MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Investigating the water cycle "snow fun"

Investigating the water cycle "snow fun"

Mary Kay Rice
Hale Elementary School
Minneapolis, MN
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In this teacher directed inquiry indoor lab students collect snow in a cup. They will estimate how much water will be in the cup after the snow melts. Students will then make predictions about what will happen to the cup of water. After the water has evaporated look at cups and ask questions. Refill the cups with snow and have students try to find ways to keep the water from evaporating.

Learning Goals

This activity is designed for students to question where does the water go? Why is more snow equal to less water? Children will question where the water went and how to keep it from disappearing.

1) Water left in an open container disappears.
2) Water in a closed container does not disappear.
3) Snow left at room temperature will melt
4) Snow takes up more room than water.


Context for Use

Context: Kindergarten classroom whole class activity. Class size: 23 students. Each child will need two clear plastic cups, a permanent marker to share for marking cups (1 per table), and science journals. This activity will take several days. The students should have accessibility to snow; water can be used instead of snow for the evaporation part (just take out the prediction part)

Subject: Chemistry
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity, Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Primary (K-2)

Description and Teaching Materials

Each student is given a clear 7 oz. plastic cup. Take the class outside and have them put snow in their cup. You may also want to do this a head of time or at lunch and have a large Tupperware container of snow in the classroom for them to scoop from. After everyone has a cup of snow ask students, "What do you think will happen to the snow if we leave the cups on the table?" "Why will this happen?" When the students say there will be water in the cup not snow ask them, "How much water do you think will be in the cup?" Use the marker to make a horizontal line on your cup where you estimate the water will be. In your journals draw a picture of what you think your cup will look like tomorrow when you get to school.

Day 2: The next day, look at the water in the cup. How was your estimation? Too high or too low? Why do you think that happened? What does the water look like? This might produce a nice discussion on the snow looking clean but is actually dirty. Does anyone know why? What could cause that to happen? Journal what the cup looked like and write about their prediction (too high etc). Next, split a new journal page into 4 parts for days 1-4. What do you think your cup will look like on each day?

Day 3: Observe cups; what happened to the water your cup? Why and were did it go? How can we keep the water in the glass? Brainstorm.
Try as many of the brainstorms as possible. Discuss with the class anything the brainstorms have in common (like covering the top). Set a cup upside down on top of the other cup and tape them together. The bottom cup should have water in it with the water level marked. Place the cup by a window or on a table they can see. Have them journal what it looks like to them and write or draw what they think it will look like tomorrow. Watch closely; what happens over the next few days?

Teaching Notes and Tips


Students are keeping journals of predictions and outcomes. Journals will be used as an assessment tool. Class discussions and brainstorm ideas can be used informally to track students thinking strategies.


Standard Match
Earth and Space

Grade K 111 Earth science B1 sub strand the water cycle. The student will observe weather changes. Benchmark water left in an open container disappears but water in a closed container does not disappear.

References and Resources