Evaporation Station

Two handprints

What Is This Activity?

What happens to the water after it rains? It doesn't just disappear! Explore with your child to see how sun, shade, and wind affect how water evaporates. TIP: This activity works best on a warm, sunny day. If it is damp or raining, check out "Play With Puddles" in the "Explore Some More" section at the end of this activity.


What Are Kids Learning?

  • Evaporation is when a liquid changes into a gas. Liquid water evaporates to become a gas called water vapor.
  • The sun's heat helps water evaporate and return to the atmosphere. There, it turns from water vapor back into liquid water and forms a cloud. Eventually, this water may return to Earth as rain or snow.
  • In the water cycle, water moves from the land, lakes, and oceans to the atmosphere and back again.

Activity 60 minutes

Kaya is painting

Part A Paint with Water

  1. Fill a container with water. Gather the materials, head outside and:

    • Find a paved area, such as a sidewalk or driveway, that has both sunny and shady areas.
    • In a sunny spot, dip a brush into the water. Write your names with water, or "paint" a picture on the pavement. Outline the paintings with sidewalk chalk.
    • Sketch the paintings in your notebook, or take pictures of them.
    • Repeat the steps above in the shade.
  2. Have your child make a prediction!

    • What will your painting look like if we come back in 10 minutes? Half an hour?
    • Why do you think it might look that way?
  3. Spend about 10 minutes to half an hour walking around the block or visiting a park.

Part B Disappearing Handprints

Look at the water paintings when you return.

  • Have the water paintings changed?
  • Where do you think the water went?

Then, design an experiment to find out!

  1. Have your child dip a hand in the water, shake off the excess, and make a handprint on construction paper. Place the construction paper in the sandwich bag and seal it up, leaving enough air inside so the top of the bag does not touch the paper.
  2. Make another water handprint. This time, leave the construction paper out (do not put it in a bag).
  3. Place both items in the sun. TIP: The color in construction paper can bleed when wet. Place the items on a cookie sheet or sheet of newspaper if you do not want to stain the surface you place them on.

    • What do they look like now? Make sketches.
    • What will they look like in 10 minutes? Half an hour?
Evaporation outline

Part C Where Did the Water Go?

Check on your water paintings and handprints again.

  • Have they changed? How? Make a sketch and compare it with your first sketch.
  • What do your handprints look like now? What will they look like tomorrow?
  • If they are gone, is there any evidence that there was once water on the paper?The droplets on the inside of the bag came from the water that evaporated.
  • Do you think there is water in the air around us?There always is–it is called water vapor. Sometimes you can feel it, like on a humid day or in the bathroom after a hot shower.

Explore Some More

Play with Puddles

If it has recently rained, or even if it is still raining, go for a walk and note where puddles form. When the rain stops, return to the puddles and outline them with chalk. What do you predict will happen to them? What will they look like after an hour? Are they still there after lunch or dinner?

Cool Down

Give your child paintbrushes and cups of water. Have them paint a picture on the backs of their hands or on their forearms and then blow on it.

  • What happens to the water?
  • How does your hand feel?

As the water on your skin evaporates, it takes some of your body's heat with it. This is why your body feels cooler when you come out of a bath or shower.


evaporation, water cycle

Activity Type


Activity Time

60 minutes

What You'll Need

  • A bucket or other container to hold water
  • Paintbrushes, sponges, or strips of cloth from an old shirt
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Construction paper (2 pieces, each cut to the size of a zippered sandwich bag)
  • A zippered sandwich bag
  • Field notebook and pencil
  • Camera (optional)

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