Water Cycle Mat – Waseca Biomes

Chemistry 6-9

If you are looking for inspiring children through aesthetic materials, Waseca Biomes is always a winner. After having read about the impressive story of water, my 7 year old learner remembered about the “hydrolic” cycle he learned with his primary teacher. They conducted experiments, constructed projects, prepared a dramatization, and sang a song as they danced:

🎶” Water travels in a cycle, yes it does! It goes up as evaporation, forms clouds as accumulation, and goes down as precipitation, yes it does!” 🎶

So here it is, the gorgeous Water Cycle mat from Waseca. It comes, as always, with a teacher’s guide, and several manipulatives. Waseca is also great at displaying in all honesty the content of their materials on the Website (get $15 off code by entering your email).

The guide suggests introducing the materials in this order:

  • Atmosphere
  • Water Cycle facts
  • Water Cycle work
  • Grammar cards
  • Weather and Climate
  • Clouds

The first presentation on atmosphere contains valuable information such as the etymology of the layers names, distances between each layer, elements, types of man-made devices found in each layer (jets, satellites…), and the sun’s rays effect. My 7 year old can not read the cards and comprehend them as as well his 9 year old sister. You must present the materials and explain what the children might be able to do independently. That is why, I jazzed up the presentation by adding a manipulative from ETC Montessori.

First Presentation – The Atmosphere
Waseca Water Cycle Mat Mixed with ETC Atmosphere Work

The second presentation invites children to explore the four stages of the water cycle (evaporation, condensation, preparation, collection). The Water Cycle mat contains such great details; it is an asset to illustrate each process, and keep learners engaged.

The Water Cycle cards also bring awareness of the scarcity of fresh water. I had the children observe as I was drawing a diagram of the water available for us, based on the information we were reading. We read, 96.5% of the water is in the ocean, 1.7% underground, 1.7% is frozen. What’s left to drink, right?!

Second Presentation – Water Cycle Fact Cards

For the third presentation, you have arrows to read and place on the mat. The control of error is the picture on the back of each arrow (genius!). There’s also a control of error located at the back of the teacher’s guide. I shared the arrows between the children, and referred to the teacher’s guide to read them aloud, in a logical manner. And I have the children pinpoint the arrow in their pile, and place it. There are many suggested extensions at the end of each presentation, and lots of information is scripted for you, so you can be sure that the children are not missing any specific information. Another way to work with the arrows is by classifying them based on which stage they describe.

Third Presentation – Water Cycle Work

For the fourth presentation,Waseca suggests that you present the grammar cards in a Montessori fashion starting with names, articles, adjectives, verbs, etc… You can let the children compose their own phrases, sentences. If like me, you encounter reluctant grammar box users, you may take a diffrent route. I modeled and encouraged mine to use the arrows from the Water Cycle work, in order to compose their first sentences. After composing sentences, they copied them using the Waseca grammar stencil to symbolize each part of speech.

The fifth presentation is on Weather and Climate. I assessed the children prior knowledge, and as expected, they were not sure of the difference between weather and climate. Waseca broke down the knowledge very well. The fact cards defined weather through heat, moisture, wind, and air pressure. Climate is defined through biomes, climate zones, greenhouse gases, rain shadow effect, and climate change. At the end of this presentation, children had a clear understanding of what the difference between weather and climate was. They also learned how mountains can be responsible for deserts (leeward vs. windward), and we will now be observing carefully the next geographical work to spot such events (rain shadow effect).

Weather: Heat, Moisture, Wind, Air Pressure
Sixth Presentation – Clouds

The last, sixth presentation is on Clouds. The day we explored the Clouds presentation was a perfect “cloudish” day. It had just rained, and the sunshine was on its way. We observed what we think were cirrostratus clouds, and a nimbocumulus. Try to say that in English when you speak French!

Again, there are fact cards that contain just enough information to keep the learner engaged. The Clouds presentation includes 12 different common clouds on veneer pods, fact cards for each type of clouds, and a matching chart to show low level, middle level, and high level clouds.

We ended the lesson with the so-expected cotton and cardboard project. I think this helped the children remember some clouds specifically. Outside that day, they guessed what clouds we were seeing. They knew what the forecast might be when seeing certain clouds. They knew some of them are made of water droplets, some of ice crystals, and some of both based on their altitude. Thanks to the Water Cycle Mat.

1st grade work

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