Over the next several days the children continued to think about where the puddle goes when it evaporates. G articulated her theory in drawing. She explained:

The puddles don’t go up in the air. They vibrate, and then they go back to the 
cloud, and then it rains.

When we brought G's theory to meeting, H declared, "I know it's true, because I saw it in a book, and it said puddles evaporate, so that they go back up into the clouds."

"Does anybody have a different theory?" I asked.

LW said, "My theory is that the clouds vibrate, because the wind blows the air up into a ball of air, and then they go onto the ground, and then they go up."

We drew LW’s theory on the SMART board, and as we drew, LW clarified her theory. This is one of the purposes of asking the children to draw their theories. The act of representing their ideas supports, clarifies, and expands those ideas. But the children are new to this process so early in the year, and so we make collaborative drawings at first: a child poses her theory and I act as scribe at first, drawing what, where, and how the child dictates. It rarely takes long each year for the children to take over this making of theories visible.

LW's theory, clarified and expanded:

A ball of air comes down from the cloud to the puddle. When the ball slides down from the cloud it catches the water and puts it in the ball. Then it goes into the cloud and starts over again. My mommy told me this.

Then LM posed her theory, also clarified through drawing.

There’s a rainbow and a puddle. The wind blows the puddle to the side. The rainbow gets longer, into the puddle. Since the rainbow went into the puddle, the puddle goes all the way up there, and then a cloud up there goes down and gets the puddle. The clouds can’t go down unless there’s something like a waterfall or something. A rainbow goes down like that. It takes a long time to get back up. The puddle goes up to the cloud really slow. And then when the puddle gets to the cloud, then it rains again.

Lillie draws her theory on the SMART board.
LM draws her theory on the SMART board.

Then we asked all the children to draw their theories. “It might be like LM or LW’s, but most likely it’s not," I said. "You can draw your own theory about what happens to the puddle when it dries up.”

As the children sat together to draw their individual theories, most incorporated the agents of evaporation upon which they have agreed: rainbow and clouds. Some added the wind. And some included agents of magic (fairies) and anthropomorphized the puddle ("The puddle goes back down to his home.") But just about all the theories were cyclical, an aspect of the process they not only agree on but seem to understand.

Here are the children's theories of where the puddle goes when it evaporates.

The puddle goes into the rainbow. It scoops the puddle up and then it goes into the clouds, and then it rains again.    Mary

The puddle goes into the rainbow. It scoops the puddle up and then it goes into the clouds, and then it rains again.

The rain comes down. The puddle survives. Then the wind puts the puddle into a little ball, and the ball crashes open, and I fall in it. The wind comes down from the evil fairy, and then the evil fairy makes spider webs and drops it on everybody, even me. Then we all fall into the puddle.  Meredith

The rain comes down. The puddle survives. Then the wind puts the puddle into a little ball, and the ball crashes open, and I fall in it. The wind comes down from the evil fairy, and then the evil fairy makes spider webs and drops it on everybody, even me. Then we all fall into the puddle.

Maeve: The rainbow is long, and the cloud is trying to get the water. Because it takes so long enough.  Teacher: How does it get the water? Maeve: A line and an arrow.

M: The rainbow is long, and the cloud is trying to get the water. Because it takes so long enough.
Teacher: How does it get the water?
M: A line and an arrow.

My theory is, the air starts to go down into the puddle. Then the cloud stops the air from going into the water, because it might make the puddle dirty. You might want to stay away from the puddle, because it might be dirty. The sun dries up the water, and the water goes into the storm cloud. Then it rains, and it starts over again. Lydia

My theory is, the air starts to go down into the puddle. Then the cloud stops the air from going into the water, because it might make the puddle dirty. You might want to stay away from the puddle, because it might be dirty. The sun dries up the water, and the water goes into the storm cloud. Then it rains, and it starts over again.

An air ball comes down to the puddle. The air ball puts the puddle in the rainbow, and then back in the cloud. And then the rainbow goes into the cloud and makes another rainbow and another puddle. Lauren

An air ball comes down to the puddle. The air ball puts the puddle in the rainbow, and then back in the cloud. And then the rainbow goes into the cloud and makes another rainbow and another puddle.

The wind blew the puddle over. And then a rainbow went over it. The cloud was trying to get the puddle, too. The air came down from the cloud. And the air was stronger than the rainbow, so the air brought the puddle up to the cloud. And then the puddle went up, but it took a long, long time. When it got up it rained again, because the cloud is not strong enough to hold all the rain up on him long enough. Lillie

The wind blew the puddle over. And then a rainbow went over it. The cloud was trying to get the puddle, too. The air came down from the cloud. And the air was stronger than the rainbow, so the air brought the puddle up to the cloud. And then the puddle went up, but it took a long, long time. When it got up it rained again, because the cloud is not strong enough to hold all the rain up on him long enough.

It started drizzling, and then it started raining harder, and then it started raining harder. Then the wind moved the puddle a little bit. Then the rain stopped. Then the puddle goes up to the sun. It dries up [when it’s] in the sun. Julianna

It started drizzling, and then it started raining harder, and then it started raining harder. Then the wind moved the puddle a little bit. Then the rain stopped. Then the puddle goes up to the sun. It dries up [when it’s] in the sun.

The cloud sucks the puddle up. The rain goes down again. It makes another puddle. Harper

The cloud sucks the puddle up. The rain goes down again. It makes another puddle.

Grace: It rains on a hot day. There’s a rainbow when it rains. Then the puddle gets blown away by the wind. Teacher: Where does it go? Grace: To the rainbow. The rainbow disappears. The puddle goes away with the rainbow. I shoot a bow and arrow at the rainbow, and then the rainbow moves. Grace

G: It rains on a hot day. There’s a rainbow when it rains. Then the puddle gets blown away by the wind.
Teacher: Where does it go?
G: To the rainbow. The rainbow disappears. The puddle goes away with the rainbow. I shoot a bow and arrow at the rainbow, and then the rainbow moves.

 

The wind makes the puddle fly up into the air. A rainbow comes out. The puddle hops on top of the rainbow to get the candy from the clouds. The clouds throw the candy onto the rainbow. The puddle goes back down into his home.  Eleanor

The wind makes the puddle fly up into the air. A rainbow comes out. The puddle hops on top of the rainbow to get the candy from the clouds. The clouds throw the candy onto the rainbow. The puddle goes back down into his home.

The rainbow goes into the puddle. There’s lots of clouds around it. Rain starts going down. The puddle disappears when the clouds blow it.    Emmie

The rainbow goes into the puddle. There’s lots of clouds around it. Rain starts going down. The puddle disappears when the clouds blow it.

The sun dries the puddle up. A fairy makes the puddle disappear. It goes into the sun. Then the puddle goes back into the cloud, and then it goes down to make a puddle again. Then it goes back into a puddle again. Ada

The sun dries the puddle up. A fairy makes the puddle disappear. It goes into the sun. Then the puddle goes back into the cloud, and then it goes down to make a puddle again. Then it goes back into a puddle again.

The puddle starts vibrating. A rainbow comes. The rainbow makes the puddle go into the clouds. And it starts raining again. It starts dripping water onto the ground, and then it’s going to start over again.   Amelia

The puddle starts vibrating. A rainbow comes. The rainbow makes the puddle go into the clouds. And it starts raining again. It starts dripping water onto the ground, and then it’s going to start over again.

The children sustained their interest in puddles for several weeks. Then, on our first trip to our school's forest, they found a large puddle in a hole created by the uprooting of a tree. Four children stayed with the puddle for quite some time, exploring the possibilities for enlarging it and spanning it, hypothesizing about and testing the suction in the mud below, and discussing whether the puddle represented the inside of the earth. The video clip of the children's exploration of the puddle, below, is a bit long (5:29), but I think worth watching to the end.