Creating and presenting a preschool activity that all ages of preschoolers can participate in and understand can be a challenge.
I prefer hands-on preschool activities that they can see, do, watch, feel and talk about to help with understanding. A preschool activity needs to grab the attention of a three year old and then create the desire for him/her to explore and be involved.
Water play is an excellent medium for just this kind of preschool activity. When possible, have enough material so that each table can do this experiment, or if that is not possible, use your water table or circle time so that everyone can see and participate.
This activity illustrates the water cycle in action simplified with cotton balls. Give each child a cotton ball and tell them to think of it as a cloud. Ask them to say how the cloud feels- heavy or light, soft or hard.
Next, place the cotton balls overtop of shallow pans filled with about a half inch of water. Watch as water soaks into the cotton ball, which is similar to how water evaporates back up into the sky. Next, pick up the cotton balls and ask if they feel heavy or light, soft or hard. Now watch the water drip from the cotton ball, which is what it is like when a cloud rains, and how the rain rejoins the water in the pan.
Using this preschool activity has always been successful with my preschoolers. They enjoy the water play; they know about rain and clouds and now they can begin to understand the connections between them.