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Water on the brain

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By Christina Bakerwriter, teacher and educational journalist

Join the Girl Scouts and Guides on 22 February and celebrate World Thinking Day – a dedicated time to think of others. This year’s theme is ‘Water’

Water

Remind children on the importance of access to clean water

Providing access to clean water

  • Where does our water come from? Show children information on the water cycle using the Junior Ed PLUS. interactive water cycle Ask children to look at a map of the UK (as well as their local area) and identify water sources (rivers, lakes, reservoirs).
  • Ask the children to explore www.water-pollution.org.uk and make notes about the ways that different water sources can become contaminated (industrial waste, sewage, marine dumping, and so on). Ask the children to create a poster showing the causes of water pollution and ways of preventing or treating it.
  • Discuss the short- and long-term effects of oil spills. Visit www.georesources.co.uk and search for ‘empress’ for information about the Sea Empress, which released around 72,000 tonnes of oil off the Welsh coast in 1996. Ask the children to write a poem about the effects of a spill on marine life and sea birds.
  • The ‘WaterLiterate’ and ‘WaterNumerate’ teaching packs found in the ‘Learn zone’ at www.wateraid.org contain excellent schemes of work and resources to help children understand that, in many countries, access to clean water is difficult. The ‘Water for Life’ video clip shows Foibe, a Tanzanian woman, making a five-mile journey to a water supply each day and carrying home the 20kg weight. After watching the clip, let the children experience carrying a bucket containing 20kg. Ask them to write a diary from Foibe’s point of view, about her journey to fetch water and her concerns about its contamination.

Drinking water for health

  • Ask the children to research the health benefits of water, and the signs and dangers of dehydration, using www.wateriscoolinschool.org After discussing the poster advertisement, ask the children to create their own adverts promoting drinking water (these could be in poster form or for radio or television).
  • It is recommended that children drink six to eight glasses of water a day (three to four glasses in school, with additional in hot weather or when exercising). Arrange the children into groups and give each group a copy of the class timetable. Ask them to schedule times for drinking water and consider when additional water is needed. Arrive at a consensus and try to incorporate these water breaks into the daily routine.

Conserving water for the world

  • Ask the children to discuss the different ways that we use water (washing, drinking, cooking, power generation, irrigation, sanitation, transport, and so on). Discuss why its conservation is important.
  • Using the country information sheets in the ‘Learn zone’ of the WaterAid website www.wateraid.org ask the children to mark the countries mentioned on the world map, to show areas where water is the most scarce. The children should then choose one of the countries and compare it to the UK in terms of climate, size, population, land use and economy.
  • Allow the children to explore www.thewaterfamily.co.uk and www.waterintheschool.co.uk which will help them to consider how water is used and how it can be conserved.
  • Using Activity sheet, ‘How much water do we use?’, ask the children to keep a tally of their family’s water use for a week. They should calculate the total usage for each activity and show their results in a bar graph. They should then create a poster listing ten ways to conserve water (brick in toilet cistern, turning tap off when brushing teeth, fixing leaky taps, and so on).

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