Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Water--Where Has It Gone? (6th Grade)
Lesson 1
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework

Focus Question(s):

What is each person's responsibility for environmental stewardship?

NOTE: Prior to this lesson, use the Blue Sky Activity in which students envision a better world.  If you already have a Blue Sky display, revisit it before beginning this lesson.


Learners identify water as a scarce natural resource. They explore philanthropic acts related to water.


One Forty-Five Minute Class Period two activities


The learner will:

  • describe how water is used, its scarcity and limits, and its importance for consumers.
  • use literary and historic examples to describe acts of philanthropic stewardship related to water.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

 Students share facts and suggestions with their peers and families about taking care of the earth's water resources. 


  • Worksheet Water Uses and Amounts (see Attachment One), one worksheet for each group
  • Student Recording Sheet for Water Usage (see Attachment Two)
  • Excerpt from the chapter book, The Well, p.9 (This is an excellent book that can be read aloud and discussed if time allows.)
  • Chart paper and markers
Handout 1
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.

  • Arrange the class into groups of three or four students and give the group a copy of Student Recording Sheet for Water Usage (Attachment Two).  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 and record it on chart paper.

  • For purposes of contrast and discussion, 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 Water Usage and Amounts (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.

  • Explain that water is a natural resource, but it is not limitless.  Water scarcity is a reality.   Discuss the following concerns:

    • How would your life be different if there were little or no water available?

    • Introduce the term scarcity (not enough of a product to meet the demand).  Be sure the students understand that many people face water scarcity every day.

  • Read aloud from page nine of the chapter book The Well by Mildred Taylor, beginning with the word  “Charlie Simms was always mean” and ending with the words “the same thing” (see Bibliographical References).

    Summary: During a drought in the early twentieth century, one family finds themselves in a situation where they are the only people with a well that has not run dry.  Instead of being selfish, the family shares its well water with its neighbors.

  • Ask learners to explain what act of philanthropy (the giving of one’s time, talent or treasure for the sake of another or for the common good) took place in the story.

  • Discuss with the class the following questions:

    • Does everyone have the obligation to share natural resources as the family in the book did?

    • Does everyone have the responsibility to care for natural resources?

Learning Link(s): (click to view)

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Brainstorm with the class other natural resources, besides water, that are shared resources.  Create a list of ways each of them can be good stewards of shared resources.

Reflection: (click to view)

Bibliographical References:

Taylor, Mildred D.  The Well.  New York: Puffin Books, 1995. ISBN 0-14-038642-4

Lesson Developed By:

Clare Friend
Curriculum Consultant
Learning to Give


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Water Uses and Amounts

Water Uses and Amounts

Directions:  Use this information 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




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:


Cici, Teacher Denver, CO5/30/2007 10:34:00 PM

I think this is a great lesson. I am so impressed with your website. I really like the philanthropic theme. Bottom line I think that (it) benefits the kids and the learning environment beyond measure having such a postive message behind the instruction. Awesome!

Darrelle, Teacher Newark, NJ3/30/2011 4:33:24 PM

My club members thought that this was a great lesson. They were shown the amount of water that was used each day and were able to compare their water use. They were amazed. Their goal is to stop wasting so much. They plan to drink bottled water and limit shower time. When brushing their teeth, they will not keep the water running.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Water--Where Has It Gone? (6th Grade) Summary


Water--Where Has It Gone? (6th Grade)

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