Today we are combining two things that I really enjoy doing with kids -- hands-on science + LEGOS® !
I love taking a not-so-easy-to-explain topic like The Water Cycle and turning it into a hands-on learning activity where you can see their eyes light up as they begin to grasp the concept!
And hands-on science is fun -- but add in a LEGO® challenge and kids will enjoy it even more!
The water cycle might seem like a complex topic but it's really very simple -- only 3 main parts -- and I always love to explain that the water we drink is the SAME water that the dinosaurs drank too (for some reason the idea of dinosaurs drooling in their water is appealing to kids, who knew?! :)
But explaining how that's possible can be a little complicated which is why we're going to BUILD a water cycle project to help take a detailed topic and break it into simple learning steps.
A Water Cycle Project with LEGOS®
LEGOS® are one of the most common building toys in many homes and classrooms. And while we love them for spontaneous building sessions and colorful creations, they are also amazing learning manipulative toy.
A manipulative toy is one that allows a child to develop their motor skills & cognitive skills while playing.
With this project, kids are not only learning about environmental science, they are also honing fine motor skills as they build and expanding their cognitive skills while they visualize how to make the water cycle. In addition to the project details, I'm also including affiliate links to items we used & recommend along with a free printable of science terms for you to use!
Obviously, the first thing you'll need is a bunch of LEGOS® :)
This is a very open ended project -- no specific directions needed! For the water cycle, kids will build a cloud, some land, water and the sun. Ideally, you can use white, green, blue and yellow LEGOS® which are found in most of the traditional LEGO building sets.
If you have yet to purchase a LEGO set for your child, we recommend the LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box. It offers a lot of open-ended building options and has a huge variety of colors (many more than the classic 6 color LEGOS that we had as kids).
We've also found it extremely helpful to have a LEGO Board/Baseplate or LEGO table at home.
This Click N' Play Lego/DUPLO Baseplate Mat is AWESOME as it's portable, can be used with both LEGO & Duplo sets and you can roll it up with all the bricks inside.
A quick science refrsher for all the adults ;)
The water cycle includes three main parts: precipitation, evaporation & condensation.
Basically, clouds produce some type of precipitation (rain/sleet/snow) which falls to Earth and then drains into our waters (lakes/rivers/oceans). As the sun heats the atmosphere, droplets from those bodies of water begin to evaporate into the air (or atmosphere). Once the droplets reach the upper layers of the atmosphere, they condense and form clouds -- and the cycle begins all over again.
Which is why we drink the same water as dinosaurs -- water just recycles itself over and over.
Most kids don't understand that water is a finite resource on our planet. And although this can be a little challenging to explain, it's often one of the early introductions to environmental science and shows them why it's important to take care of our Earth.
We used a LEGO Baseplate to create our water cycle. This allows room for building a large picture while all the LEGOS are attached to the base so it's mobile.
Step 1: Build a cloud and add some rain or snow.
We used some small gray bricks to indicate rainy weather on our project but let the kids go with whatever weather they'd like to create -- you can play Mother Nature and whip up a storm if you'd like.
Step 2: Add some land below the cloud.
You might choose green or brown LEGOS. Or get fancy and add in some trees!
Now you have the first side of the water cycle -- Precipitation.
Step 3: For the next part of the water cycle, add some water next to the land mass.
You can also add a duck -- but totally optional ;)
He just looked lonely sitting in our LEGO box all by himself.
Step 4: Create a sun above the water.
Explain that the second part of the water cycle -- evaporation -- happens because of the heat the sun creates and radiates on bodies of water.
If this is a new concept, read Fun Ways to Teach Kids about Science for some easy ideas on showing kids what evaporation & condensation look like at home.
Your water cycle project should look something like this -- cloud with preciptation, land mass, body of water & sun. The blue LEGOS between the water and sun represent evaporation.
Again, allow room for kids to be creative! If they want a huge land mass with a river running through it, super! That works too.
The last step is explaining how the cycle works and what science terms are used to describe the various parts.
The Water Cycle: Learning Those BIG Words
If you're working with kids under age 8, I suggest focusing on the main three terms -- preciptation, evaporation & condensation -- as they can be a mouthful to say and understand. I always like to use correct terminology no matter how old the child is as I feel it's both beneficial and I NEVER want to underestimate what kids can grasp (believe me, they understand WAY more than we give them credit for on most days!)
If you have kids older than 8 years, you can also add in some of the additional terms which are printed in brown on the list -- runoff, transpiration & collection.
Print off the free list of terms to use as labels on your project. Cut out the arrows and science terms and tape them to LEGO blocks.
Then go through the water cycle and have the kids put the correct term where it occurs on your model.
Here's our completed Water Cycle Project.
You can see we don't have the term 'Transpiration' on our model -- transpiration is essentially evaporation of water from a plant or trees leaves. Since we didn't include any plants or trees in our project, we left this term off and just discussed it.
And no, I don't think we can use it with the duck ;)
A few books that I highly recommend for this activity include:
I'm sure at least one of these can be found at your local libary.
Looking for more STEM ideas?
The STEM Toys & Game Store showcases all the latest & greatest in learning toys for kids so be sure to check out the selection!
For more fun hands-on learning, visit Teaching Kids about Water Conservation too!
20 MORE LEGO® ACTIVITIES
- LEGO Addition Mat for Greater Than/Less Than from Life Over C's
- Duplo Lego Geoboard from Still Playing School
- Duplo Consonant Blends Activity from Learning 2 Walk
- Educational Playtime with Duplo - Sorting, Estimating and Building from Crafty Mama in ME
- LEGO DUPLO Sight Word Towers from Powerful Mothering
- Geometric Blueprints with LEGO from Handmade Kids Art
- Slippery Lego Duplo Fine Motor Practice from Best Toys 4 Toddlers
- Penguin Ice Cube Counting With LEGO from Preschool Powol Packets
- Word Building with LEGOS from Sugar Aunts
- Hands-on Science: Creating a Water Cycle Project using LEGO from Edventures with Kids
- Lego Tower Subtraction Race from The Kindergarten Connection
- Lego: 5 reasons you should use it with your kids from The Usual Mayhem
- Lego Heart Marble Maze from Lemon Lime Adventures
- Dumping Lego Colour Match Activity from Teach me Mommy
- Feed the Duplo Alien from Adventures of Adam
- How To Create A Duplo Block Painting from Raising Little Superheroes
- Letter Sequencing with Lego Duplo from School Time Snippets
- Lego ordering, days of the week from In The Playroom
- Dental Flossing with Duplo from Study at Home Mama
- LEGO Math Ten Frame Games from Lalymom