Water--Where Has It Gone? (6th Grade)

6, 7, 8

Learners identify water as a scarce natural resource. They explore philanthropic acts related to water.


PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period – two activities

The learner will:

  • describe how water is used, its scarcity and limits, and its importance for consumers.
  • use literary and historic examples to describe acts of philanthropic stewardship related to water.
  • Worksheet Water Uses and Amounts (see Handout One), one worksheet for each group
  • Student Recording Sheet for Water Usage (see Handout Two)
  • Excerpt from the chapter book, The Well, p.9 (This is an excellent book that can be read aloud and discussed if time allows.)
  • Chart paper and markers

Taylor, Mildred D.  The Well.  New York: Puffin Books, 1995. ISBN 0-14-038642-4


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Begin class by asking students to estimate the amount of water they use each day. Have students write down their estimates and put them aside for future reference.

  2. Arrange the class into groups of three or four students and give the group a copy of Student Recording Sheet for Water Usage (handout below). Ask the class to brainstorm all the ways they can think of that they use water every day.

  3. Compile a class list of the answers the groups made and record it on chart paper.

  4. For purposes of contrast and discussion, ask the students to share the amounts they estimated at the beginning of class. (Note: you will get a very wide range.)

  5. Distribute statistics that show Water Usage and Amounts (handout). Using an empty gallon jug, explain that two-thirds of the people in the world use just thirteen gallons of water each day. Ask how this compares with their estimates.

  6. Explain that the average American uses approximately 100-105 gallons of water each day. Provide the class with statistics that show the amount of water it takes to produce several common items we use every day such as tomatoes, a gallon of milk, energy to light a light bulb, production of newsprint, etc. (handout). Ask for reactions to these statistics.

  7. Explain that water is a natural resource, but it is not limitless. Water scarcity is a reality. Discuss the following concerns:

    • How would your life be different if there were little or no water available?
    • Introduce the term scarcity (not enough of a product to meet the demand). Be sure the students understand that many people face water scarcity every day.
  8. Read aloud from page nine of the chapter book The Well by Mildred Taylor, beginning with the word “Charlie Simms was always mean” and ending with the words “the same thing” (see Bibliographical References). Summary: During a drought in the early twentieth century, one family finds themselves in a situation where they are the only people with a well that has not run dry. Instead of being selfish, the family shares its well water with its neighbors.

  9. Ask learners to explain what act of philanthropy (the giving of one’s time, talent or treasure for the sake of another or for the common good) took place in the story.

  10. Discuss with the class the following questions:

    • Does everyone have the obligation to share natural resources as the family in the book did?
    • Does everyone have the responsibility to care for natural resources?
Cross Curriculum 

Students share facts and suggestions with their peers and families about taking care of the earth's water resources.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.