Great Lakes at Stake

3, 4, 5

Participants identify the impact of humans on lakes and rivers. They explore ways to take responsibility to protect the waterways.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session
  • Identify major causes of pollution on lakes and rivers related to human interaction
Teacher Preparation 

Make a crossword puzzle or trivia game related to the Great Lakes or the local water systems. 

Home Connection 

Complete the handout below What Can I Do? as homework.

  • Kaye, Cathryn Berger. Make a Splash! A Kid's Guide to Protecting Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, and Wetlands. Free Spirit Publishing, 2012.
  • Lindstrom, Carole, We Are Water Protectors. Roaring Brook Press, 2020
  • French, Jess. What A Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting Our Planet. Penguin, 2019
  • Kearney, Brendan. Fish. DK Children, 2020
  • Lord, Michelle, The Mess That We Made, Flashlight Press, 2020
  • Layton, Neal, A Planet Full of Plastic: and how you can help. Hachette Children’s Group, 2019


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Have participants complete the water-themed crossword puzzle or play the trivia game related to the Great Lakes or the local water systems. See Teacher Prep, above.

  2. Read aloud a book about water pollution from the bibliography above. Have learners discuss what they learned from the book(s) that could relate to keeping the Great Lakes and nearby waterways clean.

    Watch a video and discuss: "The Great Lakes: Fragile Seas" by National Geographic Society or "What's So Great about the Great Lakes?" by Cheri Dobbs and Jennifer Gabrys (YouTube 4:47) 

  3. Ask the learners to write a reflection paragraph, create a poster, video, or poem on what they have learned from the videos and resources. Include the issues identified, how they feel about the issues identified, and what they hope to learn in order to be of help to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

  4. Groups brainstorm ideas of things they can do to help protect a local river or lake that fits their interests and for which they can access resources and learn the needed skills.They may identify stewardship programs that protect the Great Lakes for the future.

  5. Facilitate a discussion on what it means to be a steward. Define stewardship as "the responsible caring for something, in this case, our natural resources." Tell the learners that when they act philanthropically, they are also acting as stewards.

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. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.5 Recognize the wise use of resources as <i>stewardship</i>.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.