Different ways to make a water cycle

All living things need water, as is an essential part of life. Earth has a limited amount of water, but it is continually recycled.

The water cycle has four stages:

  • Evaporation

Energy from the sun heats up rivers, lakes and the ocean causing some of the water to evaporate into the air as water vapour ( this is a gas ).

  • Condensation

As the water vapour rises it cools and turns back into a liquid to form clouds.

  • Precipitation

When clouds get too full of water they become heavy and water falls back to Earth as rain, hail or snow.

  • Collection

Rain water runs off the ground collecting in rivers, lakes and oceans where the cycle starts again.



Did you know water can exist in three forms: liquid ( water ), solid (ice ) or gas ( water vapour )

The mini water cycle below models what happens to water on Earth. The water in the bowl evaporates and then condenses as it rises and cools before dripp

ing back into the bowl. You should find the cup now contains “rain water”.



Learning Outcomes

  • Understand that there are four main stages of the water cycle. 
  • Create a model of the water cycle.
  • Understand that water collects in streams and rivers and then finds its way back to the sea.


Mini Water Cycle


A plastic bowl (mixing bowl size)

Cling film

A mug

String or tape





  1. Place the mug in the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Pour water into the bowl so it reaches about two thirds of the way up the mug.
  3. Use a sharpie to mark the water level.
  4. Cover the bowl tightly with cling film and secure with string or tape.
  5. Watch what happens.



Water Cycle in a bag



  1. Use the sharpies to draw the sea at the bottom of the bag, the sun in one top corner and clouds in the second top corner.
  2. Pour a little water into the plastic bag, so it reaches the water line you’ve drawn.
  3. Add food colouring if you want the water to look blue.
  4. Attach the bag to a sunny windowsill using tape and check every couple of hours.
  5. You should find that condensation forms on the inside of the bag. This is from the water evaporating due to heat from the sun, and then condensing into water droplets on the side of the bag. 

Extension ideas

  • Create a paper plate water cycle using your new knowledge about the four processes involved.
  • Imagine you’re a rain drop, write a paragraph about how it feels to be at each stage of the water cycle.


Top tips

Water cycle models work much faster if you leave them in a sunny spot.