosaurs like the T-Rex walked the Earth! Learning about the different stages will help you understand what water goes through and how there is so much of it.

Evaporation

If you think of the water cycle in stages, then evaporation is the first stage. When the sun is high up in the sky it warms up the Earth. The Earth gets so warm that the water in the ocean, rivers, lakes, and even puddles and pools begins to turn into gas. This gas is called vapor. The vapor begins to rise up into the air. When this happens it is called evaporation.

Transpiration

Transpiration is another type of evaporation. The difference is where the water comes from. With transpiration water comes up from the roots of plants to the leaves. When the water is on the leaves, it is heated by the sun and turns into vapor. Just like with evaporation the vapors rise into the air.

Condensation

After water turns into vapor it rises up and up into the air. Eventually it comes into contact with cool air. This cool air turns the vapor back into water. This is called condensation. If the air is very cold then the water may turn into ice or snow. Condensation often happens up in the clouds.

Precipitation

When rain, snow, or hail falls from the sky you are seeing precipitation. Precipitation happens when a cloud becomes very heavy with condensation. The cloud is so full that it can no longer hold those droplets, ice or snow. Gravity pulls the drops of water down so that it falls back to the earth. This is precipitation.

Sublimation

Sometimes, precipitation in the form of ice or snow doesn't make it all the way to the ground. Instead they evaporate and turn into a vapor while falling through the air. When a solid like ice doesn't melt before it evaporates it is called sublimation.

Collection

Collection happens after precipitation happens. There are different ways that collection happens. One way is for melted snow and rain water to travel over the dirt and soil before collecting into rivers and lakes and eventually the ocean. This type of collection is called "Run-Off." When rain or melted snow sink into the earth it becomes a part of the water supply under ground. Underground water is what feeds plants and trees. This type of collection is called "Infiltration." Collection is the end of the water cycle. After collection the cycle starts each stage over again.

  • Water Cycle Resources: Kids who want to know what is the water cycle will find great links to websites that explain it. Most of the links are to websites that are kid-friendly.

  • Weather/Water Cycle: Find links to videos and activities about water and the water cycle by clicking on this link. Kids interested in learning about climate and severe weather conditions will also like this page.

  • The Water Cycle: Learn About it & See it in Action: The Water Project has put a list of links to websites that will help explain the water cycle and what it is. Other links on the page will help kids understand the words used to explain the water cycle.

  • Information on the Water Cycle: Open up new links to other websites and interactive games by clicking on this link. Read about the water cycle's six processes as well.

  • Nenana River Project Some Water Basics - The Hydrological Cycle: Look over an image of the water cycle on this page to see exactly how it works. At the bottom of the page there are links to definitions, a water cycle guide and some interesting water cycle facts.

  • Wellsville Water Treatment Plant - Links: Kids and their teachers will find many links about water and answer any question about what is the water cycle.

  • The Global Water Cycle - USGCRP Program Element: The US Global Change Research Program has included this article about research involving the global water cycle. This is a good article to read with parents or teachers to better understand it.

  • H2O - The Water Cycle: Study the meaning of the words that are used to explain the water cycle. This link includes words such as sublimation, evaporation, precipitation, and more.

  • Water Cycle Resources: Links to games, songs, and videos are listed on this page. There is also a link to further information that includes water cycle facts and definitions.

  • Hydrosphere Links: The Planet Diary website includes a list of links to Planet Diary activities and cool water related websites.

  • Kids' Crossing: Water, Water Everywhere: A fun interactive website where kids can learn water. Mouse over the image at the top of the page and click on the words to learn more about what they mean. The page also has links to water and weather games, activities, and more.

  • The Water Cycle for Kids: Print out a colorful and fun diagram that shows how the water cycle works. The diagram makes it easy to understand and is great for kids in elementary school.

  • Weather and the Water Cycle: A quick and simple explanation the water cycle. The page also includes a short list of neat water cycle facts.

  • The Water Cycle Video: Watch and learn about the water cycle by clicking on this link to the Environmental Protection Agency, also known as the EPA. This interactive animation is a fun way to learn how water naturally recycles.

  • Round & Round it Goes! The Water Cycle: On this page by Environmental Education for Kids website click on the image to learn about the different parts of the water cycle. To the right of the image there are also clickable links to fun activities about water.

  • Droplet and the Water Cycle Game: Play this educational water cycle game on the For Kids Only NASA Earth Science website.

  • DC Water for Kids - Water Cycle: The water cycle maze on this page includes an explanation of each stage of the cycle.

  • Water Cycle Introduction: Learn how much water there is on the surface of the Earth and how much of it is fresh by reading this introduction page.

  • Water Kids - The Water Cycle: This page includes information about water including the water cycle. Kids reading this page will learn how water recycles and how old water is.

  • Water Cycle Definitions: Kids can read the definitions for the four main water cycle stages.

  • Study Jams: The Water Cycle: Click on this link and watch a fun video about the water cycle. The page even has a link to test yourself about the water cycle.

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