In 2010 the UN officially recognised the human right to water and sanitation. Water covers 71% of the earth’s surface. It makes up 60% of our bodies and is vital for all known forms of life. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘water’? Something to drink? Something to enjoy as a sport or relaxation? Something to look after? Pure water is clean, soothing, energizing and powerful, all at the same time. However, approximately one billion people throughout the world do not have access to safe water. What are the implications of this?
The United Nations celebrates WORLD WATER DAY on March 22nd.
We have two easily adaptable lesson ideas for you, which can be followed up by reading a story about water. Sharing facts and talking about important issues in the classroom is just an interesting first step in the learning process. If our aim is educating our students to reflect on cultural, social and environmental issues, one excellent way of helping them in the learning process is reading, watching and listening to stories with them. Addressing a sensitive or important issues through fiction helps our students to engage more with the idea as their imagination will help them become part of the story. Not only will they use English to think and read about the discussion topics, they will also learn about different aspects of them.
Teens and Adults
The United Nations World Water website provides perfect teaching resources. Start with a lead-in discussion, asking your students to reflect on the use of water in their lives, then move on to watching and discussing the official UN videos.
1 Water in everyday life
It’s an easy brainstorming and mind-mapping activity. Make a list of all the activities in a day which need water. Check words like: tap, tap water, sewage works, freshwater.
2 Water jobs
How many jobs are related to water? Make a list.
3 Watch a video
There are two videos on the UN website related to water, water-related jobs and water in our lives. Watch one of them in class. The second one is more suitable for advanced-level students, but if you use only the visuals, also elementary-level students can work with it. Ask your students to listen and note down 1) all the jobs related to water, 2) all the activities which are mentioned in the video. Which countries can you recognize in the first video?
Official animation: World Water Day 2018
Official trailer: World Water Day 2017
Official trailer: World Water Day 2016
CELEBRATE WATER ON waterday.org
4 Research water-related jobs
Explore this website dedicated to water-related jobs.
You can find out more about the jobs and job descriptions. What do you need to study to do these jobs?
5 Reflect and think globally
Discuss the vocabulary items, describe the activities in the videos, and then study a map. What about other countries in the world? How do they live their lives without water? What can we do to preserve our natural waters? Here are some questions to discuss.
- How much water do you use in a day?
- Do you buy bottled water?
- Is it a a good idea to use water filter jugs?
- Do you leave the water running when you’re brushing your teeth?
6 Get creative: arts and writing activities
- Take photographs or draw pictures of water in your life. Organise a class exhibition.
- Write a story about water.
- Write a dystopian story. Imagine there is no water in your life any longer. How does life change?
7 Read a story
Read Red Water by Antoinette Moses (Level 5, intermediate, B1 and above)
When teen hackers Tricia and Daniel discover that a local company could be involved in a sinister plot to trade carbon, they suddenly find that their lives are in danger. How is Tricia’s father involved? Can Tricia protect her family and Daniel?
Young learners will also enjoy learning about water. You can build your lesson around activities which involve water. Learn about all the sports and everyday activities which need water, for example:
- brush your teeth
- take a shower or a bath
- make breakfast
- make a cup of tea
- wash your hands
- water your flowers
- clean the vegetables
- cook pasta, rice or potatoes
- make bread
- wash your clothes
- go to the toilet
- go swimming
Create two big posters with everyday activities and sports related to water.
Check out these flashcards which are available for Helbling Young Readers to practise vocabulary.
These flashcards can be found under Teacher’s Resources on the Helbling Young Readers website:
Lost on the Coast (written by Rick Sampedro and illustrated by Cristian Lissoni) and The Thirsty Tree (written by Adrian Brávi and illustrated by Valentina Russello) are two stories which draw our attention the the beauty and importance of the oceans and water in our life.
Book recommendations for teachers and advanced learners
The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt
- Amos Kincaid comes from a family of men who can find water underground. This gift follows him and his family as they travel West.
Dead Water Zone by Kenneth Oppel
- Muscular sixteen-year-old Paul tries to find his genetically stunted younger brother Sam in the polluted ruins of Watertown, where Sam is trying to cure himself with toxic “dead water” that alters the metabolism of those who drink it.
- Robinson Crusoe looked for adventure from an early age. He preferred life at sea and travelling to new places to an easy life at home. Then on one journey he was shipwrecked and forced to make his home on a desert island, alone. Robinson has a choice. He can give up all hope or fight to survive. What will Robinson decide and will he ever be able to escape from the island and return home to England?
Mad Max: Fury Road by George Miller
- In Mad Max: Fury Road, following a nuclear holocaust, the world has become a desert wasteland and civilisation has collapsed. The water supply is controlled by an obsessive, violent tyrant named Immortan Joe who lives in the Citadel. Imperator Furiosa, one of Joe’s lieutenants, is sent to get gasoline. However, she decides to drive off-route in the direction of the ‘Green Place’, a green and idyllic place from her childhood.