Objective: To physically demonstrate to the students the path a drop of water must
take to complete the hydrologic cycle.
Materials: Lots of space, chalk or masking tape to mark out sides, balloons
Divide class into groups of five. On each team, assign one of the paths taken in a water
drop's trip through the water cycle to the child - It drops from a cloud and lands on the
top of a mountain, then rolls down the mountain and finds a small stream, flowing with
the other water drops, it comes to a river, which then flows into the ocean, finally
evaporating back into a cloud.
The children should line up in this order, with enough distance between them to make a
distance relay: 1) the cloud child, 2) the mountain child, 3) the stream child, 4) the river
child, 5) the ocean child.
If you want, you may have the class design the paths to take. It's more fun and
challenging if there are things to climb and crawl through as is found in most school
yards. Set up boundaries with cups or pylons so each team knows when to trade off the
Fill a balloon with water to represent a water drop (you may not wish to deal with this
potential wet disaster if a balloon "accidentally" gets dropped, so just use balloons filled
with air, or one filled with air and a small amount of water. In addition, you'll be saving
water, so be sure to point this out to the class).
Hand each cloud a balloon and let the relay begin. The cloud child should follow the
designated path, then hand off to the mountain child, who then follows a designated path
and hands off to the stream child, etc.
After completing the relay, change the situation - what happens to the drop that falls
directly into the ocean? Or what happens to the water drop in the winter? Or how does
the relay change if the water is absorbed into the soil and goes into the groundwater or
is taken up by a stalk of corn?
Complete "The Returning Raindrop" activity in the Water Sourcebook.
Condensation: The act or process of reducing a gas vapor to a liquid or solid state
Evaporation: The act or process of converting or changing into a vapor with the
application of heat.
Precipitation: Water droplets or ice particles condensed from atmospheric water vapor
and sufficiently massive to fall to the earth's surface, such as rain or snow
Solar energy: The conversion of direct sunlight into usable forms of energy
Water vapor: Water in the gas phase
Activity source: Nebraska Groundwater Foundation Outreach Packet
SD Standards for 4th grade:
Prior Preparation:This activity is
designed to compliment the two water
cycle activities in "Droplets".
precipitation, solar energy, water vapor