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Why Live Near Water?

Investigate the birth of human communities in locations where land and water meet.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. People have always settled where land and water meet. Have students examine this phenomenon and determine the many roles water serves for communities. How do rivers, lakes and oceans serve communities as sources of food and potable water, transportation routes, protection from enemies, irrigation for crops, sources of food and energy, and other roles in agricultural and manufacturing economies?
    2. Have students examine maps and determine which large population centers are near rivers, lakes, coastlines, bays, waterfalls, etc. and how those water sources have served those communities. Have a class discussion, listing the multiple roles water serves for communities and determine why people selected those particular sites near water were selected for people to settle.
    3. Divide the class into teams, each exploring one of the major roles that was brainstormed in the class discussion, such as "Water as Protection," "Water as Transportation," "Water as a Food Source," or "Water as a Source of Energy." Have each team research how this role has been important to different communities.
    4. Have the teams use Crayola® Model Magic® modeling material to create a three-dimensional scene which demonstrates that role of water and why people live near water. Build models on cardboard bases. Use colored Model Magic or paint dry white Model Magic figures with Crayola Watercolors or Tempera Paint. Incorporate small craft items or recycled materials into the setting. Use Crayola Markers to add labels to scenes to explain the role water is serving.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    SCI: Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.

    SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

    SS: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.

    SS: Locate and distinguish among varying landforms and geographic features, such as mountains, plateaus, islands, and oceans.

    SS: Consider existing uses and propose and evaluate alternative uses of resources and land in home, school, community, the region, and beyond.

    SS: Explore the role of technology in communications, transportation, information-processing, weapons development, or other areas as it contributes to or helps resolve conflicts.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Living in Urban Communities (First Step Nonfiction: Communities) by Kristin Sterling; Living in Suburban Communities (First Step Nonfiction: Communities) by Kristin Sterling; One Well: The Story of Water on Earth (CitizenKid) by Rochelle Strauss; If the World Were a Village - Second Edition: A Book about the World’s People (CitizenKid) by David J. Smith

    Invite students to investigate water as a transportation route. How have people traveled on water? How have these methods changed over the years? How have advancements in technology increased or decreased our use of water for transportation?

    Encourage students to explore the development of ancient civilizations in areas where land and water have met. How has this combination been critical for the survival of the civilization? Consider the colonization of the New World., and the development of modern urban areas. How did this combination assist with survival?

    Students consider how humans are polluting water supplies. How are people polluting? How does this activity threaten our future? What can be done to ensure clean bodies of water will be available in the future?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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