Taking Care of the Water Cycle

3, 4, 5

The purpose of the lesson is to show learners how the water cycle functions. The learners will also learn about what effects improper waste disposal and water pollution have on the water cycle. The learners will learn how philanthropic acts can help protect the water cycle and keep our water and planet clean.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne to Two Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • create a concept map based on the water cycle.
  • describe the terms polluting and wasting water.
  • understand and demonstrate the concept of the hydrosphere as related to the Great Lakes Basin.
  • give examples of philanthropic acts that can help protect our water.
  • identify local, state and national government agencies that help protect the water supply.
  • Two glasses
  • Water
  • Pencils, paper
  • Instructor's Materials to be collected prior to class: Two beakers of water: one containing 97 ml of water one containing 3 ml of water
Home Connection 

Have learners discuss with their parents/guardians and write down the answers to the following questions: 1. Do you leave the water on all the time you brush your teeth? 2. When we use the washing machine, do we wait until there is a full load or do we do small and partial loads? 3. Describe how we wash our dishes by hand. Is there any way we can save water when we perform this task?

  • Discover the Wonder. Module B Water, Water Cycle, Erosion, and Oceans. Scott Foresman, 1996. Glenview, IL ISBN: 0673427552


  1. Anticipatory Set:The lesson will begin with two glasses of water in the front of the classroom. The instructor will ask the learners to look at the two glasses and describe the amount of water in each glass. One glass will have 97ml of water and the other 3ml of water. The instructor will then explain that the glasses combined represent all the water in the world. The 97ml represents all the salt water in the world, while the 3ml is the fresh water. Ask the learners to give examples of where fresh water and salt water are found. Make a list of the names learners cite. Look for Great Lakes, Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic Oceans, glaciers, mountain streams and rivers. Define the hydrologic (water) cycle and check for understanding of the terms condensation and evaporation, freezing and thawing. Ask learners to identify the Great Lakes, use HOMES to identify Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.

  2. Start a class discussion based on the water in the world example. Explain to learners that 97% of the water in the world is salt water found in oceans and seas. Two percent of the remaining fresh water is found in glaciers or frozen water. The final 1% is our usable water found in the atmosphere, ground water, lakes, rivers and streams. The reason we discuss the water in the world is to show how little usable water there is and why it is an important philanthropic duty to protect our water.

  3. The next step is to discuss the idea of wasting water. Start by asking learners who leaves the water on the entire time they brush their teeth. Most learners will say that they do leave the water running. Discuss how much water is wasted while engaged in this activity if the water is left running. Think about if everybody in class turned the water off while they brushed. How much water would be saved in a day? In a week? In a year? Discuss other ways water is wasted, like leaving the water running while washing a car or letting a faucet drip. Lead learners to conclude that saving water is a great way to help the community and if everyone in a community saves water a real difference can be made.

  4. Ask learners if water is free and unlimited. Discuss that communities usually charge for water treatment and sewage disposal. Ask if anyone knows anyone who uses well water and what costs may be associated with a well. Look for electricity to run pumps, water softeners. Some may add that they have to take fluoride pills to prevent tooth decay.

  5. Discuss pollution with learners next. Start by talking about why pollution hurts our water and all the different areas of an ecosystem that water pollution can affect. Ask learners to talk about what they know regarding chemical pollution. Discuss factories dumping their waste materials in nearby streams and rivers. Talk to learners about proper disposal of hazardous chemicals and how that helps keep water clean. Ask learners to identify chemicals people put down the drain that may be harmful. The key is to impress upon learners that keeping water and the environment clean is their responsibility. Discuss that helping to keep water clean helps society as a whole and is everyone's responsibility.Teacher Note: Teachers should be aware that some students' family members may have jobs in factories and businesses that contribute to water pollution, and that the family's or the community's welfare may depend on those businesses.

  6. Identify the local, state and national agencies that help to regulate the water supply.

  7. The concept map activity is next. The learners will brainstorm a list of water cycle terms that they are going to turn into a concept map. Learners will each have their own map and it will be a great visual aid of how the water cycle works. Learners will be able to see how putting pollution into the cycle allows it to continue through the rest of the cycle. The learners will keep their own concept map to use throughout the rest of the year. The map will help learners to see how important it is to not waste water and help fight pollution.

  8. Next is to review the concept map. Ask questions that will initiate discussion about how doing things like not wasting water and fighting pollution aid society as a whole. Talk about why some companies pollute. Does pollution save any money? Can you think of some ways that pollution will cost companies more money in the long run? Stress the fact that water is a very important resource and we need to take care of that resource if we want to get the most out of it.

  9. Conclude the lesson by talking about what learners can actually do to help. Remind learners to not waste water by turning off water they are not using. Discuss not polluting by properly taking care of any hazardous chemicals used at home. End the lesson with information about organizations learners can participate in that help protect our water and environment.


Assessment is based primarily on observations made during class discussion. Check if learners are participating in discussion and offering related ideas. Evaluate the concept map. The map should include all the terms and each term should be correctly connected to relate to other terms.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
    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 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.13 Describe limited resources and scarcity.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.