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daily activities



Wild Weather

Water Cycle Weirdness

Did you know that the water you drink today is the same water that dinosaurs drank? (For real.) Earth has been recycling water for over 4 billion years through the water cycle. If you've ever left a bowl of water outside on a hot summer day and noticed that it's gone the next day, you've witnessed the water cycle in action. Today you'll learn all about it, build a model of your own, and understand how the water cycle influences some of our planet's wildest weather.

what you’ll need

  • A computer, tablet, or mobile phone and access to the internet
  • Pens, markers, and a permanent marker
  • A glass jar (a jam jar works well)
  • A paper plate or bowl
  • Ice
  • Hot water and room temperature water
  • A zip lock bag
  • Food coloring (preferably blue)
  • Clear tape



Ask About Today

What's one type of climate you didn't understand before today? What part of the world has that climate?

Dinner Discussion

If you could create your own ideal system of weather, what would the weather be like and what would you name it? (Ours would be "sunny with a chance of barbecues.")

Skip the Ads

Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.

Weekly Materials

This week's materials list includes a few items that are a little more unusual—like styrofoam plates, baby oil, and food coloring. If you can find them, we think they make for some really cool experiments. If you can't, no worries, just skip ahead.


30-60 minutes

Bomb cyclone? Blood rain? Dive in and find out just how extreme the weather can get—all thanks to the water cycle.


Extreme Weather Events

Before we get into the water cycle in depth, let's look at the kinds of extreme weather it can cause.


Remember: Online videos often start with advertisements. (Annoying, we agree!) Click the "Skip" button as soon as you can to move ahead to the video.


The Science of Weather

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of extreme weather in action, take a look at the science behind the weather.


Recycled Water

Rain is an important element of weather. But have you ever wondered how the rain gets into the clouds and why it falls down to Earth? Find out how the Earth recycles its water in this video from NBC and the National Science Foundation.

For younger explorers

What's In a Cloud?

What is a cloud made of? And why don't they fall right out of the sky? Let's find out.

For younger explorers

Kinds of Clouds

There's more than one kind of cloud in the sky. Find out more about different types of clouds.


30 minutes

Now that you've got the basics of the water cycle down, it's time to make your own.


DIY Rain

To make your own water cycle, you'll use ice cubes on a paper plate on top of a jar of hot water. The ice will cause the moisture in the warm air to condense and form water droplets. This is the same thing that happens in the atmosphere. Warm, moist air rises and meets colder air high in the atmosphere. The water vapor condenses and forms precipitation that falls to the ground. Follow the step-by-step directions here to make it rain!

For younger explorers

DIY Rain, Jr.

Grab an adult or big sib to help with the hot water in the activity above. Then get to it!


15-30 minutes

When you look out the window and grab your raincoat or layer on an extra sweater, what's really going on?


All About H2O

For a more in-depth understanding of the water cycle, dive into this National Geographic article.


Pro Tip: Use the buttons by the top of the article to adjust the text to match your reading level, so you can read the information confidently.


Climate 101

It might be sunny outside where you are, but around the world, people are experiencing all different kinds of weather at any given moment. This is because of climate, the prevailing weather conditions of a region over many years, which are caused by factors like the geography of a place and the Earth’s tilt towards the sun. But humans also contribute to climate—and climate change—through our actions. Read up on climate, then use the key to the left of the page to explore different climate types around the world.

For younger explorers

In the Rain

Read along with the story In The Rain by Elizabeth Spurr.

For younger explorers

Hey, Water

Then, read along to the story Hey, Water by Antoinette Portis.


15-30 minutes

Have some fun with your new scientific knowledge.


Falling Letters

Help the mouse catch the falling letters to spell weather-related words you’ve learned today. But watch out for the cat! (Don't be fooled: This game is deceptively hard.)

For younger explorers

Draw the Weather

Draw a picture of what the weather looks like outside today. Don't forget to add things like the grass, flowers, and animals that benefit from changes in the weather, too.


30-60 minutes

Time to get dancing—to celebrate the weather.


Rain Dance Traditions

Water is essential to human life. Because of that, many of our ancestors across different cultures worshipped water and even performed ceremonies to celebrate it. These ceremonies are often known as rain dances, and in many cultures, these dances were and still are performed to honor and welcome rain and to cleanse the Earth. Take a look at this one performed by Wuauquikuna, a group formed by two brothers from Ecuador.


Rain Dance...With a Twist

Take a look at this alternative kind of "rain dance," choreographed by Nick Pauley to the song (you guessed it) "Rain Dance" by Whilk and Miskey.


Choreograph Your Own

Now go for it and create your own weather-honoring dance. What type of weather would your movement represent? Choose your own unique outfit, music, and movement to celebrate a kind of weather you love.

more to explore

15-30 minutes

All about the weather? Explore some more!


Storm Slideshow

Check out some incredible storm photos taken by professional storm chasers in this National Geographic slideshow. (Be sure to read the captions; you'll be shocked by these storms!)