Explaining The Water Cycle to Kids

The water cycle is one of the most exciting scientific facts, and makes drinking water super exciting for kids! Children love knowing that the water they just took a sip of has been around for billions of years and may at one point have filled the oceans, sustained life or even fallen from the sky as rain.  

Knowing how to explain the water cycle to your kids is a great hack if you want to encourage them to drink more water and stay hydrated. Take a look at the best ways to explain the water cycle to kids, so that they understand more about the power of water.

What is the water cycle?

The water cycle is the process in which water moves around the Earth, transporting from the oceans, to the atmosphere and to land. It is a great process for children to learn about, as it teaches them how interconnected the Earth is, and how important it is to support sustainable use of water. It also makes drinking water a lot more exciting for them, as they realise that water is a natural material that has existed for nearly 4 billion years! We know that for about 3.8 billion years water has been recycled by the Earth which enabled it to support all life - including human life. 


Key points of the water cycle

The water cycle can be split into 4 key stages - all of which children will probably recognise. Each stage helps water change state, so that it can be moved between the oceans, land and atmosphere. It can be thought of as a way for the Earth to “share” water with every part and ensure that all of it’s systems run smoothly. Children might also be interested to learn that water is what makes our planet unique and special - it is the only planet that we know of that has liquid water in ocean form at present. 

Here are the four stages of the water cycle and how you might explain them to kids:


Evaporation happens when the sun heats up liquid water, and causes it to transform into a gas or vapour. It is the primary way that liquid water moves into the atmosphere and can then be recycled.  

A good example of water evaporating is how clothes dry in the sun over time, or how when you look at a puddle in the heat you can sometimes see vapour coming off of it and the puddle will shrink. Evaporation happens in many different ways across the Earth, however the main form of evaporation in the water cycle is the evaporation of seawater.


As this water rises from liquid form into gas, it then cools again and turns back into liquid. This forms clouds in the sky, which can be transported across the Earth.  Kids may be interested to learn that clouds have a different temperature and pressure to normal air, because they are full of evolving water. These changes to the atmosphere make an aeroplane lift higher or lower when in flight, and this is why turbulence can often be felt when flying through clouds


Precipitation can come in many forms, but a great example is rain. When water condenses, the droplets of water in the clouds become heavy, and naturally fall from the sky as the air can no longer hold them. Precipitation allows water to move around, and fall on a different area to where it was collected.


Collection refers to the way that water is collected to form oceans, rivers, lakes etc. This process links to the starting point of evaporation, and the cycle continues. The water cycle continues to go on and on like this as it has for the past 3.8 billion years, giving us water and sustaining life on planet Earth.

Coty | Greens Steel Wellness Contributor 

Pennsylvania, USA


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