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Objectives Students will identify all the places water can go in the natural earth system

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Guidelines for Presenting

The Incredible Journey
With the roll of the die, children become water molecules simulating the movement of water in the hydrologic cycle.


Warm Up

Ask students: What do you know about the water cycle? What is the picture that comes to mind? (students will probably think about the cloud over the ocean with the arrow pointing up and then raining down on the land). In this activity, we are going to expand that picture of the water cycle.


In this activity, students become water molecules traveling through the water cycle. Where are all the places water can go in the Earth System? Make a list of all the places water can go in the water cycle:

River (streams)

Lake (ponds)




Glacier (icecaps)

Cloud (air)



Try to have students guess all the places water can go, if they cannot guess, ask them questions such as “What other forms of water are there other than liquid?” “ Where is water found in our community or state?” Water can be found as a solid, gas (vapor) or liquid. When all nine places have been written, number the list from 1-9.
Have students count off from 1-9 until all students have a number. This number identifies the station where they will start their incredible water journey. Ask the students assigned to each station to identify the places water can go from their station (a direct path). (For instance, from the ocean, water can only evaporate into clouds.) Ask students “ What conditions would cause water to move?” Go thru each of the nine stations this way. Where in the water cycle do students think water molecules would stay the longest?
Give each student a piece of suede string knotted at the end. Tell the students that they will be demonstrating water’s movement from one location to another. As the students move from one location in the water cycle to the next, they collect a bead at each station that signifies the place they have traveled to. Each station has a different colored bead. Have students line up at their station and begin the game. The student first in line will roll the dice and go where the dice dictates. If they roll STAY, they will take that colored bead and go to the end of the line in their area.
Students may end up staying at certain areas a long time-most won’t get to all the stations. What matters is their individual journey.
Allow 10 minutes to talk about the student’s water cycle journeys. Students will require help tying the slip knot. Show the chart to match up bead color with each station:

River (streams)- baby blue

Lake (ponds)- royal blue

Ocean- turquoise

Groundwater- orange

Soil- brown

Glacier (icecaps)- clear

Cloud (air)- white

Plant- green

Animal- red
Follow Up

Ask students the following questions:

  1. Did each water molecule (student) follow the same path?

  2. Where were the places you got stuck? Where were you the most?

  3. Why do you think you stayed longer in this area? (Oceans or seas cover about 70% of the earth’s surface. It makes sense for many water molecules to get “stuck” in these areas)

  4. Did any of you go from the ocean to the clouds and back to the ocean for more than one roll? (this is called cycling)

  5. Did some of you get stuck in the groundwater? (Water takes longer to move through the ground than it does to move over the land surface. It would make sense that some students get “stuck” there, too.)

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