River through Time (A)

3, 4, 5

Learners will study the impact of humans on the environment of a river valley over time and recognize stewardship and the common good in a real life example.

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

The learner will:

  • describe the impact of humans on the Nashua River Valley environment at different points in time.
  • place events related to the Nashua River Valley in chronological order on a timeline.
  • discuss how the Native Americans and Marion Stoddart modeled stewardship and belief in the common good.
  • Read aloud copy of A River Ran Wild, by Lynne Cherry
  • Chart paper
  • Crayons, colored pencils and/or markers for combined timeline
  • Student handout: Group Names and Questions
  • Drawing or roller paper, rulers and pens for timeline
  • Self-sticking notes
Home Connection 

The learner will chronicle significant life events with a timeline and pictures and/or illustrations. The timeline should be done in year intervals from birth to the present. Allow the learner three days to complete his/her own timeline with help from family members or caregivers at home.


Cherry, Lynne. A River Ran Wild. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1992. ISBN: 0-15-200542-6


  1. Anticipatory Set:Ask the learners to recall the story, A River Ran Wild (from Lesson One). Generate and post a class brainstorm of the changes that took place over time to the river valley in the story.

    Discuss the historical context, particularly the Industrial Revolution and technological advances, and the impact of such changes upon the labor force.

    1. How did technological advances positively impact the Common Good?
    2. How did technological advances negatively impact the Common Good?
  2. Group Activity: Divide the class into four groups. Give each group an index card or sheet of paper, preferably lined, with a place for their group name to be entered, as well as a place for each group member's name to be entered, and dates, events and questions. (See handout below: Group Names.)

  3. Place a five-foot long sheet of paper on a wall or board. Learners will use this to compile a composite timeline at the end of the activity.

  4. Have each group meet and read the cards. Assign the task of answering the questions orally and by illustration. Tell the class that at the end of the group work assignment all groups are to share their group answers with the class. Each group is to also present the events on their card to be added to the timeline on the wall or board.

  5. Learners will fill in events from the history of the area studied in chronological order on the class timeline. Each group will present its information and add it to the timeline.

  6. In a class discussion, compare the human interaction with the environment of the different groups.

  7. Introduce the terms through Socratic questioning:

    • stewardship (n) A process whereby an organization seeks to be worthy of continued philanthropic support, including the acknowledgement of gifts, donor recognition, the honoring of donor intent, prudent investment of gifts, and the effective and efficient use of funds to further the mission of the organization. The position or work of a steward
    • common good (n) Resources shared for the collective benefit of the whole group of people.Ask the class: "How did your groups demonstrate stewardship or work for the common good?"
  8. Ask the class to recall Marion Stoddart from A River Ran Wild. The teacher gives the dates for Marion's actions to add to the timeline. The class completes the timeline.

    Reflect on the idea of compromise, or balance, betweeen technological advances and the common good.

  9. Ask the class how Marion demonstrated stewardship or worked for the common good.

  10. Exit ticket: Have each student turn to another and share two things they learned from this lesson. Have each student share one thing with the class that someone else shared.


The assessment is based on teacher observation of group participation. Additionally, each group evaluates their work using the following rubric:

Group Work Self-Evaluation Rubric http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php 

  • Score 4 Our group listened to each other, took turns and shared in the decision-making. We completed the assignment and have done quality work.
  • 3 Our group usually took turns and most people were part of the decision-making. We completed the work.
  • 2 A few people did most of the work and made the decisions. Our work could be better.
  • 1 Our group had difficulty completing the work and making decisions. Each group gives a numerical score and states evidence that supports their evaluation.
Cross Curriculum 

Example Field Trips:

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.5 Identify one local citizen who has helped the community through giving and/or service.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.5 Recognize the wise use of resources as <i>stewardship</i>.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.10 Give an example of an action by an individual or a private organization that has helped to enhance a fundamental democratic principle.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Define stewardship and give examples.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.