Have you heard of these words? Precipitation. Evaporation. Condensation.

Girl in rain
Precipitation, evaporation and condensation are all terms that you may be familiar with, but might not mean that much to you. These are all part of the water cycle. The water cycle gives us water to drink, keeps our lakes and oceans full and produces rain to help our plants and crops grow.

Water is constantly being cycled between the atmosphere, the oceans, lakes, and land. As the water evaporates, vapors rise and condense into clouds. As the clouds move over the land, precipitation falls in the form of rain, ice or snow. The falling water fills streams and rivers, and eventually flows back into the oceans where evaporation starts the process all over again.

Now that you’re familiar with the water cycle, let’s take a look at three important terms:

  1. Evaporation – This is the process where a liquid changes into gas. During the water cycle some of the water in the oceans, lakes and rivers is warmed up by the sun and evaporates into the air.
  2. Condensation – This is the opposite of evaporation. Condensation is when a gas is changed into a liquid. When the water cycle goes through condensation small drops of water form in clouds in the sky.
  3. Precipitation – This forms when the temperature and atmosphere are just right. Small drops of water get larger and larger in the clouds until they fall to the ground causing precipitation or rain. This is how water returns to earth.

Sing the Water Cycle Song! (sing to the tune of My Darling Clementine)

Precipitation falling down.
That’s what’s called the water cycle
and it keeps on goin’ ’round.