To help the children learn the cycle of life water takes we make a bracelet. Using small strips of leather (inexpensively purchased at a local craft store) we string different colored beads to represent the different stages. Start with a white bead, (the clouds), then a light blue bead (the rain), then a brown bead (the earth where the rain lands), then a yellow bead (the sun is shining on the earth), then a clear bead (evaporation), then another white bead (the water is again in the clouds)!! You will be amazed at how the children will recall over and over again how it works.
To show the rain cycle to my pre-k’rs, I put 1/2 cup water in a sandwich size plastic bag. I explain to the children that this is a pretend puddle that will help us to find out where water goes. I hang it with some tape on a window in the sunlight. Now we will wait and see what the sun does to puddles. After the bag has hung for a few hours, we look on the sides of the bag for condensation. I will tell the children that clouds are made of little drops of water like those on the bag. After condensation has occurred, I will hold some ice against the top of the bag and then additional water should condense. Some water will drop from the top of the bag while the children watch. The cool air high in the sky does the job of the ice and makes rain fall out of the real clouds like we can make “rain” fall from our pretend clouds.