Educators are tasked with the important job of teaching the younger generation about the planet and environment. Water conservation is a growing part of this curriculum—and there are lots of ways children can learn to save water and use this precious resource wisely. And, as parents, we too can bring the learning home and find fun, engaging, and creative ways on how to sustainably use this limited natural resource. So, what are some of the most effective ways to teach kids about how to be more thoughtful with water use? How can we educate them to adopt everyday habits that set them on a path to living sustainably?
Luckily, there are many resources available to help make learning water conservation and sustainability fun. The following resources will give you a strong head start in your learning.
A great way for kids to learn is to get them involved with hands-on activities. Kids need to feel connected to the issue if they’re going to understand why protecting our water supply is important.
• Teach them about the importance of water. Why do we need water? Where can we find it? How much is there? What are some of the ways we may be wasting water?
• Help them understand where their water comes from. It’s easy to turn on a tap, but how does water get to the tap? It comes from a supply—a river, a watershed, or even Niagara Falls! To find out where yours comes from, call your water utility and ask them for details.
• Plan an outing such as a nature walk to explore. This is a great way to show them the ways in which all living things depend on water.
• Go around your home to find and fix leaks together. This will involve some detective work. Look for leaky faucets, running toilets, water damage on ceilings. Encourage kids to be detectives at home. They may be surprised what they find—and how much water they can save by fixing leaks.
• Use what they’ve learned to teach other kids in their school or neighborhood. Create posters, compost, and celebrate Canada Water Week or World Water Day, both of which are in March.
• Ask your teacher or principal about starting a rainwater garden. Here’s how: When it rains, water shoots off roofs and pours down drainpipes. You can collect it in a barrel or redirect it to water your school garden. Some people even create a rainwater garden—a garden right near where rainwater collects. It’s a great and sustainable way to use water. When your plants and flowers grow, you’ll see just how much of an impact you can make when you save water.
Your school library or local library will be great resource for reading material for kids of all ages. Find books about water and build an activity around what they read. For instance, is there a colouring sheet, conservation-themed word search or craft that builds on what they learned? Some highly recommended books about water include:
For little kids
Bear Loves Water by Ellen Weiss
All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon
Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner
Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis
For bigger kids
Dive In! by Ann Eriksson
Every Last Drop by Michelle Mulder
The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth: Understanding our World and Its Ecosystems by Rachel Ignotofsky
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
There’s a plethora of websites specially geared to helping kids—and educators—learn about the environment. Here are a few of the best sites:
• ecokids.ca is a great site about environmental stewardship for elementary-aged kids and their teachers. It is curriculum based and has lots of free activities, ideas and materials.
• davidsuzuki.org is another great site for adults and children alike. There is so much great information on a range of environmental topics, including oceans. The site also features ways kids can take action.
• National Geographic Kids is a fun and engaging site with games and videos that kids of all ages will enjoy. Linked below is the section about the water cycle. kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/science/water-cycle/
• wateruseitwisely.com/kids/ is another excellent site. It features water-saving tips, challenges and resources for educators, plus lots of fun facts and ideas.
• The Water Footprint Network has tons of great facts and information about what a water footprint means. It also has a personal water footprint calculator so kids can find out how much water they’re using https://www.waterfootprint.org/en/resources/interactive-tools/personal-water-footprint-calculator/
• The Water Calculator offers videos, tips and resources for kids in English and Spanish, plus a water calculator, too. https://www.watercalculator.org/educational-resources/kids-corner/
• The Water Project has links to water-related games and activities for kids https://thewaterproject.org/resources/water_related_games. An amazing resource listed was a link to the National Institute of Health Environmental Health Sciences. This is a fantastic resource with games, activities, and lessons. https://kids.niehs.nih.gov/lessons/index.htm
The Nature of Things has a great episode called Running on Empty (Season 56, Episode 3) that deals with how Californians are dealing with their water crisis. Other episodes dive into underwater life—everything from whales to jellyfish. https://gem.cbc.ca/media/the-nature-of-things/season-56/episode-3/38e815a-00b0dd07c4b
• PBS has a show called Science Trek—one episode, Water, is about how to conserve and protect water. https://www.pbs.org/video/science-trek-water/