Exploring the story of water

Time Allocation: 30 minutes*

Activity Level: Moderate


Water covers 75% of the earth’s surface; only 1% is available as fresh water. Freshwater is essential for all land plants and animals to survive. The story of water learning activity investigates the journey of water through the environment, from the mountains to the sea.

*Adult preparation for the activity 20 minutes


  • Waterproof container (of at least 12 by 12 cm)
  • Clay, plasticine or playdough
  • Small jug
  • 3L tap water
  • Large clear bucket, plastic aquarium
  • Large wooden or plastic spoon or tongs
  • 15 small jars or containers to hold one of the items below
  • Printable activity sheet
  • Pencils
  • Items to add to the water on its journey: A tablespoon of soil/dirt, 5 – 10 broken pieces of twigs or sticks, A teaspoon of clay in water, A teaspoon of chocolate drink powder, 3 drops yellow food colouring and 1 square of toilet paper, 10 sultanas, Tablespoon of detergent, 10 small rocks, 5 small pieces of aluminium foil scrunched in balls, ¼ piece of A4 paper ripped in strips, Small plastic bag cut into pieces, Tablespoon of vegetable oil, Tablespoon of charcoal, 20cm of plastic string or fishing line, Tablespoon of sand
  • Items required for extension activity: Plastic strainers, Large plastic funnel, Paper towel
  • Instructions

    STEP 1

    Discussion: What is water?

    Have a discussion as a class on what water is and why it is important for plants, animals and people. Introduce key ideas about water:

    • Where does our water come from?
    • What happens if our water gets polluted/dirty
    • Can we run out of water?
    STEP 2

    Demonstration/activity: How water flows.

    Use clay to make a small hill in a waterproof container. Ask your students which way they think the water will flow? Pour water onto the hill to demonstrate how the water flows downhill.

    STEP 3

    Activity: Follow the journey of water.

    Organise each group or child to have a jar with their item from the resource list. Introduce the journey of water story and explain that as they will add items as you read the story. Ask the children to observe what happens to the water as they add each item so that you can discuss at the end of the story.

    Using the activity sheet, read the story of water or make up your own and ask the kids to add the item in their jar to the container of water. Kids put small amounts of household material (detergent, oil, dirt, chocolate drink powder, plastic etc) to represent land uses and environmental issues.

    STEP 4


    What did the children observe as they added different items to the water?
    Discussing this as it happens can lead to more learning discoveries.

    What have you discovered?

    What can we do to stop these things getting in the waterways and the ocean?

    Extension Activity

    Clean up our waterways: Students can use plastic strainers to remove the floating pollution and discuss ways of stopping it returning. Once the water has settled students can scoop of the cleaner water into a separate container. What objects were easier to clean? What items were more difficult?

    Children can tell their own stories about the journey of water. What would they do differently to help keep the waterways clean? Draw, write or perform the story.

    You can incorporate aspects from the Junior Landcare learning activities Every drop counts, being water wise!, Water for Wildlife, Waterways: behaviour change or Waterways: clean-up activities.