Welcome to Nature’s Classroom, the Illinois River Watershed Partnership’s resource for both formal and non-formal educators. Here you’ll find lesson plans and classroom activities that will enhance your students’ understanding of our watershed while fulfilling or exceeding curriculum standards. 

Did you know that October 5th is World Teacher’s Day?  Teachers around the globe have the power to inspire our world’s next generation of leaders and to instill valuable lessons in these students’ lives. Here at the Illinois River Watershed Partnership, we celebrate teachers who plant the seeds of stewardship and personal accountability into young hearts and minds, so in this edition of Nature’s Classroom, we offer a few educational tools and resources to assist in these efforts.
Water Cycle Bracelets/Keychains
Evaporation, condensation, precipitation…you know the drill!  This activity is all about understanding the cycle of water.  The water cycle is a complex system that can be tricky to tackle with younger age groups, but using visual aids is the key to getting your students to grasp it. Students will associate different colored beads with each step in the water cycle, and most will enjoy creating a craft that they can wear.




For a class of 30 students, here’s what you’ll need for this activity (materials available from the IRWP if needed):
40 pieces of thick string or yarn (8 to 10 inches in length)
40 dark blue beads
40 yellow beads
40 clear beads
40 white beads
40 light blue beads
40 green beads
40 red beads


Water Cycle Braclets at Secchi Day

Making Water Cycle Bracelets at Water Cycle Bracelets at Secchi Day

Begin this activity by talking about large bodies of water that your students have visited before (oceans, gulfs, lakes), and explain that those bodies of water are always changing and that each drop has made an incredible journey to end up where it is today.

Be sure to have your students tie a large knot (larger than the beads’ opening) about two-thirds of the way down the string to prevent beads from falling off.  As you describe each step in the water cycle, have your students add a bead to their bracelet in the correct sequence (dark blue for surface water; yellow for sun; clear for evaporation; white for condensation; light blue for precipitation; green for infiltration and transpiration; red for humans and animals that use the water).

Water Cycle Bracelet

Once all beads have been added, tie another knot on the opposite end of the beads in order to secure them in the center of the string.  Voila!  These bracelets are a fun, crafty, and clever way to help your students recognize the incredible journey of every water drop!



For more information about IRWP Education Programs, download a copy of our Watershed Sanctuary Guide, and subscribe to UpstreamMatters.com to get regular updates on lesson plans and activities for kids.

We encourage you and your class to visit the Watershed Sanctuary in Cave Springs, Arkansas, for educational programming facilitated by our staff!  Email us at Team@IRWP.org to arrange a project for your classroom.


Related Posts:

Clean Water Raingers: The Lesson is in the Music


Additional Resources:

Clean Water Raingers Program

IRWP: Learning and Fun