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Water and Sanitation for All: Bringing the Issue Home

Elementary, Middle


Water and Sanitation for All consists of three lessons designed to raise awareness of the issues facing children with inadequate access to clean water or sanitation facilities. 

  • Lesson 1: Students explore through reading and discussion, the “big picture” of water and sanitation. They learn about what UNICEF is doing to aid children and communities affected by lack of safe water or inadequate sanitation facilities.
  • Lesson 2: Students become familiar with why it is so important to have clean water and sanitation facilities and then discuss some of the consequences of their absence. They read about how simple steps such as hand washing and treating water at home have helped to dramatically decrease disease.
  • Lesson 3: Students are presented with examples of how to take action within their community. They view a video of New Yorkers taking action to raise awareness of the importance of access to clean water and sanitation. Next they read the Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009, a piece of legislation related to world water issues. The class then brainstorms action ideas and each student designs their own plan of action.

General Assessment


  • A strong fit for grade five or six.
  • Excellent teacher background information is provided and well referenced.
  • Lessons are easy to follow and case studies for students are provided.


  • The lessons are teacher directed and rely heavily on reading strength.
  • No assessment strategies are provided.
  • No adaptations or modifications are suggested.
  • A reason for students to care about the issue is not clearly established.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

Water (2)

  • Water Quality
  • Water Treatment and Distribution

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
  • Supports the ESD perspective that water needs to be clean and freely available to all.
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good
  • The resource explores economic, environmental, and social dimensions.
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good
  • The lessons identify the poverty/potable water accessibility connection and the potable water/hygiene connection.
  • The lessons introduce worldwide potable water consumption inequities.
  • The lessons do not introduce world water distribution or factors contributing to water pollution.
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good
  • A planning guide contributes to the likelyhood that classes or individuals could take action.
  • A tie-in to the local community and a reason to care are not clearly established.
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Poor/Not considered
  • While there is some guided discussion time there are no reflection activities.
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
  • The provided case studies are opportunities to cultivate empathy and respect. It is up to the teacher to ensure it happens.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Poor/Not considered
  • A significant oversight.
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory
  • The lessons concentrate on the present and future.
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Satisfactory
  • Structured inquiry with some guided inquiry.
  • Lesson three provides opportunity for open inquiry.
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good
  • Socials, language arts, and health are effectively integrated.
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Poor/Not considered
  • This is not an inquiry based lesson set.
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory
  • This is a language-based lesson set.
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory
  • case studies are provided for students to read.
  • action experience is encouraged and supported
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Poor/Not considered
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered
  • There are no assessment tools included.
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
  • In lesson two, students share information from one of two scenarios they have read.
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Poor/Not considered
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.