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Where Has All the Water Gone?
Lesson 1
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


The purpose of this lesson is to instruct students about the various ways we use water in our daily lives.


One Sixty-Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • identify the many uses of water in our daily lives.
  • determine the amount of water that is used in various activities.
  • explain that our water supply is limited.


  • Common Water Uses and Amounts (Attachment One)
  • Empty gallon jugs
  • Math-counting blocks
  • Student Recording Sheet for Water Usage (Attachment Two)
Handout 1
Common Water Uses and Amounts
Handout 2
Student Recording Sheet for Water Usage

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Begin class by asking students to estimate the amount of water they use each day. Have students write down their estimates and put them aside for future reference.

  • In cooperative groups of three students, ask the class to brainstorm all the ways they can think of that they use water every day.
  • Compile a class list of the answers the groups made. Ask the students to share the amounts they estimated at the beginning of class. (Note: you will get a very wide range.)
  • Distribute statistics that show how much water various activities use (Attachment One). Using an empty gallon jug, explain that two-thirds of the people in the world use just thirteen gallons of water each day. Ask how this compares with their estimates. Explain that the average American uses approximately 100-105 gallons of water each day. Provide the class with statistics that show the amount of water it takes to produce several common items we use every day such as tomatoes, a gallon of milk, energy to light a light bulb, production of newsprint, etc. (Attachment One). Ask for reactions to these statistics.
  • Using math-counting blocks of 100 to represent the total amount of water on the earth, ask student to guess how much is available for use by humans and animals. After several estimates, explain that only three percent of the total amount of water is fresh water and of that three percent, one percent is actually available for use. The rest is too deep underground or locked up in ice caps. Ask students to turn to their neighbor and make a generalization about the amount of water that is available. (Water is extremely limited for actual use.)
  • Provide Student Recording Sheet for Water Usage (Attachment Two) for students to record the amount of water they use for the next 24 hours. This will be the homework assignment.


Students will be assessed by teacher observation of the involvement of the students and by the completion of the recording sheets.

School/Home Connection:

Students will take the recording sheets home and record their water usage for the 24-hour period.

Bibliographical References:

U.S. Geological Survey.  "Where Is Earth's Water Located?" http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/earthwherewater.html

U.S. Geological Survey. Water Usage Calculator: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/sq3.html

Water Use it Wisely. Tips for conserving water. http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/index.php

American Water and Energy Savers. "Saving Water Indoors." http://www.americanwater.com/49ways.htm

Lesson Developed By:

Thomas Webb
Fulton Schools
Fulton Middle School
Middleton, MI 48856


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Common Water Uses and Amounts

Directions: Use these examples to get a reasonable estimate of the amount of water used
for each of the following activities.


Water Usage Information

Water Usage

Number of Gallons Used

Flush a toilet


Full bath in tub


Wash hands (with water running)

4 gallons per minute

Brush teeth (with water running)



8-12 per load

Wash clothes

20-50 per load

Drinking water




Washing the car


For the latest information on the relationship between production and water consumption, go to the Water Footprint website http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/home See examples under the heading "The relation between consumption and water use."

On an average, globally, it takes the following amounts of water to produce the following foods:

  • 70 liters of water to produce one apple
  • 15,500 liters of water per kg of beef.
  • 40 liters of water to produce one loaf of bread
  • 3,900 liters for 1 kg of chicken meat
  • 1,000 liters of water to produce 1 liter of milk

Handout 2Print Handout 2

Student Recording Sheet for Water Usage

Activity Frequency Amount of Water Used/Use Total Water Used
Brushing Teeth      
Dish Washing      
Flushing Toilets      

How does your water usage compare to that of the average American?

What are three things you and your family can do to help conserve water?

Philanthropy Framework:

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