River and Us (A)

3, 4, 5

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the concept of the life of a river and pollution through the story A River Ran Wild.

Lesson Rating 
One Forty-Five to Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define and demonstrate proper use of the terms: common good, preserve (as in clean water) and public good as applicable to clean water. common good (n) Resources shared for the collective benefit of the whole group of people. preserve (v) To keep or save from destruction or injury. public good (n) Any good that, if supplied to anybody, is necessarily supplied to everybody, and from whose benefits it is impossible or impractical to exclude anybody.
  • determine the effects of actions on the common good.
  • determine basic effects of water pollution on the quality of life.
  • identify and relate the causes of water pollution.
  • make decisions relating to solving water pollution problems.

  • Book, A River Ran Wild (see Bibliographical References )
  • Blackboard or chart paper
  • Writing instruments

Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework: The learners are to draw a picture of two ways they can better conserve water in their homes.


Cherry, Lynne. A River Ran Wild. Harcourt Brace and Company, 1992. ISBN 0-15-200542-6


  1. Anticipatory Set:Hold up two bottles of water, one containing clean and one containing dirty water with sediment. Ask the learners which they would rather swim in, bathe in, or drink. Discuss why. Explain that the river waters were once fit to drink and the story to be read will help to demonstrate how our current water supply came to be in the shape it is in. Explain to learners that water that appears clean to them may indeed be very unsafe for bathing and drinking.

  2. Ask class members how the water they drink is made safe to drink.

  3. On the board or chart paper write down the brainstormed answers to "What we know about how water gets polluted." (Write down all answers.)

  4. Make another column headed "How to clean it up."

  5. Discuss why we should clean the river. Introduce the concept of Common Good . See prior definition.

  6. Introduce the book, A River Ran Wild.

  7. Read aloud and discuss the content.

  8. Help learners develop the definition of economy as a way the nation produces, distributes and consumes goods and services.

  9. Emphasize the effects of the actions in the book on the economy and the Common Good .


Revise the chart of "What we know…"

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.13 Describe limited resources and scarcity.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.7 Describe why the classroom, school, or neighborhood is a community governed by fundamental democratic principles.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.

Academic Standards

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