Who Lives Here?
  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and give examples of stewardship in cultural traditions around the world.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.

The purpose of this lesson is to explore the concept of human environmental interaction and stewardship of water resources. Learners will develop a deeper understanding of water conservation by looking at the city of Phoenix, Arizona located partly in the Sonoran Desert in the south western United States.
Note: Activities in this lesson may be applied to almost any of the deserts regions around the world that are impacted by a city or humanly inhabited area. 

PrintOne to two 45 – 50 minute class periods

The learner will:

  • explore ways to conserve water particularly in desert cities.
  • State three reasons for conserving the earth’s water resources.
  • Book: A Desert Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk in the Sonoran Desert
  • Reference books, magazines, pictures reflecting the lives of people who live in the desert regions. (See Bibliographical References for suggestions)
  • Vocabulary Word (Word Wall) list posted for reference (See Handout One)
  • Proposal for water conservation (See Handout Two)
Home Connection: 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework: Ask the learners to take some of the suggestions for conserving water home and ask the family to voluntarily participate in the conservation.

  • Sill, Cathryn and John. About Habitats: Deserts. Peachtree Publishers, 2012.
  • Greenberger, Robert. Deserts: The Living Landscape. Rosen Publishing Group, 2009.
  • Green, Jen. Life in the Desert. Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2010.
  • Baylor, Byrd. The Desert Is Theirs. Aladdin, 1987.
  • Benoit, Peter. Deserts. Scholastic, 2011.
  • Wright-frierson, Virginia. A Desert Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk in the Sonoran Desert. ISBN: 0689850557
  • https://www.phoenix.gov/waterservices/resourcesconservation/drought-information Phoenix in Drought,
  • If that isn't available, paste this URL into your browser: [http://phoenix.gov/waterservices/wrc/news/ndrought.html]
  • http://www.pima.gov/cmo/sdcp/kids.html  Official site of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan
  • http://www.pima.gov/cmo/sdcp/kids/gloss.html  Glossary
  • https://blueplanetbiomes.org/sonoran_desert.php  general information about the Sonoran desert.
  • Lambert, David. People of the Desert. Steck-Vaughn Company, 1999. ISBN: 0-8172-5063-8
  • Harris, Nathaniel. Atlas of the World’s Desert: (Chapter 5; The Desert in History). Fitzroy Dearborn, 2003. ISBN: 1-57958-310-5
  • Le Rochaism Narie-Ange and Newman, George L. Desert Trek : An Eye-Opening Journey Through the World's Driest Places. Walker Books for Young Readers (March 1, 2001). ISBN: 0802787657
  • Jablonsky, Alice. 101 Questions About Desert Life. Southwest Parks & Monuments Association (September 1994). ISBN: 1877856320
  1. Note: Place the reference materials around the room before beginning and allow time for the learners to explore the materials before the lesson.

    Anticipatory Set: Ask the learners: “Do you think you could live in a desert?” Why or why not? Note: For the purpose of this lesson you will only be looking at non polar deserts. Allow five or ten minutes for a short discussion and responses.

  2. Read the book A Desert Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk in the Sonoran Desert.

  3. Using a World map, invite a learner to point out North America.

  4. Tell the learners that the Sonoran Desert is the largest desert in the southwestern part of North America. It is located in two of the United States, Arizona and California and in two countries, the United States and Mexico. For this lesson we will be looking at the desert area which includes the city of Phoenix, Arizona located in the upper northwestern part of the Sonoran Desert.

  5. After reading the book, repeat the question: Do you think you could live in a desert? Allow time for responses.

  6. Explain to the learners that people live in the city of Phoenix, AZ. It was once inhabited entirelyby Native American People. They lived off the land and built irrigations canals to water the crops. In the 1800's European settlers began toadapt the desert and Phoenix became a farming community. Water that supplies Phoenix comes from surface sources like the Salt, Verde and Colorado Rivers. A small amount comes from wells. Even though you might think that rivers are an endless source of water that is not true. Rivers begin high in the mountains and travel down hill. If there isn’t enough rain or snow melt the rivers will not supply enough water. The city and its citizens must conserve water in order to survive. Phoenixreceives about 7.5 (19.5 cm) inches of rainfall per year.

  7. Teacher Note: Share information with the students from the Phoenix government web site https://www.phoenix.gov/waterservices/resourcesconservation/drought-information, Phoenix in Drought, or show the learners the site and summarize some of the details, or allow learners to explore the site on their own.

  8. Ask: What does the word conserve mean? (Use something carefully so as not to exhaust the supply)

  9. Ask: What might people do to conserve water? (Turn water off when brushing your teeth, water the lawn during the cooler hours of the day, and grow plants that don’t need a lot of water.)

  10. Ask: Why would it be important to conserve water in a desert climate? (water is scarce, there isn’t an endless supply)

  11. Ask: Is it your civic responsibility to voluntarily conserve water no matter where you live?

  12. Day Two: (Continue the lesson on a subsequent day if needed)

  13. Explain to the learners that cities/towns have governmental bodies that are elected or appointed to make decisions about taking care of the city/town. Note: For this lesson that governmental body will be called the City Council. The teacher might wish to talk a little about the organizational design of the local government and use the term that would be appropriate for the local governmental body.

  14. Create heterogeneous groups of four or five learners. Tell them: You are a committee appointed by the City Council.You are being asked to develop ideas/suggestions that would help a city like yours, located in a desert, to conserve water. Your city gets most of its supply of water from rivers and streams that flow through or near your city. Since rainfall has been very scarce this season, the rivers are not flowing as full as they normally do and the temperature has been above normal for several weeks.

  15. Explain that they must develop a plan that includes a rationale for conserving water and specific conservation ideas, put the plan in writing, and be prepared to present the plan to City Council. (The Teacher) (See Handout Two) Be sure the plan includes opportunities for the citizens to voluntarily conserve water.

  16. Allow an appropriate amount of time according to your class schedule. Fifteen to twenty minutes should be sufficient for the development and another five minutes for presentation to City Council.


The teacher will observe the learners during the presentations.The teacher will evaluate the group plans for feasibility.