Literature-Based STEM: The Water Cycle

Can I find literature-based STEM resources? That’s a question I often get when I’m talking about using literature as the foundation of homeschool learning. And, although you sometimes have to look, there are a number of literature-based STEM resources available.

This book-themed post is In the Laboratory. I was excited to have some great books and science experiments to do with my little ones. I’ll confess that I am not the mom who is constantly cooking up great experiments. But, with a little guidance, I can come up with some fun science projects.

Literature-based water cycle study

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As I was pondering what book to choose for this month’s topic, I looked back through some of our Magic School Bus books. Even as the kids have gotten older, they like to read these. In this literature-based STEM activity we read The Magic School Bus At The Waterworks as our jumping-off point, and then we had fun with some water cycle activities.

The two books I used for experiments to go along with our water cycle read were Making Things Change (Science for Fun)
and Janice VanCleave’s Physics for Every Kid.

Water Cycle Video and Craft

After we read about the water cycle, I played the girls a water cycle song I found on YouTube. They were less than thrilled, but it did sum up the water cycle pretty well.

literature-based STEM- water cycle

As a visual reminder, I found this water cycle wheel for the kids to color and construct. It turns and shows the name of each stage of the water cycle as well as what happens during that stage.

water cycle activities
literature-based water cycle activities
literature-based STEM
water cycle activities

Water Cycle Experiments

The first experiment we did came from the Janice VanCleave book. It involved seeing how water collects in clouds until the cloud is saturated, and it rains. We used a folded paper towel and a water dropper as well as one measuring cup with water and an empty measuring cup to do our experiment over.

water cycle experiments

The girls took turns dropping water on the paper towel which we held over the empty cup.

STEM activities

We noticed that as we squirted water on the paper towel, it absorbed the water and none came out into the empty dish.

Literature-based STEM

Eventually, with enough water, the paper towel was saturated and the water began to come out- just like rain!

Water cycle activities

The second experiment we did came from the How Things Change book. This experiment showed how water expanded as it froze. (Yes, it’s not really a water cycle experiment, but it did have to do with water and it was fun.)

Water cycle experiments

In this experiment, we put equal amounts of water into two plastic cups. We drew a line with a marker so that we knew where the water came to. Then we put one cup into the freezer and left one out at room temperature.

We were surprised to see that this experiment didn’t work. In fact, the freezer cup was actually below the mark once the ice had frozen. I dumped the ice and didn’t take pictures because we had a failed experiment. But, a little later, one daughter gave a confession- “I actually spilled some of the water when I put the cup in the freezer.” Aha! It’s the lesson of the experimental variable. And, it is important to point that out when an experiment goes wrong.

literature-based water cycle
water cycle activities
literature-based water cycle

More STEM Sites

Besides the resources I used here, there are some great websites that have ideas and instructions for all kinds of science experiments. So, if you aren’t good at thinking of those- like me!- you have a little help. Here are some I’ve used: has science fair ideasScience Buddies is one of my favorites. It has experiments you can use for a one-time demonstration or some that you can turn into a whole science fair project. Science Bob has some great experiments with good, detailed instructions. Weird Science Kids has experiments and some demonstration videos to watch. Science Kids has a wide range of projects that can be used for short demonstrations or a longer project.  

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