The Common Core Shift: Short, Focused Research Projects in Elementary Grades

Resources for a SFRP on the Water Cycle


Draper, Mary. Water and Wind.  ISBN: 0-7578-1122-1. No lexile available.  Guided Reading Level: M
This is a succinct explanation of the water cycle from the Rigby PM Plus collection, appropriate as a review or an introduction in a guided reading group.  Especially helpful is the glossary definition of a cycle--”a number of things that follow one another without a finish.”

Hunter, Gus.  Where did all the Water Go?  0-7635-6035-9. No lexile available.  Guided Reading Level: F
Use this book from the Rigby PM Plus collection with the youngest elementary students, and make it available as part of a text set so that older readers who struggle can still access the important concepts.

Karas, G. Brian.   Atlantic.  ISBN: 0-399-23632-5. Lexile: AD730
Though not strictly about the water cycle, this lyrical and complex text touches upon it, along with the tides, storms, and oceans in general.  The voice used is that of the Atlantic itself, which could lead to some interesting discussion.

Lyon, George Ella.  All the Water in the World.  ISBN: 1-41697130-0.  Lexile: AD520
This complex text is perfect for teaching the water cycle, but is also an excellent choice for working with figurative language and alliteration, the central message or theme, and ways in which illustrations extend the text or provide information not found in the words—all standards in the Common Core.

Morrison, Gordon.  A Drop of Water.  ISBN: 978-0-618-58557-1.  No lexile available
This book celebrates the many habitats and plants and animals that water encounters throughout its cycle, and highlights other water vocabulary--puddle, runoff, stream, pond, cloud, swamp, pool, waterfall, and marsh.  Use it with the Reader's Theater script (below) to remind students that the water cycle is not a perfect circle with water coming down and going up in the same spot over and over.

Waldman, Neil.  Snowflake: a Water Cycle Story.  ISBN: 0-7613-1762-7. No lexile available
Waldman uses the months of the year as the structure to tell a narrative story of the journey and transformations of a snowflake over a year's time.  Similar to Lyon's book, you could use portions of it as an assessment tool.  Read relevant chunks from several months and have students identify the part of the cycle that is represented in the text.

Wick, Walter.  A Drop of Water.  ISBN:  0-590-22197-3. Lexile: 870
Water in all of its forms is showcased in this book with amazing stop-action photographs from master photographer Walter Wick.  Magnification allows students to see the tiniest of details in the splash of a drop, the drip from a faucet, dew on a spider web, frost on a window, etc.  The concepts of capillary action, surface tension, condensation, and evaporation are discussed, and experiments for students to conduct are listed at the back.

Online resources

Lesson plan (click to download the Word doc) for a K-1 short, focused research project about the phases of the moon. Prepared by the Vermont Elementary Common Core English Language Arts/Literacy Professional Learning team, it is an excellent example of the short investigations that the Common Core requires. Step by step, it shows teachers how to work with multiple texts and scaffold the process for very young learners. (To further explore the site, you will be prompted to log in or sign up. Non-Vermont teachers can sign up by choosing "other" from the list of schools.) Once your account is APPROVED, you may want to join the K-5 Short, Focused Research Projects in Elementary Grades group.

Reader's Theater script about the water cycle from Enchanted Learning.

Games from about the water cycle.  These could be used for formative assessment to check for student understanding.

Kidzone water cycle page.  This page provides a simple, uncluttered, review or introduction of the basic concepts and vocabulary for the water cycle, with photos.

Lesson plan for simple experiment and simulation.

More experiments from ehow for elementary students.

Water Cycle video, part of Scholastic's Study Jams

Water, Water Everywhere, a simple interactive showing the places “Dewdrop” visits throughout the water cycle. (From the Kids Crossing site of the National Center for Atmospheric Research)





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